TCRLA_Public/030224.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

           Monday, February 24, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 38



ARGENTINE BANKS: Customer Deposits Intact Pending Court Ruling
BANCO FRANCES: Reports $384M Loss For 2002
GRUPO GALICIA: Posts ARS389.4 Mln Net Loss In 4Q02
SIDERAR: To Operate Siderperu Pending Final Contract Approval

* Lazard Tasked with Locating 700,000 Bondholders
* Argentina Receives $750M IDB Disbursement


SAGE: Decision On U.S., Bermuda Operations Expected in March
TRENWICK GROUP: Net Loss Spikes in 4Q02 Results
TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Ex-CFO Pleads Not Guilty To Charges


COPEL: President Calls For Power Purchase Contract Review
TELESP CELULAR: Reassures Market on Short-Term Liquidity
VESPER/IMPSAT FIBER: Partner to Offer Bundled Services
VESPER: New Services Expected to Aid Growth


* Fitch Sees IMF Pact Improving Ecuador Credit


* U.S. 'De-certification' May Cost Guatemala IMF Loan, Aid


CORPORACION DURANGO: Default Persists, Fitch Cuts Ratings To 'D'
GRUPO DESC: 4Q02 Results Show Negative Momentum's Affects
GRUPO SIMEC: Announces 1 for 20 Reverse Stock Split
PEMEX: Restores Normal NatGas Supplies to Ispat Mexicana
UNEFON: Revenues Up, Trims Overall Net Loss In 2002


AMERICA TV: Ownership Change Expected Soon
PAN AMERICAN: 2002 Operations Show Improvement, Cost Containment
VOLCAN: Workers Return, Yauli Operations Back To Normal

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Romero Withdraws Lawsuit, Unions Deny Involvement


PDVSA: Union Leaders Expected In New BoD Makeup
SINCOR: Strike Repercussions To Cut Parent's Profit $100M

* Venezuelan Domestic Bond Yields Spike On Default Concerns

     - - - - - - - - - -


ARGENTINE BANKS: Customer Deposits Intact Pending Court Ruling
A majority of Argentines seem to be waiting for a court ruling
verdict which could turn their peso deposits back into U.S.
dollars, reports local paper La Nacion.  Some banks in the
country are voluntarily returning frozen time deposits. Only 14
percent of clients with previously frozen deposits came to
withdraw them.

An upcoming court ruling is expected to reverse a controversial
decree by President Eduardo Duhalde to convert all dollar-
denominated deposits into peso deposits at a fixed exchange rate
last year.

Standard & Poor banking analyst Carina Lopez said many people are
betting on a favorable court decision, but added that any
compensation would probably come in the form of some kind of
dollar-denominated bond, considering the limited liquidity of the
banks and the government.

Ms. Lopez noted that clients would choose to keep their money in
the banks to take advantage of high interest rates on short-term
time deposits.

BANCO FRANCES: Reports $384M Loss For 2002
Argentine bank BBVA Banco Frances said Thursday it lost ARS1.24
billion (US$384 million) last year, relates Reuters. In a
statement to the press, the bank pointed out that during 2002,
the bank faced charges of ARS1.95 billion in order to cover bad
loans and to meet "the negative effects derived from the
country's deep economic crisis."

Argentina's whole banking system teetered on the brink of
collapse for most of the first half of 2002 due to a panic run on
deposits, a currency devaluation and a devastating government
debt default. Deposits have recovered in recent months as the
long recession has leveled out.

Banco Frances, which is owned by Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya
Argentaria S.A., is one of Argentina's largest private commercial

GRUPO GALICIA: Posts ARS389.4 Mln Net Loss In 4Q02
Argentine banking group Grupo Financiero Galicia reported a
ARS389.4-million ($1=ARS3.20) net loss in the fourth quarter of
2002, relates Dow Jones. That amounts to a loss of ARS0.356 per
share in the quarter. According to the group, the vast majority
of its net loss came from its main unit, Banco Galicia, in which
it holds a 93.58% stake. Banco Galicia posted a loss of ARS348.3
million in the fourth quarter of 2002.

Banco Galicia is the largest private commercial bank in
Argentina. Unlike a number of other private banks, it has been
unable to lift restrictions on certificates of deposit held at
its bank because of outstanding discount loans still owed to the
central bank.

According to a breakdown of its results, the group's gross
brokerage margin came to a loss of ARS304.2 million for the
quarter, with financial income totaling ARS315.6 million and
financial expenses amounting to ARS619.8 million.

For the full year 2002, the group recorded a loss of ARS1.458
billion or ARS1.335 per share. The group's financial statements
for the full year have been restated for inflation, using
Argentina's wholesale price index, in accordance with Central
Bank requirements, says Dow Jones.

SIDERAR: To Operate Siderperu Pending Final Contract Approval
Shareholders of Sider Corp., controller of Siderperu, awarded
Argentine integrated steelmaker Siderar a contract to operate the
Peruvian steelmaker. Shareholders representing 87.5% of Sider's
equity ownership unanimously voted for Siderar at a meeting held
February 19. Approval of the final text of the operating contract
will take place Monday, February 24, when shareholders are
expected to convene again.

Siderperu's plant, in Chimbote in center-west Peru's Ancash
department, has installed capacity of around 400,000t. Siderar,
controlled by the Techint group, struggled to meet its debt
obligations following the devaluation of the local currency. The
company is Argentina's largest integrated steelmaker with crude
output of 2.2Mt/y and an 80% share of the local market for the
products it makes.

CONTACT:  Leonardo Stazi
          Siderar S.A.I.C.
          Phone: 54 (11) 4018-2308/2249
          Home Page:

* Lazard Tasked with Locating 700,000 Bondholders
Locating Argentina's 700,000 foreign bondholders may take as long
as a year, says Finance Secretary Guillermo Nielsen. He added
that negotiations on any sort of debt deal could only begin after
first contacting them.

Mr. Nielsen made this projection after announcing yesterday the
appointment of Lazard LLC to handle the job of locating
bondholders based in the U.S., Europe, Japan and other
countries.  There are talks that the government will name another
bank to handle a likely swap of old bonds for new ones.

Argentina is currently in default of about US$95 billion in
foreign bonds. It must reach an agreement with bondholders soon
to restore investors' confidence and regain access to
international capital markets.

Market observers doubt, however, the credibility of Mr. Nielsen's
pronouncement, citing the possibility that a new government in
April might take a different approach, Bloomberg says.

"With elections so close, I won't react to anything we get from
the current administration," Hans Humes of Van Eck Associates
told Bloomberg in an interview.  He co-manages US$210 million in
emerging-market debt and helped organize the Argentina
Bondholders' Committee, set up to facilitate talks with the
Argentine government.

Argentina borrowed more than any other emerging market country in
the 1990s, according to Bloomberg, to finance an increase in
spending and rising interest payments.  Investors willingly
gobbled up its bonds, noting the country's currency stability --
the peso was fixed one-to-one with the dollar at the time -- and
attractive economic growth.

But in 2001, the government struggled to refinance debts, forcing
it to freeze deposits.  This angered many Argentineans who took
the streets and0 eventually forced then President Fernando de la
Rua to step down.  The social unrest and the government
changeover prompted the devaluation of the currency and the
default on public debt, the biggest ever in history by a

This year, Argentina's 7 percent bond due 2008 has risen to 23.03
cents on the dollar from about 22.5 and now yields about 60
percent.  The nation's currency, which last year lost about 70
percent of its value, has gained 5 percent against the dollar
this year to about 3.19 per dollar, Bloomberg says.

* Argentina Receives $750M IDB Disbursement
Argentina's economy ministry confirmed that the government
received a US$750 million disbursement on a US$1.5 billion loan
program from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), according
to a report released by Hoover's in its website. The report
indicated that the lender may provide as much as US$3.5 billion
in loans to Argentina this year.

Another US$250 million was promised to the country's local
financial reforms on February 5, the same day the US$1.5 billion
loan was approved. The government estimates that it would be
granted another US$1 billion from the IDB, after a new president
takes office in May next year. The country has to make a US$2.2-
billion payment to the bank this year.

Argentina began recovering lost credit lines, after reaching a
temporary agreement with the International Monetary Fund last
month. The country lost all its credit lines, except for the IMF,
after defaulting on a record US$95 billion of debt in December
2001. The IDB has disbursed US$928.5, since.


SAGE: Decision On U.S., Bermuda Operations Expected in March
Life assurer Sage is expected to make a decision on offers to buy
its U.S. and Bermuda operations in March. A report by Business
News Americas said the Company is studying a number of proposals
from major institutions. Earlier this year, the Company announced
that it would close its U.S. operations, but the Company in
Bermuda would still continue to sell products as long as it is
able to negotiation suitable reinsurance facilities.

The Company has not revealed the name of any parties whom it
might be negotiating with. It has also informed shareholders that
no deal has been completed yet. According to the report, the
Company failed to raise enough funds for its South Africa

The Company previously mentioned that "major financial
institutional groups" are interested in buying, or funding the

          Robin Marsden
          Phone: +1-203-602-6510

TRENWICK GROUP: Net Loss Spikes in 4Q02 Results
Net Income

Trenwick Group Ltd. ("Trenwick") reported a net loss available to
common shareholders of $198.1 million or $5.39 per share for the
fourth quarter of 2002, compared to a net loss of $26.4 million
or $0.72 per share for the fourth quarter of 2001.

The largest contributors to the net loss in the fourth quarter of
2002 were the $106.6 million or $2.90 per share increase in loss
reserves related to adverse development of 2001 and prior
accident years at Trenwick's United States subsidiaries and
Trenwick International Limited, and a non-cash charge of $95.7
million or $2.60 per share related to the establishment of a 100%
valuation allowance against Trenwick's U.K. deferred tax asset
due to a determination that Trenwick in its present circumstance
may be unable to realize the tax benefits of past losses in the

The results for the fourth quarter of 2002 also include a charge
of $13.1 million resulting from the commutation of a reinsurance
cover relating to the previously announced sale of the in-force
property catastrophe reinsurance business of Trenwick's Bermuda
subsidiary, LaSalle Re Limited, to Endurance Specialty Insurance
Ltd. The 2001 fourth quarter net loss resulted primarily from the
$30.7 million, or $0.83 per share of losses related to the
November 12, 2001 American Airlines crash in Queens, New York and
reinstatement premiums payable by Trenwick to its reinsurers in
connection with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

For the year ended December 31, 2002, Trenwick reported a net
loss available to common shareholders of $386.1 million or $10.49
per share, compared to a net loss of $154.4 million or $4.19 per
share for the 2001 year. The results for the 2002 year include
$223.5 million or $6.07 per share of loss reserve strengthening,
a non-cash charge of $150.2 million or $4.08 per share resulting
from the establishment of 100% valuation allowances against
Trenwick's U.S. and U.K. deferred tax assets and a charge of
$41.7 million, or $1.13 per share, for the cumulative effect of
the change in accounting for goodwill as a result of Trenwick's
adoption of a new accounting standard referred to below effective
January 1, 2002. In addition, Trenwick's results for the 2002
year include a charge of $17.3 million (net of commission income
of $2.8 million), or $0.47 per share related to the sale of the
in-force business of LaSalle Re Limited.

W. Marston Becker, Acting Chairman and Acting Chief Executive
Officer, stated, "Trenwick has moved aggressively these last two
quarters to ensure our balance sheet appropriately reflects
ongoing actuarial developments within the Company and the
industry, provide a going forward operating opportunity for our
North American reinsurance business and our Lloyd's business, and
move into an orderly runoff of our remaining insurance businesses
at Canterbury and Trenwick International as well as reflect the
accompanying costs of the runoff. Trenwick has also adjusted its
deferred tax assets associated with both its U.S. and London
business to reflect its changed status. Trenwick's outlook going
forward remains fluid as we work to restructure our outstanding
senior indebtedness prior to its April 1, 2003 maturity."

On October 30, 2002, Trenwick announced that it had ceased
underwriting its U.S. specialty program business which operated
as Canterbury Financial Group, Inc. Additionally, on December 8,
2002, Trenwick announced that Trenwick International Limited, its
specialty London market insurance company, had ceased to
underwrite new business. A formal plan of runoff for Trenwick
International Limited has been presented to the Financial
Services Authority in the U.K. for their approval. During the
fourth quarter of 2002, Trenwick recorded $16.2 million of
reorganization expenses related to severance and other run-off

Trenwick's gross and net premium writings totaled $277.1 million
and $234.3 million, respectively, for the quarter ended December
31, 2002 compared to $391.5 million and $221.9 million,
respectively, for the quarter ended December 31, 2001. For the
year ended December 31, 2002, gross and net premium writings
totaled $1.6 billion and $991.5 million, respectively, compared
to gross and net premium writings for the year ended December 31,
2001 of $1.5 billion and $970.3 million, respectively.

The combined loss and expense ratio for Trenwick for the fourth
quarter of 2002 was 158.3% compared to a combined loss and
expense ratio of 129.1% for the fourth quarter of 2001. The 2002
fourth quarter results include 44.3 percentage points related to
adverse loss reserve development for 2001 and prior accident
years. The loss reserve increases, as previously announced, are
based upon the results of a study of the reserving levels and
methodology of Trenwick's insurance subsidiaries performed by
independent actuarial consultants combined with additional work
performed by Trenwick's internal actuaries. The 2001 fourth
quarter results include 18.9 percentage points attributable to
large catastrophe losses, principally the November 12, 2001
American Airlines crash in Queens, New York and reinstatement
premiums payable to Trenwick's reinsurers in connection with the
September 11th terrorist attacks. Trenwick's combined loss and
expense ratio for the year ended December 31, 2002 was 128.4%
compared to a combined loss and expense ratio of 132.6% for the
same period in 2001. The 2002 year results include 22.8
percentage points related to adverse loss reserve development of
2001 and prior accident years. The results for 2001 include 14.4
percentage points for large catastrophe losses and 8.4 percentage
points relating to loss reserve strengthening.

During the fourth quarter of 2002, Trenwick entered into an
underwriting facility with Chubb Re, Inc. which permits Trenwick
to underwrite up to $400 million of U.S. reinsurance business on
behalf of Chubb Re through the end of January 2004. Chubb Re
retains final underwriting and claims authority with respect to
all business generated through the underwriting facility and
retains the premium in an experience account for the benefit of
both Chubb Re and Trenwick. Chubb Re will receive one-third and
Trenwick will receive two-thirds of the profits generated by the
business with initial profit distribution from Chubb Re scheduled
to begin in 2006. To date, Trenwick has underwritten
approximately $120.0 million of premiums through the underwriting

On December 24, 2002 Trenwick announced that it had entered into
a definitive agreement with its Lloyd's letter of credit
providers with respect to the renewal of approximately $182
million of letters of credit supporting Trenwick's participation
at Lloyd's for the 2003 underwriting year. With additional
capital contributed by Trenwick to its Lloyd's operations and its
previously announced agreements with National Indemnity Company,
an affiliate of the Berkshire Hathaway group, and third party
qualifying quota share reinsurance proposed to be purchased,
Trenwick's anticipated Lloyd's underwriting capacity for 2003 is
up to approximately $500 million.

Operating income (loss), a non-GAAP financial measure, is net
income excluding after-tax realized gains and losses, the after-
tax impact from the cumulative effect of accounting changes and
non-recurring charges relating to the exit from certain business
segments. Management uses operating income (loss), among other
measures to manage Trenwick's business and evaluate its

The following table presents a reconciliation of operating loss
and net loss for the three months and years ended December 31,
2002 and 2001:

                                Three Months             Year

(in thousands of
U.S. dollars)              2002     2001      2002       2001

                         --------- --------  --------   --------
Operating loss         $(199,954) $(24,951) $(342,530) $(158,102)

Non-operating income (loss),
net of applicable income

   Realized investment
     gains               32,224       635     35,776      8,520
   Cumulative effect of
    change in accounting
    for goodwill            -         -    (41,653)         -
   Loss on sale of LaSalle's
    in-force reinsurance
    business before
    Commission income on
    quota share contract (13,125)        -    (20,133)         -
    expenses             (16,175)   (2,081)   (16,175)    (4,815)
                       ---------- --------- ---------- ----------
Net loss               $(197,030) $(26,397) $(384,715) $(154,397)
                       ========== ========= ========== ==========

Investment Income

Trenwick's net investment income was $23.5 million in the quarter
ended December 31, 2002 compared to $33.0 million for the same
period in 2001. For the 2002 year, net investment income was
$105.0 million compared to $129.1 million for 2001. These
decreases are attributable to the reduction in invested assets in
2002 as a result of the repayment of Trenwick's term loan
facility during the second quarter of 2002 combined with the
continuing trend towards decreased market yields over the course
of 2002.

Trenwick posted net realized investment gains of $32.2 million
and $35.8 million in the quarter and year ended December 31,
2002, compared to net realized investment gains of $0.6 million
and $8.5 million for the same periods in 2001. The gains recorded
during both 2002 and 2001 were a result of actions taken to
reposition the investment portfolio into higher quality, shorter
duration fixed income securities.

Shareholders' Equity

As of December 31, 2002, Trenwick's consolidated common
shareholders' equity totaled $77.5 million, or $2.11 per share,
compared to $498.3 million or $13.52 per share at December 31,
2001. The decrease in consolidated shareholders' equity resulted
mainly from the increases in loss reserves, the establishment of
the deferred tax valuation reserves and the write down of all of
Trenwick's goodwill as a result of the adoption of a new
accounting standard referred to below. As of December 31, 2002,
Trenwick has no goodwill on its balance sheet.

Cash Flow

During the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2002,
Trenwick reported positive cash flow from operations of $13.9
million and $106.6 million, respectively. This positive cash flow
is a result of increased premium writings combined with the
decrease in interest expenses paid, a result of repayment of
Trenwick's term loan during the second quarter of 2002. These
increases were offset in part by an increase in underwriting
expenses paid during the fourth quarter of 2002 related to
severance and other runoff costs at Trenwick's U.S. specialty
program insurance segment. During the quarter and year ended
December 31, 2001, Trenwick had positive cash flow from
operations of $29.4 million, and $63.2 million, respectively,
which resulted principally from premium collections and net
investment income received. Cash from investing activities during
both the quarter and year ended December 31, 2002 was net of
$50.0 million deposited with Chubb Re in connection with the
previously discussed underwriting facility. This security deposit
will earn investment income over the duration of the agreement.
Cash flow from financing activities for the year ended December
31, 2002 included $40.0 million in proceeds from the previously
disclosed issuance of Trenwick's Series B Cumulative Convertible
Perpetual Preferred Shares to European Reinsurance Company of
Zurich, a subsidiary of Swiss Reinsurance Company.

Accounting Standard

Effective January 1, 2002, Trenwick adopted a new standard which
suspended systematic goodwill amortization and instead uses
periodic tests for goodwill recoverability. Trenwick's Bermuda
holding company, LaSalle Re Holdings Limited, has credited the
negative goodwill balance of $11.6 million and based upon the
results of a combination of market value and cash flow tests,
Trenwick recorded a write down of all $53.2 million of its
remaining goodwill. Both actions were recorded as a cumulative
effect of an accounting change as of January 1, 2002.

Recent Developments

Trenwick announced on December 8, 2002, that it has hired
Greenhill & Co., LLC as its financial advisor. Greenhill & Co., a
recognized leader in providing advisory services in financial
restructuring transactions, has been hired by Trenwick to assist
in the evaluation and implementation of a possible restructuring
of its outstanding indebtedness and preferred equity.

Included in Trenwick's indebtedness at December 31, 2002 and 2001
are senior notes with an aggregate principal amount of $75.0
million which are due April 1, 2003. Trenwick's current focus is
to restructure these senior notes and it has initiated dialogue
with the note holders with respect to restructuring this debt
prior to March 1, 2003 to meet the deadline established for such
restructuring in the recent renewal of Trenwick's letter of
credit facility.

Background Information

Trenwick is a Bermuda-based specialty insurance and reinsurance
underwriting organization with two principal businesses operating
through its subsidiaries located in the United States, the United
Kingdom and Bermuda. Trenwick's reinsurance business provides
treaty reinsurance to insurers of property and casualty risks
from offices in the United States and Bermuda. Trenwick's
operations at Lloyd's of London underwrite specialty insurance as
well as treaty and facultative reinsurance on a worldwide basis.
In 2002, Trenwick voluntarily placed into runoff its U.S.
specialty program business and its specialty London market
insurance company, Trenwick International Limited, and sold the
in-force business of LaSalle Re Limited.

To see financial statements:

TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Ex-CFO Pleads Not Guilty To Charges
Mark Swartz, former Chief Finance Officer of Bermuda-based
conglomerate, Tyco International, Ltd., entered a plea of not
guilty during his arraignment on Thursday, reports the Associated
Press. The former executive is facing federal tax evasion charges
in Concord, in addition to corruption and larceny charges he is
facing in Manhattan.

Mr. Swartz was allowed to remain free on a US$5 million personal
recognizance bill, by Judge Joseph DiClerico. Mr. Swartz is also
free on a US$50 million bail from the Manhattan case.

An earlier report by the Associated Press on Tuesday said that
Mr. Swartz is accused of evading almost US$5 million in federal
income taxes by allegedly failing to indicate in his 1999 tax
return a US$12.5 million bonus from Tyco. According to the
indictment, the bonus in question was the result of forgiveness
for a US$12.5 debt he owed the Company.

Mr. Swartz may be sentenced a maximum of 5 years in prison and
pay up to US$250,000 in fines. Charles Stillman, Mr. Swartz'
legal counsel said they will be ready for the trial set to start
on April 15.

         Corporate Office
         The Zurich Centre, Second Floor
         90 Pitts Bay Road
         Pembroke HM 08, Bermuda
         Phone: 441-292-8674
         Home Page:
         Gary Holmes (Media)
         Phone: +1-212-424-1314
         Kathy Manning (Investors)
         Phone: +1-603-778-9700


COPEL: President Calls For Power Purchase Contract Review
Eletrobras President Luiz Pinguelli emphasized the need to review
a contract for purchase of Argentine electricity by Brazilian
utility COPEL. In 1998, Brazilian utilities, including COPEL,
signed with Endesa a US$2.5-billion accord, under which the
Spanish company will supply for 20 years energy produced in
Argentina and transmitted through a power line linking the two

The agreement forced COPEL to buy energy from Endesa produced in
Argentina and sold by Cia. de Interconexao Energetica (CIEN). The
mandate remains even though COPEL has an oversupply of
electricity that it cannot sell in Brazil.

Moreover, Copel bought energy from Endesa at US$28 a
megawatt/hour and the price for excess electricity in the
wholesale energy market goes for BRL4 ($1.10). For these reasons,
the Parana government last week ordered COPEL to suspend the

"Prices for this power are outrageous. But a contract is a
contract and we should honor it. On the other hand, when prices
are so high, there is the need for a joint discussion of the
problem," Pinguelli said.

Representatives of the two countries are due to meet in Buenos
Aires early in March to discuss the issue.

CONTACT:  COPEL (in Brazil)
          Othon Mader Ribas
          Tel. 011-5541-222-2027

          Solange Maueler
          Tel. 011-5541-331-4359

          (New York)
          Richard Huber
          Tel. 212-807-5026

          Isabel Vieira
          Tel. 212-807-5110

Brazil's state development bank demanded AES Corp. give up
control of AES Tiete SA generator and Eletropaulo Metropolitana
SA as payment for US$1.2 billion owed to the bank, Bloomberg
reports, citing Valor Economico newspaper.

However, AES, which produces power in 33 countries, said that the
option is out of the question.

"AES has every intention of keeping Eletropaulo," according to a
company spokesperson.Instead, the US-based power company
presented two solutions for resolving the debt.

The first proposal involves bringing in a new partner or group of
investors to Eletropaulo, as well as handing over the 640MW
Uruguaiana thermoelectric power plant to BNDES.

The second proposal would involve handing over Uruguaiana and
AES' Rio Grande do Sul state-based distributor, AES Sul, and a
renegotiation of any outstanding debt.

"AES could allow a new partner into Eletropaulo, that could come
from the market or from a consortium," said Jose Pio Borges, a
former president of BNDES who originally authorized the loans to
AES in April 1998.

Mr. Borges said he would be working with a group of consultants
hired by AES to provide strategic advice for operations in Brazil
and help restructure the group's debts.

In 1998, AES invested US$3.6 billion to buy into Eletropaulo,
including US$1.6 billion of its own cash and US$2 billion in debt
from BNDES channeled primarily through two holding companies, AES
Elpa and AES Transgas.

AES and the subsidiaries have already paid back US$940 million of
the principal owed to BNDES, but recent turbulence in the
electric power market coupled with the heavy US-denominated debt
burden has pushed the companies close to, or into, default on the
outstanding amounts.

AES Elpa recently defaulted on a US$85 million payment and
Transgas is seeking to extend the terms of its debts. All told,
AES has invested US$4 billion of its own cash in Brazil. Beyond
Eletropaulo, AES spent US$2.4 billion to buy AES Sul and
Uruguaiana, and generator AES Tiete.

          Avenida Alfredo Egidio de Souza Aranha 100-B,
          13 andar 04726-270 San Paulo
          Phone: +55-11-548-9461, +55 11 5696 3595
          Fax: +55-11-546-1933
          Luiz D. Travesso, Chairman and President
          Orestes Gonzalves Jr., VP Finance/Investor Relations

          AES Corp., Arlington
          Kenneth R. Woodcock, 703/522-1315
          Web site
          Investor relations:

TELESP CELULAR: Reassures Market on Short-Term Liquidity
Francisco Padinha, CEO of Telesp Celular Participacoes, confirmed
that the Brazilian mobile holding company will have no problems
in paying BRL2 billion (US$550mn) in short-term debt obligations
due this year, relates Business News Americas.

Of the total outstanding debt, BRL1 billion will be paid with the
Company's cash generation, BRL700 million through commercial
papers launched last month, and the remaining BRL300 million via
pre-established loans from local banks, Padinha said. The six-
month maturity commercial papers were launched to the domestic
market in an operation expected to conclude before February 28.

Meanwhile, TCP is yet to decide on what to do with the US$240
million in overhedge left over from 2002, company CFO Edson Alves
Menini said.

"We have two options: either sell at market prices, or apply the
amount to other dollar-denominated obligations like capex,
handsets and IT contracts," Menini said.

TCP planned the hedge operations before knowing it would issue a
BRL2.4-billion capital increase in December 2002.

TCP controls Sao Paulo-based mobile operator Telesp Celular and
Global Telecom in Brazil's south region.

          Edson Menini, Investor Relations

VESPER/IMPSAT FIBER: Partner to Offer Bundled Services
Brazilian local exchange carrier Vesper and the Brazilian unit of
Argentine corporate communications provider Impsat Fiber Networks
have formed a partnership, an association seen by analysts as a
win-win situation. The two companies partnered to offer
international long distance telephony to the corporate market,
and claimed that they will offer the lowest prices on the market.

Fabio Zaffalon, a fixed line analyst at Yankee Group, sees the
partnership as a win-win situation. Vesper benefits from using
Impsat's network as well as its long distance license, while
Impsat can avoid heavy capex it would take to launch telephony
services on its own. Impsat also will gain Vesper's last-mile
connectivity, he added.

VESPER: New Services Expected to Aid Growth
Brazilian local exchange carrier Vesper is forecasting the
international long distance services launched Wednesday will
contribute significantly to the Company's 60 percent growth
projection this year.

The new addition to the Company is in cooperation with the
Brazilian arm of Argentine corporate communications provider
Impsat Fiber Networks. Vesper is expecting that about 30-40
percent of its 5,000 corporate clients to use the international
long distance services within one year.

Vesper Business manager Rance Hesketh told Business News Americas
that the Company plans to offer a minimum of 25 percent discount
on international calls. He added that the Company may even offer
a 60 percent discount on Brazil-U.S. calls, whose average rate is
about BRL0.5-0.6 per minute and still make profit.

Mr. Hesketh said that although competition from post-
privatization long distance operators, Embratel (NYSE: EMT) and
Intelig, has been a factor, they have neglected the corporate
market. In the local market, the Company's competitors include
incumbents Telesp and Telemar.

The Company also plans to offer national long distance services
when it receives a license from the country's local regulator,
Anatel. The report indicated that Vesper's national long distance
network would be the most extensive in Brazil, since it operates
in two of Brazil's three local service regions.

Mr. Hesketh made it clear that the Company would need a domestic
long distance license to offer intra-regional services, even if
it offers intra-regional long distance services already. Last
year, 88 percent of all long distance calls were domestic, said
the report.

The country's long distance market is expected to bill BRL1.13
billion this year.

CONTACT:  Qualcomm Inc
          5775 Morehouse Dr.
          San Diego, CA 92121-1714
          Phone: 858-587-1121
          Fax: 858-658-2100
          Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs, Chairman & Chief Executive


* Fitch Sees IMF Pact Improving Ecuador Credit
Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday that, should Ecuador complete two
remaining prior actions as part of its agreement with the IMF,
the Andean country's sovereign credit outlook could improve.
Fitch currently has a long-term foreign currency sovereign rating
of 'CCC+' for Ecuador with a Stable Outlook.

Ecuador has signed a letter of intent for a US$200 million IMF
program which would make the country eligible for an additional
US$230 million in exceptional financing from the Inter-American
Development Bank and the World Bank, closing the expected US$1.37
billion financing gap for 2003. Uncertainty regarding this year's
fiscal financing plan had been a constraint on the 'CCC+' long-
term foreign currency and 'C' short-term foreign currency

The first prior action is to clear approximately US$150 million
in arrears to multilateral and Paris Club creditors. The second
is congressional approval of the president's budget, which
includes a public sector wage freeze and a US$18/barrel Ecuador
oil price assumption. Ecuador's oil basket trades at about
US$3.20 below West Texas crude. Should congress fail to approve
the president's budget, the executive could veto congress'
version, a step that could lead to another congressional vote and
delay or even prevent final approval of the program, which is
expected to go to the IMF board around March 12. President
Gutierrez currently lacks a majority in the divided legislature,
making it difficult to predict the fate of legislation with

The president's proposed budget projects a non-financial public
sector cash surplus of 1.9% of GDP, compared with a reported 1.1%
of GDP cash surplus in 2002. When the US$600 million in arrears
accumulated last year are considered, however, the non-financial
public sector registered a deficit of 1.3% of GDP. The 3.2% of
GDP adjustment is therefore quite ambitious. With expenditures
expected to rise by 0.2% of GDP this year, all of the adjustment
is projected to come from the revenue side. The gasoline price
increase enacted in January could yield US$400 million or 1.5% of
GDP, and a potential adjustment in cooking fuel could bring in
another US$150 million or 0.6% of GDP. No other significant new
taxes or changes in rates have been enacted to support increased
revenues, however, so additional revenues are likely to come from
public enterprises and improved collections. The president has
stated his commitment to root out corruption in customs, and
transfers from Petroecuador, and the electricity and telephone
utilities could also be boosted. Tax reform including the issue
of revenue earmarking is a performance criterion for the proposed
IMF program, but it is not due until December, so the impact of
such a reform would not take effect until 2004.

The IMF will conduct quarterly reviews of adherence to program
performance criteria beginning in June and if interim fiscal and
structural goals are not met, ongoing disbursements could be
halted. In addition to tax reform, structural performance
requirements include labor reform, tariff reform, liquidating
intervened banks, and reform of the electricity and
telecommunications sectors. Given Ecuador's tenuous cash
position, disbursement suspensions could lead to delayed payments
to creditors.

The ratings could be upgraded if authorities demonstrate progress
in implementing the program agreed with the IMF, specifically, in
meeting their ambitious fiscal goals; if the government's cash
position is improved; political risks do not increase markedly;
and if progress is made on liquidating banks taken over following
the 1999-2000 banking crisis.


* U.S. 'De-certification' May Cost Guatemala IMF Loan, Aid
The recent declaration by the United States that Guatemala is
uncooperative in fighting the drug trade has held up the
country's US$500 million bond sale, says Bloomberg. According to
the finance ministry, the sale has been put off for at least a
week to allow its adviser, Morgan Stanley, to re-work the
prospectus to include a clarification for the U.S. decision.  It
now sees the bonds going on sale early next month at best, the
news agency says.

"There are some questions still in the air that need to be
answered.  The sale is now planned for the end of the month or
early March," Finance Ministry spokesperson Ingrid Cardenas told
Bloomberg in a telephone interview.

In 'decertifying' Guatemala, the U.S. cited "public corruption
that facilitates drug trafficking" and a decline in drug
seizures.  The U.S. currently maintains a list of countries,
which it certifies as cooperative in the fight against
international drug trafficking.

The immediate impact of the so-called de-certification, according
to Bloomberg, might be felt by the country come March 31 when it
renews a US$110 million credit line with the International
Monetary Fund.  The U.S. Congress has previously ordered its IMF
representative to "aggressively use his voice" to combat drug-
related money laundering.  In addition, the U.S. is the largest
shareholder in the IMF.

Meanwhile, Guatemala is also the recipient of some US$50 million
in direct U.S. aid.  Fortunately, U.S. officials waived a
Congressional rule that could have cut this aid after the country
was 'decertified,' Bloomberg says.

Guatemala plans to use the bond sale proceeds to boost its
international reserves and fund programs to aid farmers.
Standard & Poor's rates the country 'BB', two levels below
investment grade, Bloomberg says.  In November 2001, Guatemala
also sold US$325 million of 10-year bonds, with a yield of 7.9


CORPORACION DURANGO: Default Persists, Fitch Cuts Ratings To 'D'
Fitch Ratings has downgraded the unsecured corporate foreign and
local currency ratings of Corporacion Durango (Durango) to 'D'
from 'C'. In conjunction with this rating action, the ratings of
the senior unsecured notes due in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2009 have
been downgraded to 'D' from 'C'. The outstanding amount of debt
for these notes is $18.2 million, $301.7 million, $10.3 million
and $175 million, respectively.

On January 15, 2003, Durango missed interest payments on its
notes due in 2009 and on February 1, 2003 the company failed to
make interest payments on its notes due in 2003, 2006, and 2008.
The downgrades to the 'D' rating category from 'C' were triggered
by a failure of Durango to cure the missed payment on the 2009
notes during the 30 day grace period. The default ratings that
have been assigned to the company and its notes indicate that
potential recovery levels are below 50%.

Durango finished the period ended September 30, 2002 with $835
million of total debt, $30 million of cash and marketable
securities and $133 million of short-term debt. During the first
nine months of 2002, the company generated $95 million of EBITDA,
a drop from $122 million during a similar period in 2001.
Durango's weak financial performance during 2002 was a result of
lower prices for its products and stagnant demand.

To counteract these problems and to reduce its debt, Durango
sought to divest more than $150 million of assets. To date, the
company has not sold any of its assets.

Durango has retained financial advisors to assist it in the
restructuring process. Holders of the notes, which are at the
holding company, are currently subordinate to about $160 million
of secured debt or debt at operating companies. They face the
risk of a reduction in principal amount and a lowering of the

Looking forward, Fitch Ratings continues to be concerned about
the inability of the company to accurately project the cash
generation capacity of its businesses, which suggests that the
company may not have adequate information technology. The
financial health of the company's customers in Mexico continues
to be an issue of concern. At the end of September 2002, the days
receivables were outstanding was high at 74 days. Furthermore, in
recent years, a substantial number of export-related
manufacturing (maquiladora) facilities have been shuttered in
Mexico, as a result of the decision by multinationals to relocate
these operations in Asia. This could also hinder a rebound in the
company's performance.

CONTACT:  Fitch Ratings
          Joe Bormann, CFA
          Phone: 1-312-368-3349

          Victor Villarreal
          Phone: 011-52-818-335-7239

          James Jockle, Media Relations
          New York
          Phone: 1-212-908-0547

GRUPO DESC: 4Q02 Results Show Negative Momentum's Affects
Desc, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE:DES; BMV:DESC) announced Wednesday its
unaudited results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2002.
All figures were prepared according to generally accepted
accounting principles in Mexico. Desc's 4Q02 consolidated results
reflect the impact of the slowdown in economic activity in Mexico
and the United States on the Company's Autoparts and Chemical
Sectors. The figures for the fourth quarter of 2002 reflect the

- Lower sales in the Autoparts Sector as a result of the
temporary shutdowns in some of the assembly plants during
December to reduce inventory levels, the closing of the Daimler
Chrysler Lago Alberto Plant in Mexico City, and the delay of new
projects with partners.

- The increase in main raw material prices in the Chemical Sector
and the inability to pass them onto sales prices due to a weaker
demand and high competition.

- The decline in pork prices, which affected the results of the
pork business.

- The decline in budgeted sales from the Real Estate Sector due
to the postponement of sales in Punta Mita as well as the land
reserves adjacent to the Santa Fe Shopping Mall.


Sales declined 14.7%, from US$513 million in 4Q01 to US$437
million in 4Q02. The operating loss was US$17 million and
EBITDA reached US$19 million.

During 2002, sales, operating income and EBITDA declined 8.3%,
39.6% and 22.6%, respectively, compared to 2001.

During the fourth quarter, sales declined 14.7% to US$437 million
compared to US$513 million reached during the same period of the
previous year. This decline was due to the 29.6% drop in the
Autoparts Sector caused by the temporary shutdowns of some OEM's
during December 2002, the closing of the Daimler Chrysler plant
in Mexico City and the delay in sales from new projects.

Revenues from the Chemical Sector increased 8.0%, compared to
4Q01, due to the increase in sales volumes in the carbon black,
rubber emulsion, and polystyrene businesses, as a result of the
repositioning of inventories by some clients.

Sales from the Food Sector remained in-line with the levels
reported during 4Q01. In the Real Estate Sector, sales declined
83.7% due the postponement in sales from Punta Mita and land
reserves of the Santa Fe Shopping Mall to 2003.

Total exports declined 11.2% from US$215 million in 4Q01 to
US$191 million in 4Q02. During the quarter, exports represented
43.7% of total sales.

On an annualized basis, exports declined by 7.6% and represented
45.6% of total sales.


During 4Q02, the Company registered an operating loss of US$ 17
million, which translated into a negative 3.8% operating margin.
EBITDA for the quarter was US$19 million, 73.3% below the US$70
million reported during the same period of the previous year.

Operating income for the year was US$106 million, a 39.6% decline
when compared to the figure reported for 2001. For 2002, the
operating margin was 5.3% which was below the 8.1% reached in
2001. EBITDA declined 22.6% from US$302 million in 2001 to US$234
million in 2002.

During the quarter, tax provisions were US$4 million which
included Income and Asset Taxes and Employee Profit Sharing.
Deferred taxes had a positive effect in the amount of US$3
million. During 2002, Income and Asset Taxes and Employee Profit
Sharing were US$66 million, 25.5% below the figure registered in
2001 due to the lower operating income and the monetary exchange
loss as a result of the peso devaluation.

Net majority loss for the fourth quarter of 2002 was US$71
million, as a result of the decline in operating income, the
depreciation of the peso against the dollar and the extraordinary
charges related to the closing of the pork business in the Bajio

During the 4Q02, Desc registered a net debt increase of US$34
million over the 3Q02, mainly due to the working capital
requirements. As of December 31, 2002 net debt was practically at
the same levels of 2001.

At the end of the quarter, the debt composition was 71% dollar-
denominated and 29% peso-denominated. The average cost of debt at
December 31, 2002 was 4.6% in dollars and 9.2% in pesos, compared
to 5.0% and 10.3%, respectively in 4Q01. As of December 31, 2002,
the debt profile was 28% in short-term and 72% in long-term debt.

Change in the Name of the Autoparts Sector
As part of the restructure that took place at Desc, during the
fourth quarter of 2002, Unik S.A. de C.V. changed its name to
Desc Automotriz, S.A. de C.V.

During 2002, the total number of employees declined by 15.6% from
19,344 in 2001 to 16,324 as of December 2002, which will
translate into a reduction in costs and expenses of approximately
US$10 million in 2003. Desc aims to have a corporate structure
that enables it to have an agile and efficient decision-making


Autoparts Sector

During the quarter sales declined 29.6% compared to the amount
achieved during the same period of the previous year due to the
following factors:

1) The reduction in orders from OEMs in the United States and
Mexico caused by the temporary shutdowns in their facilities
during December, which in some cases lasted for three weeks.
These temporary closings affected sales volumes in the piston and
cv joint businesses.

2) The delay in the Tractor Project due to the implications of
moving production facilities to Mexico, including the
installation and validation of machinery which took longer than
expected and which were finalized at the end of 2002.

3) The closing of the Daimler Chrysler Lago Alberto plant in
Mexico City mainly affecting the axle, cv joint and pick-up bed
truck businesses.

4) The loss of market share by the three big North American
producers against their European and Asian counterparts mainly
affecting the after market business, which declined 4.5% compared
to 4Q01.

5) The closing of the spark plug and electrical components
businesses completed during the second quarter of 2002.

Mexico's total automobile production as of December 2002 was
1,839,438, a 0.7% decrease compared to the same period of 2001.
December production declined 38% when compared to the same month
of 2001.

Operating Income was affected by the aforementioned factors and
translated into a operating loss of US$9 million. As a result,
operating margin was -5.5% and EBITDA was US$ 11 million.

During the quarter the following businesses presented increases
in volumes sold compared to 4Q01: transmissions components 44.2%,
aluminum wheels 80.9%, cv joints 18.4% and tappets 9.2%.

The most significant sales volume reductions were seen in pick-up
beds 85.8%, pistons 69.6%, cardan shafts 43.9%, light
transmissions 24.8%, heavy-duty transmissions 20.3% and steel
wheels 4.1%.

Exports reached US$102 million, a 29.8% when compared to the
previous year.

The average capacity utilization in the transmission, stamping,
axle and cv joint businesses reached approximately 54%.

Sales per employee increased to US$116.8 thousand, from US$ 112.0
thousand in the same period of the previous year. This
improvement reflects the layoffs that took place during 4Q02.

During 2002, sales, operating income and EBITDA for the Autoparts
Sector declined by 13.7%, 41.0% and 24.9%, respectively, compared
to the previous year.

Chemical Sector

During the fourth quarter, sales increased 8.0% compared to 4Q01,
as a result of higher sales of carbon black by 42.7%, emulsion
rubber by 12.8% and polystyrene by 6.7%. This is also a result of
the repositioning of inventories by clients due to the
seasonality in demand at the end of the year.

Notwithstanding, operating income declined resulting in a 0.2%
operating margin due to:

- A decline in prices caused by the global economic downturn and
the intense competition, which resulted in lower prices as a
result of the oversupply worldwide.

- The increase in the prices of raw materials, as a result of the
continued volatility in the oil and oil products markets, which
were not reflected in sales prices.

- A decline in the prices of the laminate business caused by the
oversupply in this market.

The Chemical Sector's sales, operating income and EBITDA declined
2.9%, 33.6% and 17.5%, respectively year-over-year.

Branded Products

During the quarter, sales from the branded products business
increased due to the following:

- The steady grow in market share of practically all products in
the domestic and U.S. markets.

- The increase in domestic prices between 2.0%, in most of the
categories, and 14.0% in the case of La Gloria cooking oil brand.

The decline in demand as a result of the economic downturn in
Mexico and the U.S. was partially compensated by the launching of
a new line of chiles and salsa Del Fuerte and the distribution of
Ybarra caned tuna.

There were also negative variations in costs at the ASF plant in
California, which resulted in higher production costs that
affected the results.

The quarter results were affected by the increase in shipping
tariffs and advertising expenses. Despite the decline in the
results of the fourth quarter, the accumulated results are
significantly better due to higher sales, the continued
improvement in Mexican plant operation, the negotiations with
suppliers of raw materials and strict cost controls.

Pork Business

Sales of the pork business reached US$ 36 million, a 10.0%
decrease when compared to US$40 million registered during the
same quarter of 2001. This was mainly due to the losing of the
Bajio region operation. Pork prices declined 22.0% from 17.86
pesos/kg in 4Q01 to 13.94 pesos/kg in 4Q02.

Pork volumes increased 7.7% from 24,273 tons in 4Q01 to 26,139
tons in 4Q02. Operating income increased 62.9% as a result of the
increase in volumes and the lower costs due to the closing of the
Bajio operations.

Real Estate Sector

Quarter-over-quarter, sales declined to US$4 million as a result
of the pending projects, which are expected to be completed
during the first months of 2003.

Sales for the quarter were broken down as follows:

- Punta Mita 83%
- Bosques de Santa Fe 9%
- La Estadia 6%
- Others 2%

During the quarter, the Real Estate Sector reported an operating
loss of US$3 million reflecting the lower sales which were
insufficient to absorb the fixed costs of the sector.
In 2002, sales, operating income and EBITDA declined 9.9%, 44.1%
and 40.6%, respectively, against 2001.

In Punta Mita, the marketing, sale and development of large lots
called Ranchos and residential land with ocean and golf course
views continued. Desc initiated the construction of a villa
complex called "Villas Four Seasons" targeted towards the
affluent segment of the market, which continues to show interest
for this destination. The Four Seasons Hotel will service this

In addition, one of our main clients successfully concluded their
negotiations with a prestigious hotel chain for the construction
of hotels in Punta Mita, generating greater affluence to this
destination and thus promoting its dynamisms and increasing
interest from the market.

CONTACT:  Marisol Vazquez Mellado
          Alejandro de la Barreda / Adriana Estrada
          Tel.: (5255) 5261 8037

GRUPO SIMEC: Announces 1 for 20 Reverse Stock Split
Grupo Simec (Amex- SIM) announced that effective Thursday it has
effected a 1 for 20 reverse stock split of its shares of Series B
common stock which trade on the Mexican stock exchange. As a
result, Grupo Simec's American Depositary Shares, which prior to
the reverse stock split represented 20 shares of Series B common
stock for each American Depositary Share, will, effective Friday,
represent 1 share of Series B common stock for each American
Depositary Share.

CONTACT:  Grupo Simec, S.A. de C.V.
          Adolfo Luna Luna
          Jose Flores Flores

PEMEX: Restores Normal NatGas Supplies to Ispat Mexicana
Mexican paper El Norte reports that federal oil company Pemex
resumed normal supply to natural gas to steelmaker Ispat
Mexicana. A 20 percent reduction in natural gas supply imposed
last month, forced Ispat to shut down of its four gas-fed
furnaces, reducing sponge iron production by 36,000 tons.

El Norte quoted Ispat energy chief Alberto Guevara saying that
supplies were returned to the usual 145 million cubic feet/day.
The restoration allows the Company to cover "practically all" of
its needs.

However, Mexico's Energy Minister Ernesto Martens denied the
existence of any natural gas supply shortage in the country, said
El Norte. The newspaper did not disclose Pemex's reasons for
trimming down natgas supply to Ispat.

Ispat Mexicana is based in Lazaro Cardenas, and is a subsidiary
of Dutch company Ispat International.

          Marina Nacional 329, Colonia Huasteca
          11311 M,xico, D.F., Mexico
          Phone: +52-55-5531-6061
          Fax: +52-55-5531-6321

             Raul Munoz Leos, General Director
             Jose A. Ceballos Soberanis, Director Corporate
             Jose Juan Suarez Coppel, Director Corporate Finance

          T. N. Ramaswamy, Director Finance
          Phone: +44-20-7543-1174

          Annanya Sarin, Head of Communications
          Phone: +44-20-7543-1162, or +31-10-404-6738

          John McInerney, Investor Relations
          Citigate Dewe Rogerson
          Phone: +1-212-419-4219

UNEFON: Revenues Up, Trims Overall Net Loss In 2002
Mexican mobile operator Unefon reduced its net loss last year by
22% to US$93.5 million from US$107 million in the previous year,
reports Business News Americas, citing Unefon's 2002 earnings
statement. Unefon ended 2002 with 1.36 million subscribers.

Revenues for the year 2002 increased 101%, with service revenues
more than doubling to US$250 million, and handset sales were up
33% at US$57.3 million, despite a 19% decrease in gross adds,
which totaled 535,000 compared to 2001's 660,000.

EBITDA was US$61 million compared to a US$37 million EBITDA loss
in 2001.

The Company's CEO, Adrian Steckel, is hopeful that Unefon should
be able to finance moderate growth in capex this year through
generation of free cash flow, which is expected to increase. The
Company also sees a further expansion of client base during 2003,
but Steckel declined to give a year-end projection.

Unefon has non-restricted cash amounting to US$15 million and
this year has short-term debt on the order of US$30 million -
US$40 million coming due, as well as deferred advertising
obligations and other payments to TV Azteca worth US$18 million -
US$20 million.

The operator's network covers the country's 15 largest cities, or
80% of Mexico's urban population, and Steckel recently announced
plans to expand operations to four more cities this year.

Steckel also indicated that this year's development of data
networks at rival operators Telefonica Moviles Mexico, Telcel and
Iusacell was a major concern, even though Unefon targets a lower
income segment that has less use for data.

Unefon's major shareholders are local businessman Moises Saba and
TV Azteca.

CONTACT:  Unefon S.A. De CV
          Head Office
          Puriferico Sur 4119 Fuentes del
          Mexico 14141
          Tel: +52 8582 50000
          Fax: +52 8582 5052
          Web site:
          Engr Moises M. Saba, Chairman
          Pedro L. Padilla, Vice Chairman

          Nortel Networks Corp.
          Head Office
          Suite 100
          8200 Dixie Road
          L6T 5P6
          Tel  +1 905 863-0000
          Fax  +1 905 863-8423
          Lynton R. Wilson, Chairman
          Frank A. Dunn, President & Chief Executive


AMERICA TV: Ownership Change Expected Soon
Two Peruvian publishers and a Colombian Television presented a
proposal to the Lima Stock Exchange to take over America TV, a
television broadcaster in the Peruvian capital, reports

The proposal indicated that the publishers of Lima daily
newspapers El Comercio and La Republica are teaming up with
Colombia's Caracol Television to buy control of America TV. In
their proposal, the group offered to take on the TV station's
debt with Mexico's television group Grupo Televisa SA, Banco
Wiese Sudameris and Banco Internacional del Peru. In return, they
will each hold one-third of the Plural TV SAC venture.

Jose Antonio Miro Quesada, who runs El Comercio's Internet unit,
said that the Colombian-Peruvian group plans to invest US$22
million, US$14.5 million for the debt and the rest for working
capital and to upgrade equipment.

Currently, America TV channel is being managed by an
administration appointed by creditors. The channel's former
owners, the Crousillat family, lost control as debt mounted and
amid legal problems related to corruption charges.

PAN AMERICAN: 2002 Operations Show Improvement, Cost Containment
Pan American Silver Corp's (Nasdaq - PAAS; TSX - PAA) silver
production reached a record level in 2002. Pan American now
operates four wholly owned primary silver mines that produced a
total of 7.8 million ounces of silver in 2002, up 12 percent from
that of 2001. Total cash costs for consolidated production were
$4.16 per ounce of silver in 2002, compared with $4.36 in 2001.
Pan American also produced a record amount of by- product metals
in 2002, including 39,081 tonnes of zinc and 20,790 tonnes of
lead. Silver production for 2003 is forecast to increase to 10.3
million ounces.

The best producer of Pan American's operations in 2002 was the
Huaron mine in Peru, which Pan American opened in mid-2001.
Huaron yielded 4.5 million ounces of silver at a total cash cost
of $3.66 per ounce, net of by- product credits. By-product
credits were depressed because of the record low zinc price
during 2002 (35 cents per pound). The mine turned in an
outstanding performance in 2002, due in part to a wide zone of
mineralization discovered early in the year. At year-end, mill
throughput was increased by about 10 percent and silver
production for 2003 is forecast to increase to 4.9 million

The Company's Quiruvilca mine in Peru continues to struggle
against low metal prices, especially since the veins being mined
become more zinc-rich with depth. Silver production in 2002 was
scaled back further to 2.5 million ounces at a total cash cost of
$5.15 per ounce of silver, net of by-product credits. The Company
continues to review available options to reduce the mine's
continuing losses, including closure. To offset the negative
impact of continued low zinc prices, the Company has hedged
approximately one half of its projected 2003 zinc production from
Quiruvilca by selling forward approximately 9,000 tonnes of zinc
at an average price of 38 cents per pound. The carrying value of
Quiruvilca was written down by $15.13 million in the third
quarter, and a reclamation accrual will be taken in the fourth
quarter. On a positive note, Pan American's two gold assets
adjacent to Quiruvilca are under active exploration by Barrick
Gold following Barrick's announcement of a 7.6 million ounce gold
discovery at the nearby Alto Chicama property.

In November, Pan American acquired a small but profitable silver
operation in central Peru and estimates annual production of
about 0.54 million ounces annually at an average total cash cost
of about $1.65 per ounce over a 10-year period. In 2002, this
operation produced 101,459 ounces of silver at a cash cost of
$1.50 per ounce.

In Mexico, the La Colorada mine continued to operate at a small
scale, producing 626,035 ounces of silver. A major mine expansion
began in July, which will increase production to an average of
3.8 million ounces annually at an estimated total cash cost of
$2.65 when it is completed in July 2003. La Colorada is expected
to be Pan American's most profitable and purest silver mine, with
over 90 percent of its value derived from silver sales.
Construction to date is on schedule and within its $20 million
budget. Remaining costs will be largely funded from a $10 million
loan from the International Finance Corporation, a member of the
World Bank Group.

Pan American advanced three development projects during 2002. In
June, the Company agreed to acquire Corner Bay Silver via a share
exchange, and this is scheduled to close on February 20. Corner
Bay's main asset is the 100 million ounce Alamo Dorado silver
property in Mexico. Alamo Dorado is nearly ready for development
as a new open pit silver mine capable of producing about 6
million ounces of silver per year over an 8 year mine life at an
estimated total cash cost of $3.25 per ounce.

In Bolivia, Pan American's San Vicente project produced about 1.1
million ounces of silver under a short-term toll-milling
agreement with a Bolivian company. Pan American is considering
advancing the property towards a feasibility study later in 2003.
In Russia, the Dukat mine reportedly began producing in December,
but no silver sales have yet been made and operations information
is not yet available. Finally, in Argentina, Pan American's 50
percent owned Manantial Espejo project returned excellent high
grade silver- gold results in a further 6,000-meter drilling
program targeted on the wide veins on the property. Plans for
2003 are to progress the property towards a feasibility study
through underground development and additional drilling.

Pan American's Chairman and CEO Ross Beaty, said "Our focus in
2002 was on building our silver production base so we can fully
deliver to our shareholders superior leverage to higher silver
prices, both in terms of capital assets and immediate revenue. We
fully delivered on this objective and we also set the stage for
tremendous further growth in the near future. I really look
forward to continuing these efforts in 2003, with our outstanding
pipeline of primary silver development projects."

Pan American will announce its financial results for the year on
March 10 and will discuss them in a conference call to be held on
March 11. Details of the conference call will be announced in
late February.

          Ross J. Beaty, Chairman and C.E.O.
          Rosie Moore, VP Corporate Relations, 604-684-1175

VOLCAN: Workers Return, Yauli Operations Back To Normal
Operations at Peruvian zinc miner Volcan's Carahuarca mine, part
of the Yauli complex, have returned to normal after the Company
settled a conflict with the mine's workers. Business News
Americas recalls that on February 15, about 100 workers lodged a
protest against the Company, blocking the road leading to the

The protest, over back payments, prevented workers from entering
the Victoria concentrator and led to Yauli operations being
suspended for 48 hours. Volcan then said it made the back
payments and operations returned to normal February 18.

Earlier this month, Volcan also ceased operations at its mineral
treatment plan Mahr Tunel, the largest zinc miner in Peru. The
Company didn't say when the suspension, which was seen by an
analyst as a move to cut costs, would be lifted.

As of September 30, Volcan had lost PEN49.5 million ($14.1
million) compared with a loss of PEN19.7 million ($5.62 million)
a year earlier.

Figures published recently by Peru's Energy and Mines Ministry
showed that Volcan's zinc production, which accounts for 85% of
the Company's income, had declined 13.6% in 2002 compared with a
year earlier to 275,935 tonnes of fine zinc in concentrates.

The official said a weeklong strike in October and a cash-flow
problem that led to a scarcity of inputs and lack of spare parts
had been responsible for the decline.

Volcan's goal in 2003 is to bring zinc output back to 2001
levels, when the company produced 319,317 tonnes of fine zinc in
concentrates, he said.

          Av Gregorio Escobedo
          710 Jesus Mara
          Lima, Peru
          Tel: +51 1 219-4000
          Fax: +51 1 261-9716
          Mr. FMG Sayan (Francisco), Chairperson

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Romero Withdraws Lawsuit, Unions Deny Involvement
A lawsuit filed by shareholder Demetra Romero against Trinidad
and Tobago flagship carrier, BWIA, was withdrawn from the High
Court on Monday. The case was filed on December 20, 2002, seeking
a forensic audit of BWIA, review of all its contracts, and
demanding the company offer to buy back shares from employees at
its original US$7.85 IPO price.

Earlier, Jagdeo Jagroop, president of the Communications and
Transport Trade Union said all the unions had agreed to pool
together their resources to cover the legal costs of the lawsuit.
However, an article released by the Trinidad Guardian indicated
that two unions denied any involvement despite Mr. Jagroop's

Aviation Communication and Allied Workers' Trade Union president
Christopher Abraham said he did not know anything about the
lawsuit. Theo Oliver, president of the Superintendents
Association also denied his union had any involvement in the
lawsuit, said the report.

          Phone: + 868 627 2942
          Home Page:
          Conrad Aleong, President and CEO (Trinidad)
          Beatrix Carrington, VP Marketing and Sales (Barbados)
          Paul Schutz, CFO (Trinidad)


PDVSA: Union Leaders Expected In New BoD Makeup
Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. may
include a number of union leaders in the expected announcement of
its new ten-member board, reports El Universal. Among the union
leaders reportedly slated to be included are Rafael Rosales from
Fedepetrol, and Nelson Nu¤ez from Sunapetrol oil union, said the
local paper.

The board, is expected to include Felix Rodriguez, who heads the
company's eastern operations, Luis Marin, chief of operations in
the west, and former Banco del Pueblo chief Humberto Ortega.

The new board was supposed to be sworn in by President Hugo
Chavez last Tuesday, but the event was cancelled, reports
Bloomberg News, without giving the explanation behind the

          Head Office
          Apdo 169
          Avenida Libertador La
          Campina, Caracas
          Venezuela 1010-A
          Phone:  +58 212 708 4111
          Fax  +58 212 708 4661
          Ali Rodriguez Araque, Chairman
          Jorge Kamkoff, Joint Vice Chairman
          Jose Rafael Paz, Joint Vice Chairman

SINCOR: Strike Repercussions To Cut Parent's Profit $100M
The 10-week stoppage at Sincor, one of the four heavy crude
upgrade projects in Venezuela, is expected to cut US$100 million
from the operating profit of its parent, the French petroleum
company TotalFinaElf SA, this year.

However, TotalFinaElf did its best to put a positive spin on the
news, according to a Dow Jones story. The parent company said
that the recent spike in crude oil prices - caused in part by
social and political unrest in Venezuela - will generate extra
gains that will more than offset the one-off charge stemming from
the Sincor facility.

"What we're losing in Venezuela isn't much compared to what we
are earning thanks to high crude oil prices," TotalFinaElf Chief
Financial Officer Robert Castaigne said.

The Sincor plant, which was idled Dec. 12, resumed production
last week. Sincor has a 200,000 barrel/day (b/d) capacity to
produce 32 degrees API synthetic crude.

* Venezuelan Domestic Bond Yields Spike On Default Concerns
Yields of Venezuelan domestic bonds surged as investors worry
that the oils revenue reduction brought about by an 80-day long
strike would force the country to default on its debt.

Notes worth VEB80 billion (US$50 million), maturing in 820 days
are priced to yield 54.9 percent, compared to the 35 percent
yield of similar notes issued in December 2001. Bloomberg noted
that it was the first time the country sold notes with a maturity
of more than one year.

The government sold another VEB30 billion of 534-day notes to
yield 59.8 percent, while a similar issue in May carried a 52
percent yield.

"Investors are reluctant to buy these notes as they fear that
they could be forced to roll them over in the future," said
Miguel Octavio, executive director of BBO Financial Services,
owner of Banco Bolivar bank, which holds domestic debt.

The country faces US$144 million of debt maturing by March. A
total of US$1.4 billion in debt will come due this year.

Fears that the country may default on debt sprang up when a
nationwide strike almost totally stopped oil exports, causing the
economy to contract by 17 percent in last year's fourth quarter

The strike was aimed at deposing president Hugo Chavez, who
retaliated by dismissing about 12,000 workers of state oil
company, PdVSA.


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.

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