TCRLA_Public/030121.mbx         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                    L A T I N   A M E R I C A

           Tuesday, January 21, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 14

                            Headlines


A R G E N T I N A


AOLA: Nasdaq Grants Six-Month Extension For Bid Price Compliance


B E R M U D A


MRM: Creditors to Define Company's Fate February 5


B O L I V I A


BANCO DE LA NACION: Rated Similarly To Argentinean Parent
BANCO GANADERO: 'E' Strengh Rating Forecasts Doubt
BANCO MERCANTIL: Financial Strength Rated 'E'
BANCO NACIONAL: Operating Environment Prompts 'E' Rating
BANCO UNION: Outlook Stable But Financial Strength Rated 'E'
FONDO FINANCIERO: Financial Strength Rated 'E'; Outlook Stable


B R A Z I L


BANESTES: May be Handed Over to Federal Government
ELETROPAULO METROPOLITANA: Expects Rise in E-Procurement in 1H03
EMBRATEL: To Complete Debt Talks by March
PECOM: Lula Calms Duhalde's Fears on Petrobras Takeover


C H I L E


ENERSIS/ENDESA-CHILE: Fitch Ratings Unchanged by Accounting Fix
ENERSIS: S&P Accounting Adjustments Prompt No Ratings Changes
SAESA: Pre-Paying US$150M Debt After Successful Bond Issue


C O S T A   R I C A


ALCATEL: Gov't Comptroller Awards Supply Contract to Local Firm


JAMAICA

BANK OF JAMAICA: Local Press Issues Correction


M E X I C O

AHMSA: Creditors Lobby For Government Help In Debt Resolution
GRUPO MEXICO: Workers Meet to Consider Strike Terms
UNEFON: Unefon Seeks Criminal Probe on Nortel Counsel


P A R A G U A Y

ANDE: Unpaid Customer Bills Top US$34.8 Million


T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O


BWIA: Unions Plea for Re-nationalization, Firm Set to Cut Staff
BWIA: Ranking Executive Downplays Class Action Affect
CARONI: Government May Retrench Workers Who Reject VSEP


U R U G U A Y


BANCO DE CREDITO: Talks with Minority Investor Enter Final Stage


V E N E Z U E L A


BANCO INDUSTRIAL: Government Aid Too Little, Losses Mount
PDVSA: Fires Execs to Deter Workers from Joining 7-week Strike
PDVSA: Analysts Forecast Oil Production Upturn, Optimistic


     - - - - - - - - - -

=================
A R G E N T I N A
=================


AOLA: Nasdaq Grants Six-Month Extension For Bid Price Compliance
----------------------------------------------------------------
America Online Latin America, Inc. (Nasdaq:AOLAC), one of the
leading interactive services providers in Latin America,
announced on Friday that it had received a 180-day extension
from NASDAQ to comply with the $1 minimum bid price requirement
for continued listing of its class A common stock on the NASDAQ
SmallCap Market. The Company stated it now must have a closing
bid price of $1.00 or higher for at least ten consecutive
trading days commencing no later than June 30, 2003.

AOL Latin America noted that NASDAQ granted the extension
because the Company's market capitalization, as measured by the
closing bid price of its outstanding class A common stock on
Monday, January 13, 2003 was $66.2 million. This was in excess
of the $50 million market capitalization required to obtain the
aforementioned extension. In anticipation of the extension, the
Company decided not to execute a reverse stock split, although
it may do so in the future.

AOL Latin America also noted that it still must comply with the
$35 million minimum market capitalization requirement at least
through January 24, 2003 to remain listed on the NASDAQ SmallCap
Market. As such, there can be no assurances that the Company
will remain listed on the NASDAQ SmallCap Market. In the event
that the Company is no longer able to continue trading on the
NASDAQ SmallCap Market, the Company expects that its class A
common stock would trade on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board
(OTCBB). The OTCBB is a regulated quotation service that
displays real-time quotes, last-sale prices, and volume
information for more than 3,600 equity securities.

About AOL Latin America

America Online Latin America, Inc. (Nasdaq:AOLAC) is the
exclusive provider of AOL-branded services in Latin America and
has become one of the leading Internet and interactive services
providers in the region. AOL Latin America launched its first
service, America Online Brazil, in November 1999, and began as a
joint venture of America Online, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary
of AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:AOL), and the Cisneros Group of
Companies. Banco Itau, a leading Brazilian bank, is also a
minority stockholder of AOL Latin America. The Company combines
the technology, brand name, infrastructure and relationships of
America Online, the world's leader in branded interactive
services, with the relationships, regional experience and
extensive media assets of the Cisneros Group of Companies, one
of the leading media groups in the Americas.

The Company currently operates services in Brazil, Mexico and
Argentina and serves members of the AOL-branded service in
Puerto Rico. It also operates a regional portal accessible at
http://www.aola.com.America Online's 35 million members
worldwide can access content and offerings from AOL Latin
America through the International Channels on their local AOL
services.

CONTACT:  AOL Latin America, Fort Lauderdale
          Financial Community:
          Monique Skruzny
          Tel: 954/689-3256
          Email: aolairr@aol.com
             or
          News Media:
          Fernando Figueredo
          Tel: 954/689-3256
          Email: LatAmPressMail@aol.com


=============
B E R M U D A
=============


MRM: Creditors to Define Company's Fate February 5
--------------------------------------------------
Creditors of Bermuda-based Mutual Risk Management will meet on
February 5 to determine the company's future plans. The meetings
will take place at the firm's headquarters in 44 Church Street
in Hamilton.  According to the Bermuda Sun, the company will
meet its Class A, B and C creditors separately.

In an effort to salvage profitable parts of MRM, a new company
had been formed. This new company, IAS Park Group, will be the
largest captive manager in the country and the third in the
world. The one remaing hitch is that MRM's creditors have not
approved the structure yet.

The report indicates that MRM, which has been trading on the
pink sheets at 3.5 cents, would continue to exist until the
legal issues concerning its subsidiaries Legion and Villanova
will be resolved.

The two subsidiaries, after being declared insolvent by
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Diane Koken, were put into
rehabilitation. Koken had ordered a liquidation of the
companies' assets, as the two companies were reportedly having
trouble recovering money due to them.

MRM has been fighting Koken's order saying that Legion and
Villanova could still recover tens of million of dollars from
reinsurers.

Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt is handling the
case. A report from the Philadelphia Inquirer said that a ruling
may be expected this month.

CONTACT:  MUTUAL RISK MANAGEMENT INC.
          P.O. Box HM 2064
          44 Church Street
          Hamilton HM HX
          Bermuda
          Tel: (800) 772-0849 or (441) 295-5688
          Homepage: http://www.legioninsurance.com
          Contacts:
          Angus H. Ayliffe, Chief Financial Officer
          Fran Tucker, Investor Relations

          Legion Insurance Company (In Rehabilitation)
          Villanova Insurance Company (In Rehabilitation)
          Legion Indemnity Company
          One Logan Square
          Suite 1400
          Philadelphia, PA  19103
          Tel:   215.979.7879
          Fax:  215.963.1205
          Contacts:
          Joseph M. Boyle, Acting President
          Paul Forbes, Senior Vice President - Underwriting
          Andrew Walsh, General Counsel
          Steve Zielinski, Senior Vice President - Claims
          Gregg Frederick, Senior Vice President - Reinsurance


=============
B O L I V I A
=============


BANCO DE LA NACION: Rated Similarly To Argentinean Parent
---------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned last week a 'Ca' and Not
Prime first time foreign currency deposit rating on Banco de la
Nacion Argentina (Santa Cruz).  This, Moody's says, reflects the
bank's status as a full branch of Banco de la Nacion Argentina,
which is also rated 'Ca' and Not Prime in Moody's rating board
for foreign currency bank deposits.  The bank's outlook is
stable.

For more information, contact:

Gregory W. Bauer (New York)
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Jeanne Del Casino (New York)
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


BANCO GANADERO: 'E' Strengh Rating Forecasts Doubt
--------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned last week an 'E' bank
financial strength rating on Banco Ganadero, S.A. In Moody's
rating scale, an 'E' rating under this category means that the
bank "display[s] very modest intrinsic financial strength, with
a higher likelihood of periodic outside support or an eventual
need for outside assistance."

"Such institutions may be limited by one or more of the
following factors: a weak and limited business franchise;
financial fundamentals that are materially deficient in one or
more respects; or a highly unpredictable or unstable operating
environment," Moody's said.

The long-term foreign currency deposit rating of the bank is B2,
with stable outlook.  Short-term foreign currency rating,
however, is Not Prime.

Moody's, meanwhile, assigned the bank a 'Baa3.bo' National Scale
Rating.  Moody's says the suffix ".bo" identifies the ratings as
country specific.

"They are intended for use primarily by domestic investors in
those countries where Moody's National Scale Ratings exist, such
as Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay and therefore serve to
rank issuers in a particular country relative to each other,"
Moody's explained.

"The National Scale Ratings are not comparable to Moody's global
ratings, which do not carry a country identification symbol.
Specifically, an Aaa.bo rating on Moody's Bolivian National
Scale indicates an issuer or issue with the strongest domestic
creditworthiness and the lowest likelihood of credit loss on
local currency obligations relative to other local issuers or
issues," Moody's said.

Moody's emphasized that National Scale Ratings are not opinions
on absolute default risks. The national ratings do not address
systemic risk or the expectation of loss associated with
systemic events that could affect all issuers, even those that
receive the highest ratings on the national scale, it said.

For more information, please contact:

Gregory W. Bauer (New York)
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Jeanne Del Casino (New York)
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


BANCO MERCANTIL: Financial Strength Rated 'E'
---------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned last week an 'E' bank
financial strength rating on Banco Mercantil, S.A. In Moody's
rating scale, an 'E' rating under this category means that the
bank "display[s] very modest intrinsic financial strength, with
a higher likelihood of periodic outside support or an eventual
need for outside assistance."

"Such institutions may be limited by one or more of the
following factors: a weak and limited business franchise;
financial fundamentals that are materially deficient in one or
more respects; or a highly unpredictable or unstable operating
environment," Moody's said.

The long-term foreign currency deposit rating of the bank is B2,
with stable outlook.  Short-term foreign currency rating,
however, is Not Prime.

For more information, please contact:

Gregory W. Bauer (New York)
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Jeanne Del Casino (New York)
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


BANCO NACIONAL: Operating Environment Prompts 'E' Rating
--------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned last week an 'E' bank
financial strength rating on Banco Nacional de Bolivia S.A.
In Moody's rating scale, an 'E' rating under this category means
that the bank "display[s] very modest intrinsic financial
strength, with a higher likelihood of periodic outside support
or an eventual need for outside assistance."

"Such institutions may be limited by one or more of the
following factors: a weak and limited business franchise;
financial fundamentals that are materially deficient in one or
more respects; or a highly unpredictable or unstable operating
environment," Moody's said.

The long-term foreign currency deposit rating of the bank is B2,
with stable outlook.  Short-term foreign currency rating,
however, is Not Prime.

For more information, please contact:

Gregory W. Bauer (New York)
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Jeanne Del Casino (New York)
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


BANCO UNION: Outlook Stable But Financial Strength Rated 'E'
------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned last week an 'E' bank
financial strength rating on Banco Union S.A. In Moody's rating
scale, an 'E' rating under this category means that the bank
"display[s] very modest intrinsic financial strength, with a
higher likelihood of periodic outside support or an eventual
need for outside assistance."

"Such institutions may be limited by one or more of the
following factors: a weak and limited business franchise;
financial fundamentals that are materially deficient in one or
more respects; or a highly unpredictable or unstable operating
environment," Moody's said.

The long-term foreign currency deposit rating of the bank is B2,
with stable outlook.  Short-term foreign currency rating,
however, is Not Prime.

For more information, please contact:

Gregory W. Bauer (New York)
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Jeanne Del Casino (New York)
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


FONDO FINANCIERO: Financial Strength Rated 'E'; Outlook Stable
--------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned last week an 'E' bank
financial strength rating on Fondo Financiero Privado FIE S.A.

In Moody's rating scale, an 'E' rating under this category means
that the bank "display[s] very modest intrinsic financial
strength, with a higher likelihood of periodic outside support
or an eventual need for outside assistance."

"Such institutions may be limited by one or more of the
following factors: a weak and limited business franchise;
financial fundamentals that are materially deficient in one or
more respects; or a highly unpredictable or unstable operating
environment," Moody's said.

The long-term foreign currency deposit rating of the bank is B2,
with stable outlook.  Short-term foreign currency rating,
however, is Not Prime.

Moody's, meanwhile, upgraded the bank's National Scale Rating to
Baa3.bo from Ba1.bo.  Moody's says the suffix ".bo" identifies
the ratings as country specific.

"They are intended for use primarily by domestic investors in
those countries where Moody's National Scale Ratings exist, such
as Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay and therefore serve to
rank issuers in a particular country relative to each other,"
Moody's explained.

"The National Scale Ratings are not comparable to Moody's global
ratings, which do not carry a country identification symbol.
Specifically, an Aaa.bo rating on Moody's Bolivian National
Scale indicates an issuer or issue with the strongest domestic
creditworthiness and the lowest likelihood of credit loss on
local currency obligations relative to other local issuers or
issues," Moody's said.

Moody's emphasized that National Scale Ratings are not opinions
on absolute default risks. The national ratings do not address
systemic risk or the expectation of loss associated with
systemic events that could affect all issuers, even those that
receive the highest ratings on the national scale, it said.

For more information, please contact:

Gregory W. Bauer (New York)
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Jeanne Del Casino (New York)
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653


===========
B R A Z I L
===========


BANESTES: May be Handed Over to Federal Government
--------------------------------------------------
Banco do Estado do Espirito Santo SA (Banestes) may be
federalized as the government of Espirito Santo tries to raise
some BRL300 million (US$1=BRL3.30). The state is scrambling to
meet its financial obligations and pay off BRL280 million in
salary arrears. According to Dow Jones Newswires on Thursday,
the move means that Banestes' BRL292 million debt portfolio
would also be handed over to the country's top financial
institution, Banco do Brasil SA.

Dow Jones reported that the state had intended to sell that bank
to a number of potential buyers in an auction. Among the
qualified bidders mentioned in the report are Banco Bradesco SA
(BBD) and Banco Itau SA (ITU) - Brazil's second- and fourth-
biggest retail banks.

The state, which earns BRL210 million monthly, spends BRL140
million monthly on wages while attempting to service total debt
of BRL1.2 billion. Espirito Santo Governor Paulo Hartung is
scheduled to meet with Finance Minister Antonio Palocci on
Thursday to discuss the states options towards resolving its
financial problems. Espirito Santo has made an overdue December
payment of BRL17.8 million to the government.

Claudio Couto, a professor at independent research foundation
said that the most probable solution is that Minister Palocci is
going to agree to the federalization of the state bank. Although
the move would depend largely on the Banestes' financial health,
the handover is very likely to take place as other states have
resorted to similar strategies in the past.

Sao Paulo and Santa Catarina states handed over control of their
respective banks - Banco do Estado de Sao Paulo, or Banespa, and
Banco do Estado de Santa Catarina SA (E.BST), or Besc - to the
federal government in the late 1990s.

Late in 2000, the government had sold its stake in Banespa to
Santander Central Hispano SA (STD) for US$3.7 billion. The same
may happen to Besc, if the government decides to go on with a
delayed state-bank privatization program.

Espirito Santo will have to come up with a solution as the
government had made it clear that it is not prepared to
renegotiate debt agreements with any of Brazil's states in
financial distress. According to the report, the government
cannot afford to be lenient with any of its states, otherwise,
all of them would be asking for leniency and push the country
into bankruptcy.

CONTACT:  BANCO ESTADO DO ESPIRITU SANTO, S.A.
          Avenida Princesa Isabel, 574, Bloco B/9§ andar -
Centro
          Ed. Pallas Center - CEP 29019-900.
          Vit¢ria - ES - Brasil
          Phone: +55 27 3383 1395, 3383 1396
          Fax: +55 27 3383 1398
          Homepage: http://www.banestes.com.br/
          E-mail: decam@banestes.com.br
          Contacts:
          Joao Luiz de Menezes Tovar, President
          Marcos de Oliveira Pereira, Finance Director


ELETROPAULO METROPOLITANA: Expects Rise in E-Procurement in 1H03
----------------------------------------------------------------
Sao Paulo state power company, Eletropaulo Metropolitana, is
forecasting e-procurement transaction volumes over local e-
marketplace Mercado Eletronico (ME) to double in the first half
of this year compared to the second half of last year. The story
about the company's guidance comes by way of e-procurement
director Moacir Cunha, as quoted by Business News Americas on
Friday.

Eletropaulo began e-procurement through ME in June 2002. The
company posted savings of 3 million reais on the cost of
supplies, as well as a 50% reduction in process time. The
structure helps the company reduce costs as it faces a total
debt of BRL6.2 billion, of which 69 percent was due within one
year. Of the company's total debt, 52 percent is in US dollars
and not hedged against exchange rate variations.

The company bought 20-30 percent of goods through ME from July
to December last year. This year, the number may rise to as much
as 70 percent. To date, Eletropaulo had spent BRL100,000
(US$29,600) for e-procurement services on system implementation
and monthly fees to ME. Eletropaulo uses e-procurement only for
direct supply purchasing, and 100% of its direct suppliers are
registered with ME.

The company, which has concluded an internal restructuring
program two weeks ago, decided to reduce the number of people to
handle procurement processes, making it easier to migrate more
procurement responsibility to the electronic platform, according
to Mr. Cunha.

Eletropaulo had chosen to purchase goods through ME after
implementing its own in-house system proved too costly at US$5
million. Suppliers' tendency to fix prices in the sector did not
allow for group discounts had also added to the company's
reasons for choosing to buy online.

Meanwhile, joint purchases made by the Latin America
subsidiaries of US-based energy company AES Corp., which include
Eletropaulo, remains an option.

The feasibility of group discounts is still being studies,
according to Mr. Cunha. He added that AES could create an e-
marketplace for its Latin subsidiaries for direct supplies
purchasing, if suppliers would welcome the idea.

US-based AES owns 74% of Eletropaulo's total shares through
three holding companies: AES Elpa (31%), Trangas (39%) and AES
Cemig (4%). AES has already said it does not expect to receive
dividends from Eletropaulo in 2003.

CONTACT:  ELETROPAULO METROPOLITANA
          Avenida Alfredo Egidio de Souza Aranha 100-B,
          13 andar 04726-270 San Paulo
          Brazil
          Phone: +55-11-548-9461, +55 11 5696 3595
          Fax: +55-11-546-1933
          URL: http://www.eletropaulo.com.br
          Contacts:
          Luiz D. Travesso, Chairman and President
          Orestes Gonzalves Jr., VP Finance/Investor Relations


EMBRATEL: To Complete Debt Talks by March
-----------------------------------------
Brazil's largest long-distance phone company may conclude debt
renegotiations by the end of March, reports Bloomberg News,
citing company sources. Last week, 10 out of 20 of Embratel's
lenders agreed to the company's refinancing proposal, while the
rest are in final talks over adjustments to the plan, according
to Valor Economic.

Embratel vice president Purificacion Carpinteyro said the
company may have "good news" soon, referring to talks on the
refinancing of the company's US$790 million in debt due this
year. However, the company had declined to provide more
information on the negotiations.

The report indicated that the company's shares had gained 14
percent this year, after a 61 percent decline last year.
Meanwhile, the benchmark Bovespa stock index had gained only 3.6
percent this year. Traders and investors said that they bought
Embratel on speculation that the company will succeed in
refinancing its debt.

On Thursday, shares of Embratel, which has a total debt of
US$1.3 billion, fell 1.4 percent, down to BRL4.27 on the Sao
Palo Stock Exchange while the Bovespa fell 2.3 percent.

Jacopo Valentino, who helps manage about BRL100 million (US$30
million) in emerging market shares for BNP Asset Management in
Sao Paulo, said: "Embratel is down less than the index as
Carpinteyro fed hope for the company's success in the debt
talks."

Mr. Valentino added: "Usually I would be 'underweight' in
Embratel but we decided to buy some shares to avoid missing a
possible rally if the terms of the debt renegotiation please
investors."

Mr. Valentino has a "neutral" position on Embratel in his
portfolios.

CONTACT:  Embratel Participacoes SA
          Registered Office
          Rua Regente Feijo, 166 sala 1687-B
          Centro 20060-060 Rio de Janeiro
          Brazil
          Tel  +55 21 2519-9622
          Fax  +55 21 2519-6608
          Web  http://www.embratel.com.br/
          Contact:  Daniel Eldon Crawford, Chairman


PECOM: Lula Calms Duhalde's Fears on Petrobras Takeover
-------------------------------------------------------
Brazilian federal energy company Petrobras may proceed in the
acquisition of a controlling share in Argentine energy company
Perez Companc (Pecom), reports Business News Americas on
Thursday last week.

The report said that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva had persuaded Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde not to
block the proposed takeover.  The two heads of state meet in
Brasilia on today to clarify the issue. Argentina's energy
minister met his Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff and
Petrobras president Jose Eduardo Dutra.

Mr. Lula had reportedly allayed Mr. Duhalde's fears that a
takeover may compromise his country's sovereignty, and may allow
Petrobras to monopolize the regional energy market. Earlier, Mr.
Duhalde had actually considered issuing a veto to prevent the
takeover.

The government of Brazil has made it clear that Petrobras, which
paid US$3 billion for 58.6 percent of Pecom, does not have such
intentions. Anti-trust authorities, who are expected to announce
their findings next month, will take charge of the issue.

The company also promised not to give preferential treatment to
Brazilian suppliers for purchases by Pecom in Argentina,
according to the report.

Mario Grandinetti said on Monday that the deal meets all
requirements under Argentine law. He added that the company does
not want Pecom to be split up by regulators, nor its access to
market segments restricted.

CONTACT:  PECOM ENERGIA S.A. DE PEREZ COMPANC S.A.
          Maipo 1 - Piso 22 - C1084ABA
          Buenos Aires, Argentina
          Phone: (54-11) 4344-6000
          Fax: (54-11) 4344-6315
          URL: http://www.pecom.com.ar/
          Contacts:
          Jorge Gregorio C. Perez Companc, Chairman
          Oscar Anibal Vicente, Vice Chairman

          PETROLEO BRASILEIRO S/A - PETROBRAS S.A.
          Investor Relations Department
          Av. Rep£blica do Chile, 65 - office 401 E
          20035-900 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Centro
          Phone: (55 21) 2534-1510 or 2534-9947
          Fax: (55 21) 2534-6055
          E-mail: petroinvest@petrobras.com.br
          Web Site:
          http://www2.petrobras.com.br/ingles/index.asp


=========
C H I L E
=========


ENERSIS/ENDESA-CHILE: Fitch Ratings Unchanged by Accounting Fix
---------------------------------------------------------------
The recent announcement by Enersis (NYSE: ENI) and Endesa-Chile
(NYSE: EOC) regarding their accounting adjustment, in and of
itself, will not affect the respective ratings of Enersis or
Endesa-Chile. Fitch currently rates Enersis' international local
and foreign currency obligations 'BBB+' and the national scale
rating is 'AA-'. Endesa-Chile's international local and foreign
currency ratings are 'BBB+' and national scale rating is 'AA'.
All ratings are on Rating Watch Negative. Enersis owns 60% of
Endesa-Chile.

The credit quality of Enersis and Endesa-Chile should not be
affected by the accounting adjustments taken by Enersis and
Endesa-Chile since they are non-cash, do not cause any covenant
violations, will not affect the companies' ongoing ability to
generate cash flow nor will it impact the companies' liquidity
positions.

Enersis and Endesa-Chile are on Rating Watch Negative and will
remain so as Fitch analyzes the expected results of the measures
being undertaken by Enersis and Endesa-Chile to improve their
credit profiles, including divesting assets, refinancing and
reducing debt, increasing the free cash flow, and increasing
equity. Enersis faces approximately US$514 million of debt
maturities during 2003, with the majority (US$364 million) due
in August 2003. Endesa-Chile has approximately US$773 million
due, including US$170 million maturity in May 2003 at its
subsidiary, Pehuenche. The remaining Endesa-Chile maturities are
comprised of bank loans (US$222 million) and its Euro medium
term notes (US$381 million). The company intends to refinance or
repay these maturities via international bank loans, asset
sales, operating cash flow and local bond issuances.

Fitch believes Enersis and Endesa-Chile should be able to
refinance their bank loans, although at higher than its current
interest rates, and be able to adequately meet debt service
during 2003. Enersis and Endesa-Chile's credit quality has been
and will continue to be under pressure from its subsidiaries
located in Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. Therefore,
based on prospective leverage measures and interest and debt
service coverages, Fitch expects the ratings of Enersis and
Endesa-Chile to stabilize within the investment grade category
following the debt refinancing, equity increase and anticipated
asset sales, albeit at somewhat lower rating levels.

With respect to asset sales, Enersis and Endesa-Chile have
announced their intention to sell their stakes in Rio Maipo
(distribution asset), Canutillar (172 MW hydroelectric
generation plant) and Infraestructura 2000. The process is
ongoing with several interested parties having requested
information. The company believes that funds from these sales,
between US$350 million and US$600 million, could be received
during the second quarter. These assets are good, profitable
investments and should generate sufficient interest to be sold.
Failure to complete such divestitures or increase equity in a
timely manner could increase liquidity concerns and also
pressure credit ratings.

Enersis continues to move forward with plans to increase equity
by up to US$1.5 billion, which will be addressed at the next
board of directors meeting at the end of January 2003. Equity
increases at Enersis will be partially supported by Endesa-
Spain, as previously anticipated, via the conversion of up to
US$1.4 billion in subordinated debt from Endesa-Spain. Although
Endesa-Spain's contribution will not have a cash flow benefit,
fresh money could come from the other shareholders's
subscription should they choose to participate. The maintenance
of the intercompany loan, in its current form or as equity, plus
potential asset purchases up to US$150 million represents the
extent of the Spanish parent's support to Enersis -- a defined
level of support which will be incorporated into the standalone
credit quality of Enersis and Endesa-Chile following the review.

Enersis is the largest private electricity distribution and
generation group in Latin America. The company has varying
ownership interests in electric distribution companies in
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru; electric generating
companies in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru; and
electric utility-related service companies. Enersis is 65%-owned
by Endesa-Spain.

Endesa-Chile is the largest electricity generation company in
Chile and owns and operates approximately 48% of the country's
total generating capacity. Endesa-Chile is also involved in
electric interconnection business between Argentina and Brazil.
Endesa-Spain is Spain's largest electrical utility, which holds
existing energy investments in South America. All three
companies have direct and indirect stakes in companies located
in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.

CONTACT:  Fitch Ratings
     Jason T. Todd
          Tel: 312/368-3217

     Daniel R. Kastholm, CFA
          Tel: 312/368-2070

     Carlos Diez,
          Tel: +011 562-206-7171

     Matt Burkhard, (Media Relations)
          Tel: 212/908-0540


ENERSIS: S&P Accounting Adjustments Prompt No Ratings Changes
-------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's announced Friday that it will not change the
ratings and outlook of Enersis S.A. in light of its recent
disclosure of a US$387 million write-off of investments in
Argentina and Brazil.

The Chilean company had earlier said the write-off -- related to
the negative and positive goodwill of investments in the
troubled South American neighbors -- was necessary to better
reflect the value of those assets.  Enersis said the adjustments
would have a net impact of US$290 million on the company's 2002
results.

"Although this adjustment will affect the company's
profitability for 2002 and marginally its leverage ratio, it
will not have a material impact on the company's cash flow.
Therefore, this action does not affect the company's debt
repayment capacity," S&P said in a statement.

The rating agency notes, however, that the "[company's] US$3.8
billion of total consolidated debt with third parties, which
matures in 2003 and 2004, present a relatively high refinancing
risk exacerbated by the difficult economic environment in Latin
America, mainly in Argentina and Brazil, which derive in a lower
cash flow from their subsidiaries to Enersis and Endesa Chile."

"Standard & Poor's Ratings Services will re-evaluate Enersis...
credit quality once the renegotiation of the maturing debt terms
is completed.  In Standard & Poor's view, a significant
reduction in the companies' refinancing risk, as well as the
strengthening in financial ratios, is necessary for rating
stability," the statement reads.

For more information, please contact:

Sergio Fuentes (Buenos Aires)
Tel: (54) 114-891-2131

Marta Castelli (Buenos Aires)
Tel: (54) 114-891-2128


SAESA: Pre-Paying US$150M Debt After Successful Bond Issue
----------------------------------------------------------
After a sold-out bond issue, Chilean distributor Saesa will pre-
pay a US$150 million loan today, reports Business News Americas,
citing Saesa CEO Jorge Brahms. He added that a new loan will not
be necessary for the company after the bond issue.

The loan, of which US$115 million was by Saesa, the remaining
US$35 million, by sister company Frontel, was due on April 4,
after being postponed twice. Originally, the debt was due on
October 8, but was postponed to November 8, and then to the
present cut-off date.

The company will use US$114 million, recently raised through an
issue of medium- and long-term bonds, and part of a US$93
million syndicated loan to Saesa and Frontel from Chilean banks
BICE (which led the loan), BCI, Corpbanca, and Estado, to pay
its debt.

The report indicated that the Saesa intends to use US$33 million
of its syndicated loan to pay debts and US$25 million to boost
working capital. The syndicated loan is for seven years, to be
paid back at the Chilean benchmark interest rate, TAB, plus 2
percent spread, which Mr. Brahms describes as "a very good
rate."

The company will also pay a US$35 million long-term loan from
Santander Bank in the first week of February, said Mr. Brahms.

According to Mr. Brahms, US$60.5 million in 7-year bonds at 5.39
percent interest were sold to Chilean mutual funds and local
banks including BICE, while US$53.5 million in 21-year bonds at
6.6 percent interest were sold to insurance companies.

In a statement, the company said that the bonds, whose placing
agent was Salomon Smith Barney, was oversubscribed by 48
percent.

CONTACT:  SAESA
          Gerencia y Administracion Zonal de Osorno
          Bulnes 441, Osorno
          Telefono: (64) 206400
          Fax: (64) 206209 - Casilla: 21 -0


===================
C O S T A   R I C A
===================


ALCATEL: Gov't Comptroller Awards Supply Contract to Local Firm
---------------------------------------------------------------
Troubled French telecom equipment maker, Alcatel, lost a multi-
million-dollar supply contract in Costa Rica after the country's
comptroller rejected its appeal, Business News Americas reported
late last week.

Alcatel had questioned the award of the US$25.2 million contract
to hardware firm GBM, a Cisco System distributor.  The contract
is for the supply of routers to state-owned electric power and
telecom company ICE.  GBM expects to have the routers in place
within 120 days, according to a local daily.

The verdict clears one of the barriers to the government's
"Advanced Internet" project, says La Nacion.  Another is the
"indefinite hold" status of a tender for a complementary
contract to supply 85,000 DSL lines, in which Alcatel and Lucent
(NYSE: LU) have taken issue with ICE's acceptance of a US$18.3
million bid by Israel-based ECI Telecom (Nasdaq: ECIL).

Science and Technology Minister Rogelio Pardo expects the
Advanced Internet project to be completed by August as a result
of the comptroller's decision.

=======
JAMAICA
=======

BANK OF JAMAICA: Local Press Issues Correction
----------------------------------------------

The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper issued the following article on
Monday, January 20, 2003:
"WE MADE mistakes in our editorial of Monday, January 13. The
increase of the Bank of Jamaica's (BoJ) holdings of other
marketable securities is not evidence of increased government
borrowing. The increase in these holdings represents an exchange
of FINSAC-related debenture bonds for Local Registered Stock
Instrument (LRS). This became necessary as Government monetised
its FINSAC-related debts (make them more tradable for investors)
as part of the re-organisation of the financial sector. The BoJ
improved the quality of its assets through this transfer.
In our editorial last Monday on the BoJ's losses, we suggested
that a reduction in the deposits of public institutions
represented additional cash that the Central Bank released into
the system. However, the main portion of the reduction in public
sector deposits was used by Government to redeem a portion of
outstanding FINSAC debt held by the Bank and therefore involved
no actual transfer of cash.
We argued that BoJ's action had in fact served to expand money
supply at a time when the monetary authorities were committed to
keeping tight reins on liquidity. BoJ data indicate that the
increase in money for the 2002 December quarter was in the
region of 2.1 per cent, down from 3.2 per cent recorded for the
previous period. The accounts therefore reflected no deviation
from the tight monetary policy stance.
The BoJ did make a loss in 2002 of $1.4 billion. This does not
lead to a reduction in the net worth of the Bank as the
Government is required to refund this amount to the Bank. BoJ
profits made in past years have been used to repay Government
debts.
The BoJ's latest policy initiative of requiring commercial banks
and other financial institutions licensed under the Financial
Institutions Act to place cash deposits with the Central Bank
equivalent to 5 per cent of their Jamaican dollar deposit
liabilities has had a positive impact on the slide in the value
of the local dollar vis-a-vis its U.S. counterpart. At the end
of the first week of the system, the dollar now trades at an
average rate of $50.29 (Thursday). This is $1.70 less than what
the dollar traded at a week ago.
The reported meetings of BoJ with bank officials appeared to
have relieved some of the bankers' concerns about the re-
imposition of the system and contributed to building confidence
in the system. The bankers had expressed a concern that other
financial institutions that impacted directly on liquidity in
the system but did not fall under the Financial Institutions
Act, would have an unfair advantage. BoJ has promised that it
will keep the system under constant review.
THE OPINIONS ON THIS PAGE, EXCEPT FOR THE ABOVE, DO NOT
NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE GLEANER."

===========
M E X I C O
===========

AHMSA: Creditors Lobby For Government Help In Debt Resolution
-------------------------------------------------------------
Juan Carlos Pilgram, a bank executive at Banamex Citigroup's
restructuring department, said the government should help in the
resolution of Alto Hornos de Mexico S.A.'s (AHMSA) debt
restructuring, local paper El Norte reports. The company, which
has a total debt of about US$1.8 billion has been in a form of
bankruptcy protection for more than three years.

"We're going to use all the legal means necessary to keep
pushing [to resolve the issue] but we need the government," Mr.
Pilgram said. AHMSA owes Banamex Citigroup some US$160 million.

Alejandro Cardenas of BBVA Bancomer, to whom AHMSA owes between
US$130-140 million, said: "The debt has a solution, and the
proof of that is that other steelmakers in trouble came out
healthy, such as Hylsa, Ispat and now Villacero."

Accused by creditor banks of being not serious about its debt
restructuring, the Monclova-based company had drawn up another
plan after previous plans were rejected. The report added that
the company had failed to implement a plan, which had received
the approval of its creditors.

AHMSA is controlled by the GAN industrial group, and is one of
Mexico's largest steelmakers, with an output of almost 3 million
tons per year.

CONTACT:  AHMSA
          Prolongacion B. Juarez s/n,
          Monclova , Coahuila 25770
          Mexico
          http://www.ahmsa.com
          Phone: +52 86 33 81 72
          Fax: +52 86 33 65 66
          Contacts:
          Alonso Ancira Elizondo, CEO, Vice Chairman, Pres./CEO
          Jorge Ancira Elizondo, Chief Financial Officer
          Manuel Ancira Elizondo, Chief Operating Officer


GRUPO MEXICO: Workers Meet to Consider Strike Terms
---------------------------------------------------
Workers of Grupo Mexico's Cananea copper mine were expected to
decide yesterday whether to accept the company's wage and
benefits offer or go on strike, said Reuters News on Thursday,
citing a spokesman for the National Mine and Metal Workers
Union. According to the workers, the company owes them a
productivity bonus since 2000. They demand salary increases and
benefits stipulated in the 2001-2003 contract, which expires in
August.

Grupo Mexico, the world's third-largest copper miner, ran into
trouble making debt payments as copper prices fell following its
purchase of U.S.-based Asarco Inc. in 1999 for US$2.25 billion
in cash and debt. At the end of September, Grupo Mexico's net
debt was US$2.4 billion.

The workers are also asking for the reinstatement of 10 workers
allegedly fired without justification, said the union. The Labor
Ministry will supervise a meeting between the company and the
4,000 workers of the open-pit mine in northern Mexico. The
company had to present its proposals last Friday so that the
union can decide in a meeting yesterday.

CONTACT:  GRUPO MEXICO S.A. DE C.V.
          Avenida Baja California 200,
          Colonia Roma Sur
          06760 M,xico, D.F., Mexico
          Phone: +52-55-5264-7775
          Fax: +52-55-5264-7769
          Home Page: http://www.gmexico.com
          Contacts:
          Germ n Larrea Mota-Velasco, Chairman and CEO
          Xavier Garca de Quevedo Topete, President and COO
          Alfredo Casar P,rez, COO, Ferrocarril Mexicano
          Daniel Ch vez Carre n, COO, Industrial Minera M,xico
          Daniel Tellechea Salido, VP and Administration and
                                      Finance  President


UNEFON: Unefon Seeks Criminal Probe on Nortel Counsel
-----------------------------------------------------
Mexican mobile operator, Unefon, has asked Mexican prosecutors
to start a criminal investigation of individual lawyers at
Chicago-based law firm Baker & McKenzie, according to Dow Jones
Newswires. The said law firm represents Canadian
telecommunications equipment maker, Nortel Networks Corp.

In a written statement, Baker and McKenzie said that Unefon's
petition was ungrounded and that it was an "abuse of the legal
system."  Baker & McKenzie has a team of 150 lawyers in Mexico.

The firm's statement also said: "All those summoned to appear
before the authorities did so as required in the summons they
received and in compliance with the law."

Officials from Unefon refused to comment on the matter.

Nortel had filed an insolvency proceeding against Unefon before
a Mexican court. Nortel also sued Unefon in New York City and
Mexico City, seeking to collect more than US$400 million in debt
and to protect assets backing the obligations, according to the
report.

In 2002, Unefon also filed a case against Nortel demanding
US$900 million for failing to syndicate portions of promised
financing in a timely manner, which resulted in lost profits and
equity value for the Mexican operator. Unefon also accuses
Nortel of failing to supply digital equipment within the
negotiated time frame.

Unefon has more than 1.2 million subscribers, which is about 5
percent of Mexico's cellular phone market.

Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca SA (TZA) owns 46.5 percent of
Unefon, the Saba family holds another 46.5 percent, while the
remaining 7% floats on the Mexican Stock Exchange.

CONTACT:  Unefon S.A. De CV
          Head Office
          EdificioA
          Puriferico Sur 4119 Fuentes del
          Pedregal
          Mexico
          DF
          Mexico 14141
          Tel: +52 8582 50000
          Fax: +52 8582 5052
          Web site: http://www.unefon.com.mx/
          Contacts:
          Engr Moises M. Saba, Chairman
          Pedro L. Padilla, Vice Chairman

          Nortel Networks Corp.
          Head Office
          Suite 100
          8200 Dixie Road
          Brampton
          ONTARIO
          Canada
          L6T 5P6
          Tel  +1 905 863-0000
          Fax  +1 905 863-8423
          Web  http://www.nortelnetworks.com
          Contacts:
          Lynton R. Wilson, Chairman
          Frank A. Dunn, President & Chief Executive


===============
P A R A G U A Y
===============


ANDE: Unpaid Customer Bills Top US$34.8 Million
-----------------------------------------------
Paraguay state power company, Ande, faces more financial woes as
its customers' unpaid bills have reached a total of PYG250
billion (US$34.8 million), reports local paper La Nacion, citing
the company's customer division head Walter Causarano.

The company has to pay US$17 million to Itaipu hydro plant, US$6
million with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and US$3
million with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)
next month.

Business News Americas reported that the number of customers
disconnected had doubled since the middle of last year, to about
10,000 a month, due to the economic crisis that has gripped the
country. The company disconnects customers after not paying
bills for four consecutive months.

An earlier report from BNAmericas cited Ande finance director
Pedro Ferreira, revealing that the company had planned to offer
discounts on bills paid in advance, or pay interest equivalent
to about 2.5 percent a month for payment deposits in Paraguayan
guaranis and 6.5 percent a year for deposits in US dollars.

The company also hopes to raise some US$5 million from five
different products launched recently, which would anticipate
payment from its customers for 2H03 electric power purchases.

Ande is also increasing its efforts to eliminate illegal hookups
that have contributed to losses. According to company's
statistics, 70 percent of customers who had been disconnected
reconnect to the grid illegally.


=================================
T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O
=================================


BWIA: Unions Plea for Re-nationalization, Firm Set to Cut Staff
---------------------------------------------------------------
The government can better run BWIA, says Aviation Communication
Allied Workers Union President Christopher Abraham, who called
for re-nationalization of the ailing flag carrier over the
weekend. In an interview with The Trinidad Guardian, Mr. Abraham
said it is high time for the government to regain full control
of the airline, which he regards as "too important a national
development to leave in the hands of the private sector."
Shareholders, he claims, share the union's view.

Since its near-collapse in October last year, the airline has
been looking for ways to save US$1.4 million a month, partly to
qualify for a badly needed government loan.  Already, the
carrier has slashed eight managerial posts and sent home 40
pilots. More layoffs are expected soon.

"We've got to get costs down or we'll be out of business,"
declared BWIA Chief Conrad Aleong in a press conference two
weeks ago.

Mr. Aleong says the unions are to blame for any further
retrenchment; this for agreeing to only US$130,000 out of the
US$300,000 in monthly labor concessions needed.

Trade Minister Kenneth Valley also said two weeks ago that the
airline's failure to get labor concessions would hinder it from
receiving future payments from the US$13.5 million State Loan,
from which BWIA had already received US$2 million, and a letter
of comfort for another US$4 million loan.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abraham urged the government to develop a
national policy on civil aviation and place BWIA under once
Ministry to improve its management.

"BWIA has the capacity to be self-sufficient if it is properly
organized.  BWIA is under about five different ministries. It
has to be centralized," he said.

CONTACT:  BRITISH WEST INDIES AIRWAYS
          Phone: + 868 627 2942
          E-mail: mailto:mail@bwee.com
          Home Page: http://www.bwee.com/
          Contacts:
          Conrad Aleong, President and CEO (Trinidad)
          Beatrix Carrington, VP Marketing and Sales (Barbados)
          Paul Schutz, CFO (Trinidad)


BWIA: Ranking Executive Downplays Class Action Affect
-----------------------------------------------------
Clint Williams, corporate director of troubled flag carrier
BWIA, assured staff in an internal memo last week that they have
nothing to worry in relation to a pending representative action
against the company. The suit, which is similar to a class
action in the United States, was filed against the airline in
December.  A group of shareholders launched the action, claiming
that management violated securities laws when it launched an
initial public offering in December 2000.

But Mr. Williams, who has refused to comment on the issue, said
in his memo obtained by The Trinidad Guardian, said the
transaction was above board.

"The company is confident that this action will not be
successful," the memo reads.

It also explains the steps taken to obtain an IPO as required by
the Securities and Exchange Commission:

(1) Review and Approval by the BWIA Board of Directors including
    the Finance Committee;

(2) Review by independent accountants of the reasonableness of
    the strategies and assumptions, including an Accountant's
    report on the Profitability Forecast, and review of the
    Prospectus and the Auditor's Letter of Consent; and

(3) Investigation and approval of the plan by the Securities and
    Exchange Commission.

BWIA maintains it followed "all steps and received all requisite
approvals prior to the IPO."

An inquiry made by the paper with an official from the
Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed that the above
steps are indeed the requirements that must be taken before a
company can launch an IPO.

However, on the first page of the BWIA Prospectus for the IPO
there is a SEC disclaimer: "The Trinidad and Tobago Securities
and Exchange Commission has not in any way evaluated the merit
of the securities offered thereunder and any representation to
the contrary is an offence."

The SEC official interviewed by the paper noted: "The SEC
reviews the draft prospectus and determines whether or not the
prospectus has full and fair disclosure, sufficient for the
investor to make a full and informed decision."


CARONI: Government May Retrench Workers Who Reject VSEP
-------------------------------------------------------
Trinidad and Tobago Agriculture Minister John Rahael said that
government may have to retrench workers of state sugar company,
Caroni Ltd., if they refuse to accept the Voluntary Separation
of Employment Plan (VSEP), reports the Trinidad Express.
Earlier reports said that workers have the option to stay in the
company but face eventual redundancy and receive a smaller
severance package in the end.

At a news conference at White Hall, Mr. Rahael admitted that the
number of employees to remain in the company had not been
finalized, but he added that a "substantial" number of persons
will be retained. Mr. Rahael added that the government has
decided that all employees of the troubled company will be
offered the VSEP.

Unions representing the company's workers had objected to
restructuring process as, Rudranath Indarsingh, President
General of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade
Union claims that the plan aims to shut Caroni down.

Last week, the start of the 2003 harvest had been hampered by
mechanical problems in Caroni's Usine Ste Madeliene factory,
while members of its staff association gathered outside the
company's main office in protest of the government's handling of
the reorganization.

CONTACT:  Caroni Limited
          Old Southern Main Road, Caroni,
          Trinidad & Tobago
          Phone: (868) 663-1781 or 662-0879
          Fax: (868) 663-1404

          All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers' Trade Union
          Rienzi Complex
          Exchange Village
          Southern Main Road, Couva.
          President: Mr. Boysie Moore-Jones
          General Secretary: Mr. Rudranath Indarsingh
          Tel. 868-636-2354
          Fax. 868-636-3372
          E-mail: atsgwtu@opus.co.tt


=============
U R U G U A Y
=============


BANCO DE CREDITO: Talks with Minority Investor Enter Final Stage
----------------------------------------------------------------
A South Korean minority investor is holding up the re-opening of
Banco de Credito, says a central bank spokesperson, who
disclosed that the suspension of the company might be extended
another 15 days. But the unnamed spokesperson clarified, in a
recent interview with Business News Americas, that the
government is now closed to reaching a deal with St George, an
investment company of the South Korean Moon group.  In fact, the
bank could re-open as early as next month, she said.  She,
however, added that the bank would go into liquidation if the
negotiations fail.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, St George would capitalize
Banco de Credito with its own funds and 20-30% of the bank's
frozen deposits in exchange for a majority stake. St George and
depositors would become the new owners, the central bank
official said.

The bank, along with Banco Comerical, Montevideo and Caja
Obrera, were intervened and suspended between July and August
last year due to capital and liquidity problems.  The government
plans to merge the other three suspended banks into a new bank,
El Nuevo Banco Comercial, which is slated to open mid-February,
Business News Americas said.


=================
V E N E Z U E L A
=================


BANCO INDUSTRIAL: Government Aid Too Little, Losses Mount
---------------------------------------------------------
Struggling state-run financier, Banco Industrial de Venezuela,
has slipped back into the red less than a year after receiving
government aid totaling VEB125 billion, South American Business
Information said Friday. Subsequently, the bank posted losses of
VEB27.8 billion against profits of VEB3.2 billion between
January and June last year.  In 2001, the government was forced
to cough up a multi-billion-Bolivar financial package after the
bank recorded losses of VEB58.17 billion.

South American Business Information places the bank's loan
portfolio at VEB221.1 billion of which VEB145.9 billion are
arrears.

"Over July - December BIV raised VEB106 billion, but had
expenditures of VEB124.1 billion, leaving a negative margin of
VEB17.9 billion," SABI said.


PDVSA: Fires Execs to Deter Workers from Joining 7-week Strike
--------------------------------------------------------------
In a desperate effort to discourage workers from further joining
the national strike that is now entering its seventh week,
state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) fired another
507 employees over the weekend, most of whom were managers and
executives.

Citing El Universal, Bloomberg said the move brings the total
number of dismissed employees to 1,500.  A company statement
obtained by the news agency said most of the executives axed
were from the Western part of the country.  It cited the
employees' participation in an illegal strike as the reason for
the dismissals.

Labor union bosses, business leaders and former oil executives
are behind the national strike organized to pressure President
Hugo Chavez to resign and hold elections.

The world's fifth-largest oil-producing country, Venezuela had
been averaging three million barrels of oil a day before the
strike.  These days oil wells are only churning out an average
of 800,000 barrels a day.


PDVSA: Analysts Forecast Oil Production Upturn, Optimistic
----------------------------------------------------------
Analysts do not expect the disruption of oil production in
Venezuela to end anytime soon, with the political chasm so wide
that a common ground is nearly impossible to achieve. In
separate teleconferences last week, Fitch and Standard & Poor's
analysts all opined that the projection by Petroleos de
Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) that production would be back to normal
in a matter of weeks is too optimistic.

"Our understanding from speaking with [PDVSA] company officials
is that they have a revised target - assuming that they are able
to ramp up production right away - of a year-end production
target of 2.3 million barrels per day, remaining well below the
pre-strike levels," Fitch said.

Nonetheless, Fitch believes that even assuming a significant
participation of workers, it would still take at least 30-60
days to ramp up production of light and medium crude to normal
levels, and it might take even longer for heavy crudes.

"It would not be very difficult if you had the full support from
a human resource standpoint to achieve a production level of 1.2
to 1.5 million barrels per day, this reflects the larger fields
that have significant pressure and would be easy to bring back
on," Fitch said.

The rating agency notes that, "taking production much higher
than 1.5 million barrels per day would be difficult because
problems extend beyond field operations to support services and
the downstream sector."

At this, the observers agreed that there could be long-term
damage to Venezuela's oil industry.  The country's risk profile
has increased and until a lasting political solution is found
credit ratings and project-funding for the industry could be
adversely affected, they said.

"The gloomier long-term scenario for PDVSA was based on the fact
that a lasting solution to the political crisis which sparked
the national strike seems to be as far away as ever," Business
News America said.

"With the government insisting that the constitution only allows
a binding referendum on President Hugo Chavez' rule to take
place in August 2003, mid-way through his six-tear term, and
opposition keeping up its calls for early elections, there
appears to be no common ground on this critical point, and the
crisis could extend well beyond the seven weeks that it has
already lasted," the paper added.


                           ***********


S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter Latin American is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Trenton,
NJ, and Beard Group, Inc., Washington, DC. John D. Resnick, Edem
Psamathe P. Alfeche and Oona G. Oyangoren, Editors.

Copyright 2003.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without
prior written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed
to be reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The TCR Latin America subscription rate is $575 per half-year,
delivered via e-mail.  Additional e-mail subscriptions for
members of the same firm for the term of the initial
subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For subscription
information, contact Christopher Beard at 240/629-3300.


                 * * * End of Transmission * * *