TCRLA_Public/030313.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

           Thursday, March 13, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 51

                           Headlines


A R G E N T I N A

ACINDAR: Releases Fiscal Year 2002 Results
ARGENTINE BANKS: Central Bank Clarifies Currency Control Statute
MOLINOS RIO: To Forego Dividend Payments
PEREZ COMPANC: Releases 4Q02 Results
TRANSENER: Registers $172M Consolidated Net Loss For 2002


B E R M U D A

GLOBAL CROSSING: Investigation Negates Malpractice Allegations
GLOBAL CROSSING: Sale To Asian Companies Gets Creditors' Support


B R A Z I L

AES CORP: Prosecutors To Launch Probe Into BNDES Financing Deal
BRAZILIAN STEELMAKERS: Warn of Investment Freeze
BSE: Fitch Affirms National Ratings, Revises Rating Watch
ENERSIS: Brazilian Project To Start Testing By May
MRS LOGISTICA: Fitch Changes Rating Outlook To Stable

SANEPAR: Parana Governor Names New Board of Directors


C H I L E

ENERSIS: Strikes $2.3B Debt-Restructuring Deal With Banks
ENERSIS: Moody's Cuts Senior Unsecured Debt Rating To Ba3
ENDESA CHILE: Moody's Downgrades Rating To Junk Level
INVERLINK: Scandal Won't Taint Chile's Financial System
PEHUENCHE: Moody's Downgrades Debt Ratings To Ba3


C O L O M B I A

CARBOCOL: Colombia To Begin Liquidation Process
EMCALI: S&P Lowers Ratings to 'D'
EMCALI: To Save $34M Annually On Suspension of Debt Payments
TERMOEMCALI: S&P Lowers Notes to 'CC'


M E X I C O

ALESTRA: Billionaire Carlos Slim May Dictate Future
HYLSAMEX: To Boost Production At Galvak Under New Plan
VITRO: Notifies of General Ordinary Shareholders Meeting


P A R A G U A Y

COPACO: Expects To Win Lawsuit Filed By Cateppar
COPACO: Awaits Approval Of $10M Digitalization Investment


P A N A M A

BANCO GENERAL: S&P Affirms Ratings, Revises Outlook to Negative


U R U G U A Y

* Uruguay Seeks Debt Rescheduling To Hold Off Default


V E N E Z U E L A

PDVSA: Reports on El Palito Refinery Damages Contradictory

* Venezuela's Political Crisis Means Long-Term Ratings Impact

  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

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

ACINDAR: Releases Fiscal Year 2002 Results
------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires, March 11th, 2003 - Acindar S.A. (the "Company")
announced Tuesday a net loss for the period ended December 31,
2002 of Ps. 316.2 million. The loss is attributable primarily to
the Company's Financial and Holding Losses. The Financial and
Holding Losses mainly reflect the exchange losses caused by the
devaluation of the argentine Peso since January 2002. On July 17,
2002, the Argentine Government issued Decree Nĝ 1269/02 which
provides among other things for the reinstatement of inflation
accounting. Subsequently, the CNV issued Resolution Nĝ 415/2002
which authorizes inflation accounting for companies such Acindar
that have registered securities with the CNV, effective for any
financial statements corresponding to any period commencing on or
after January 1, 2002 and filed with the CNV subsequent to the
date of the resolution.

Financial data for the period ended December 31, 2001, presented
herein for comparative purposes, has been restated to December
31, 2002 using a conversion factor of 118%, which represents the
rate of inflation for the whole year starting January 1, 2002.

Revenues for the period increased by 6.5% compared to revenues
for the same period in 2001 principally due to higher export
sales. While export revenues, priced in foreign currencies,
increased practically in proportion to the devaluation of the
peso (which exceeded the rate of inflation significantly for the
same period), and also benefited from larger volumes, domestic
prices increased to reflect almost entirely the increase in the
Company's production costs. While electricity and natural gas
prices have not risen significantly, the Company cannot exclude
that in coming months, local costs increases (including
electricity and gas prices) may exceed significantly the rates of
devaluation. The Company believes that an increase in the rate of
inflation and a slowdown in the pace of the devaluation will
cause its margins, which are at historically high levels, to
contract to its average historical levels.

Operating Result

Net sales expressed in constant currency as of December 2002
increased 6.5%, to Ps. 1,062.2 millions for the period ended
December 31, 2002, as compared with Ps. 997.3 millions for the
same period of year 2001.

Domestic shipments posted a decrease of 12.5% in comparison with
the same period of year 2001. However, if sales of semi finished
products (billets) are excluded, the decrease on the domestic
sales reaches 23,7%, as a consequence of the deep recession of
the Argentine economy.

During the period the Company was able to increase domestic
prices to almost entirely compensate higher production costs.
Domestic net sales were Ps. 651.0 millions for the period ended
December 31, 2002, compared with Ps 703.2 millions for the same
period of Year 2001. Exports net sales posted a significant
increase, from Ps. 294.1 millions for the period ended December
31, 2001 to Ps. 411.2 millions for the same period of year 2002.
Export volume rose 26.9%, reaching 388.7 thousand tons as of
December 31, 2002. Although sale prices in domestic market
expressed in US dollars stayed below of those ones prevailing
before the change in the Argentine Monetary System, the Company
average price for year 2002 was 6.9% higher than for year 2001
(expressed in constant currency of December 2002).

In constant currency of December 2002, the average costs of the
Company fell 21.5% compared to the same period of the previous
year. This means that the increase in Acindar's input prices was
lower (on average) than the general rate of inflation as measured
by the wholesale internal price index. In addition, production
costs diminished due to: (i) a higher production level that
allowed a better absorption of fixed costs and (ii) significant
gains in productivity as a consequence of plans started at the
end of 2001.

Gross profits for year 2002 rose to Ps. 443.3 millions (41.7% of
net sales) compared to Ps 204.3 millions (20.5% of net sales) for
the same period of year 2001. Administration and selling expenses
for the year 2002, decreased 8.3% and 46.4% respectively in
comparison with the same period of 2001, due to the same causes
mentioned above. In the case of administration expenses,
extraordinary expenses related to debt restructuration were
recognized.

As a consequence of this performance EBITDA for year 2002 was Ps.
340.2 millions (32% of net sales), in comparison with Ps. 75.6
millions (7.6% of net sales) for the same period of the previous
year.

Financial income (expenses) and holding gains (losses)
represented a net loss of Ps. 536.5 millions, compared to a net
loss of Ps. 147.8 millions in the same period of year 2001.
Foreign exchange losses were Ps. 943.7 million, Ps. 60.5 million
of which was related to capital expenditure financing and as such
was capitalized in fixed assets according to accounting standards
and CNV Resolution # 398/02 (the Argentine securities and
exchange commission). Effect of exposure to inflation on assets
and liabilities resulted in a gain of Ps. 482.9 millions. Net
loss for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2002 amounted to
316.2 millions, not recording extraordinary results.

As a consequence, accumulated losses reached Ps 491.7 millions
with a negative stockholders equity of Ps. 29.0 millions.

As a consequence of Decree 1269/2002, clause 5 of section 94 of
law Nĝ 19,550 has been suspended until December 10, 2003. This
clause set the dissolution of a society due to a loss in the
stock holders equity.

Financial Situation

The Company's financial situation showed a gradual but steady
recovery during year 2002, though at the beginning of the year
financial conditions were extremely tough. To protect the
continuity of its operations, on December 19, 2001, Acindar
announced that it had discontinued payments of interest and
principal on certain of its financial debt.

Nevertheless, not even payments suspension stopped with the
continuous deterioration of the Company's cash flow which
resulted in delays in payments to suppliers and employees,
worsening furthermore the Company's financial situation.

Due to a better stock management, the postponing of capital and
maintenance expenditures and the support of Company's employees
and suppliers, the Company could stabilized the tough situation
of the first quarter.

Even though depreciation of the argentine peso negatively
affected domestic economy, it improved the profitability of
external market driving a gradual improvement in the cash flow of
the Company.

During the first quarter of the year the Company obtained export
advances in sales to Brazil, which allowed to rebuild Company's
working capital. Domestic demand stopped decreasing and higher
exports helped a gradual improvement in the production.

Higher sales allowed the Company to generate a positive cash flow
which was used to pay overdue salaries and payables and
rebuilding the cash flow position.

Once the situation was overcome, the Company called its financial
creditors who appointed a committee to negotiate the
restructuration of the Company's financial debt. Since last
August, meetings have been held aiming to set the legal and
financial conditions of the mentioned restructuration.

Although negotiations haven't conclude, the Board of Directors is
optimist in obtaining an agreement for the basic conditions of
this restructuration in the very short term, which may allow to
start with the processing and discussion of legal instruments.
The agreement between the Company and its creditors will clear
away a risk factor and the uncertainty of its operational
activity.

CONTACTS:  ACINDAR S.A.
           Jos‚ I. Giraudo
           Investor Relations Manager
           (54 11) 4719 8674

           Andrea Dala
           Investor Relations Officer
           (54 11) 4719 8672


ARGENTINE BANKS: Central Bank Clarifies Currency Control Statute
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Argentine Central Bank elaborated that the new measure
establishing a limit on the difference between assets and
liabilities in foreign currencies banks can hold was not aimed at
increasing the amount of foreign currency banks can hold.

The new measure, a Central Bank spokesperson told Dow Jones
Newswires, sets a limit on the difference between the assets and
liabilities in foreign currency of up to 30 percent of a
financial institution's net worth.

The banks said that the new requirement is aimed at defining
limits on the possibility of offering loans and deposits in
foreign currencies.

The new directive was announced on Friday, and will take effect
starting May 1.

Banks in the country are now allowed to hold foreign currencies
of only up to 10 percent of their net worth.


MOLINOS RIO: To Forego Dividend Payments
----------------------------------------
Molinos Rio de la Plata SA, a food producer in Argentina said
that it will not be paying any dividends for now, in its efforts
to improve cash flow. Dow Jones Newswires relates that the
Company claimed that the Argentine economy's 11 percent
contraction in 2002 greatly contributed to losses incurred in the
said year.

The Company, whose assets total ARS871.5 million as of the end of
last year, posted a 2002 net loss of ARS84.3 million. However,
the Company failed to submit figures for net earnings per share,
operating results, or comparative figures for 2001, nor gave a
separate 4Q02 report.

The currency depreciation was one of the factors affecting the
Company's performance. Last year, the Argentine peso declined by
about 70 percent of its value to the U.S. dollar. The Company
said that the devaluation cost the Company some ARS69.6 million.

But the results would have been worse had the Company's exports
not improved. Molinos reported that in November, more than half
of the Company's sales were from exports. This gives them more
Argentine pesos per U.S. dollar.

Molinos exports to about 40 countries worldwide, and is one of
Argentina's processed food companies.

The Company's shares were down 3.1 percent to ARS4.70 at 1810 GMT
Tuesday, albeit amid general falls among Argentine blue chips,
said Dow Jones.

CONTACT:  MOLINOS RIO DE LA PLATA SA
          99 Central Post Office (1000)
          3350 Osvaldo Cruz
          Buenos Aires
          Argentina
          Phone:  +54 11 4340 1100
          Home Page:  http://www.molinos.com.ar
          Contacts:
          J. Gregorio Perez Companc, Chairman
          Juan Manuel Forn, Vice Chairman


PEREZ COMPANC: Releases 4Q02 Results
------------------------------------
Perez Companc S.A. (Buenos Aires: PC NYSE: PC), controlling
shareholder with a 98.21% stake in Pecom EnergĦa S.A. (Buenos
Aires: PECO), announceb both companies' results for the fourth
quarter ended December 31, 2002.

- Perez Companc S.A. (whose only asset is its equity interest in
Pecom EnergĦa S.A.) posted a loss of P$108 million (P$0.051 per
share and P$0.51 per ADS) for the fourth quarter of 2002. In
fiscal year 2002 Perez Companc S.A. recorded a P$ 1,192 million
loss (P$0.559 per share and P$5.59 per ADS).

- Pecom EnergĦa S.A. posted a loss of P$105 million in the fourth
quarter of 2002. For the twelve-month fiscal year ended December
31, 2002, Pecom EnergĦa S.A. recorded a loss of P$1,193 million.

- Pecom EnergĦa S.A.'s P$105 million loss for 2002 quarter was
mainly attributable to non-operating losses in the amount of
P$211 million. Such loss mainly results from:

- Reduction in book value of Citelec S.A. (Controlling company of
Transener S.A) in the amount of P$58 million, in the light of the
uncertainties posed by the current renegotiation process of
utility companies' rates.

- A P$34 million loss resulting from the sale of the Forestry
business.

- A P$26 million provision on the accounting value of loans
granted to members of Venezuelan joint ventures was set up.

- Due to the deterioration in real terms of domestic prices of
gas and energy produced, Pecom EnergĦa adjusted the book value of
Argentine gas areas and its equity interest in Hidroneuqu‚n to
their recoverable value, accounting for P$44 million and P$10
million losses, respectively.

- Accelerated repayment of refinanced debt issue cost in the
amount of P$12 million.

- Pecom EnergĦa's net sales increased to P$1,124 million or 28.8%
in 2002 fourth quarter from P$873 million in 2001 quarter. Sales
for 2002 fiscal year totaled P$4,521 million.

- Pecom EnergĦa S.A.'s gross profit increased to P$414 million or
64.3% in 2002 quarter from P$252 million in 2001 quarter. Gross
profit for 2002 fiscal year totaled P$1,699 million.

- Pecom EnergĦa S.A.'s operating income for 2002 quarter
increased to P$269 million or 40.8% compared to 2001 quarter.
Operating income for 2002 fiscal year was P$1,300 million.

Net Sales

In 2002 quarter, net sales increased to P$1,124 million or 28.8%,
primarily due to the significant rise in the price of the main
commodities. In the prevailing inflationary scenario, the price
of the main products significantly increased in real terms on the
basis of a dollar-denominated contribution from foreign
operations and the alignment of domestic prices with export
reference prices. In such respect, in 2002 quarter the price of
crude oil, styrene and polystyrene increased 103.5%, 98.6% and
61.6%, respectively. During 2002 quarter, through the
implementation of an active export-directed trade policy, the
reduced Argentine domestic market demand was successfully offset.
In 2002 quarter, sales for the Oil and Gas Exploration and
Production business segment increased P$199 million before
eliminations for sales among the different businesses and sales
for the Petrochemicals and Refining business segments increased
P$117 million and P$141 million, respectively. In contrast, sales
revenues from the Electricity segment decreased P$61 million.

Gross Profit

Gross profit increased to P$414 million or 64.3%, mainly as a
result of the increase in the Oil and Gas Exploration and
Production business segment (P$120 million), in the
Petrochemicals business segment (P$50 million) and in the
Refining business segment (P$16 million), attributable to
increased marketing margins in terms of pesos as a result of the
peso devaluation.

Other Income, net

In 2002 quarter, the P$211 million loss was mainly attributable
to:

- Reduction in value of interest in Citelec S.A. in the amount of
P$58 million, reflecting the reduced book value of the same.

- A P$34 million loss for the sale of the Forestry business.

- A P$26 million provision on the accounting value of loans
granted to members of Venezuelan joint ventures was set up.

- Reduction in value of gas areas in Argentina in the amount of
P$44 million.

- Accelerated repayment of refinanced debt issue cost in the
amount of P$12 million.

- Tax on banking transactions in the amount of P$11 million.

- Reduction in value of interest in Hidroneuqu‚n S.A. in the
amount of P$10 million, reflecting the reduced book value of the
same.

- P$9 million loss for contingencies related to the Heavy Crude
Oil Pipeline (OCP) contractual commitments in connection with the
future production of Block 31, in Ecuador, derived from delays in
the area development plan on account of a global reduction in the
Company's development plan.

In 2001 quarter, such loss was mainly attributable to charging to
income the acquisition value in excess of Compa¤Ħa de Inversiones
de EnergĦa S.A. in the amount of P$201 million.

Equity in non-operating earnings of affiliates

Equity in non-operating earnings of affiliates accounted for a
P$17 million gain in 2002 quarter, which includes equity in
operating earnings of TGS and Citelec in the amount of P$7
million and P$3 million, respectively. Excluding such effect,
equity in non-operating earnings of affiliates accounted for a
P$7 million gain, determined by exchange differences on the
significant net borrowing monetary positions of such companies,
which differences were positive in 2002 quarter due to the
exchange rate appreciation, the significance of which offset the
impact of related financial costs. In 2001 quarter, equity in
non-operating earnings of affiliates recorded a P$81 million
loss, determined by the impact of the respective financial
liabilities and income tax.

Financial income (expense) and holding gains (losses)

Financial income (expense) and holding gains (losses) increased
P$81 million, accounting for a P$210 million loss, primarily
attributable to:

- A P$240 million loss as a result of conversion and translation.

- P$146 million for net interest.

- A P$68 million loss for exposure to inflation generated by the
effect of wholesale price deflation on the significant borrowing
monetary position.

- On account of the declaration of default by the Argentine
Government on most of the sovereign debt, Pecom EnergĦa has
prudently set up a provision for the reduction in value of the
technical value of Argentine Republic Foreign Notes (Letras
Externas de la Rep£blica Argentina) in U.S. dollars accounting
for a P$30 million loss.

- This loss is offset by a P$307 million gain resulting from
exchange differences derived from the peso revaluation on the
foreign currency net borrowing position.

During the last 12 months, total assets increased P$143 million
or 1.1%. Total assets as of December 31, 2002 comprise fixed
assets (64.6%) and equity interest in companies (13.2%).

Total liabilities increased P$1,344 million. Liabilities as of
December 31, 2002 amount to P$8,670 million, 84% of which are
financial liabilities.

Financial debt as of December 31, 2002 totaled US$2,155 million
compared to US$2,656 million as of December 31, 2001.
Operating Income by Business Segment

Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
- Net sales for 2002 quarter increased to P$639 million or 45.2%,
mainly due to the Argentine peso devaluation and higher oil sales
international prices. Oil and gas sales volumes dropped to 150.2
thousand boe/d or 18.8% in 2002 quarter. Oil sales volumes
decreased to 104.3 thousand bbl/d or 18%. Gas sales volumes
dropped to 275.6 million cubic feet per day or 20.4 % in 2002.

- In Argentina, oil sales increased to P$332 million or 58.1%.
Such improvement results from a 82.1% increase in sales prices,
partially offset by a 13.3% decrease in sales volumes that
totaled 54.9 thousand bbl/d. Such drop mainly results from
increase in stocks (marketed during IQ03) and the production
reduction in the Santa Cruz I and Santa Cruz II areas
attributable to the natural fields decline.
As regards the increase in the price per oil barrel, by taking
export parity as a reference, the strong peso devaluation could
be passed through reflecting the recovery of domestic market
prices that had started in 2002 second quarter. Tax on exports
accounted for a P$31 million lower revenue in 2002 quarter.
Natural gas sales revenues declined to P$30 million or 45.5%.
Daily sales volumes of gas declined 22.5% to 210.4 million cubic
feet per day, mainly due to the low demand of natural gas and, to
a lesser extent, the decrease in production volumes as a result
of the lack of investments in gas exploitation on account of the
current low price levels. Sales prices declined 29.7% to P$1.56
per thousand cubic feet in line with the Public Emergency Law
provisions which limit the possibility of increasing the price of
gas sold in the domestic market, in connection with sales
agreements entered into with utilities. The Company renegotiated
the terms and conditions of other gas sales contracts, especially
those executed with exporting clients, adjusting the price of
such contracts to the new economic environment.

- Combined sales of oil and gas outside of Argentina increased to
P$278 million in 2002 quarter or 54.4%. Total sales volumes of
oil and gas declined to 60.2 thousand boe/d or 21.2%. Oil and gas
sales in Venezuela increased to P$142 million or 22% in 2002
quarter. During the 2002 quarter, a provision was set up for the
increase in the rate of royalties in connection with the third
round agreements resulting from disputes related to the new
Hydrocarbons Law. Such royalties increased from 16.7% to 30%,
awaiting closing of negotiations with PDVSA. The average price
per barrel of oil equivalent of Venezuelan total production
increased to P$44 or 84.9%. Daily sales volumes of oil equivalent
decreased to 38.0 thousand boe/d or 31.7%, mainly due to reduced
production deliveries on account of PDVSA strike and the natural
field decline resulting from reduced investments. In Ecuador,
during the period under review the Company obtained approval of
Palo Azul field development plan, corresponding to Block 18.
Therefore, the field began production activities and recorded
sales amounting to 2.2 thousand bbl/d accounting for P$15
million.

- Gross profit for this business segment increased 84.5% to P$262
million in 2002 quarter. Gross margin increased to 41% in 2002
quarter from 32.3% in 2001 quarter mainly as a consequence of an
increase in international sales prices and the peso devaluation,
partially offset by increased royalties in Venezuelan third round
areas and the tax on crude oil exports imposed in Argentina.

- The ratio of administrative and selling expenses to sales was
10% for 2002 and 2001 quarters.

- Exploration expenses increased P$5 million in 2002 quarter
mainly attributable to charges in connection with wells in the
Santa Cruz II area and in the Peruvian exploratory Lot 35.

- Equity in earnings of affiliates increased P$7 million in 2002
quarter as a result of equity in earnings of Petrolera Perez
Companc.

Oil and Gas Reserves

As of December 31, 2002, liquid hydrocarbon and natural gas
proved reserves, audited by Gaffney, Cline & Associates Inc.,
amounted to 812.9 million barrels of oil equivalent (593.9
million barrels of oil and 1,313.2 billion cubic feet),
accounting for a 19.5% decline compared to the reserves certified
as of December 31, 2001 (19.6% for liquid hydrocarbons and 19.2%
for natural gas). Excluding the effect of 2002 production, such
ratio drops to 13.5%.

Fifty five per cent (55%) out of the total proved reserves are
located abroad.

The decline in reserves is primarily related to the crisis
prevailing in Argentina early in 2002 and to the complete loss of
foreign financing, before and subsequent to the crisis, both for
the Country and for companies located in Argentina. As a result
of such loss of financing the Company was managed exclusively
through its own cash generation and this led to significant cuts
in the investment plan implemented in 2002. In addition, the
changes in the Argentine economic scenario, specially the
pesification of utility rates, adversely affected the price of
gas in Argentina.

In spite of reduced investments during 2002 fiscal year,
discoveries and expansions resulted in the addition of 33 million
barrels of oil equivalent to proved reserves. Including recovery
improvements amounting to 20 million barrels of oil equivalent,
53 million barrels of oil equivalent were added to proved
reserves, accounting for 87% of production for the year.

On account of the significant negative factors mentioned above,
previous estimates were revised resulting in a 190 million barrel
of oil equivalent drop in reserves.

Before computing production for the year 2002 amounting to 61
million barrels of oil equivalent, a 137 million barrel drop was
recorded, net of additions and revisions of proved reserves.

The Company believes that if previous investment levels are
recovered and the Argentine economic situation improves allowing
for a gradual recovery of gas prices in Argentina, approximately
50% of the reduced volumes subject to revision of previous
estimates would be added to reserves again.

As of December 2002, at 2002 oil and gas production levels, total
proved reserves account for a 13.2-year horizon.

Hedge of Produced Crude Oil Price

The Company, as a crude oil producer, is exposed to the related
price-fluctuation risk. Therefore, the Company uses various
derivative instruments to mitigate such risk. These instruments
are based on West Texas Intermediate (WTI) as reference price,
which is used mainly to determine the sales price in the market.
Income (loss) generated by such instruments, used to hedge crude
oil price, are deferred until the related foreseen transaction is
recognized and are recorded in the income statement as an
integral part of hedged sales.

As of December 31, the Company's oil hedge policy for the year
2003 is based on option agreements that provide a flexible
structure. For WTI prices below 20 US$/bbl, the hedging price is
19.52 US$/bbl and the hedging volume amounts to 17,500 bbl/d. For
WTI prices equal to or above 20 US$/bbl and below 21 US$/bbl, the
hedging price is 19.44 US$/bbl and the hedging volume falls to
15,000 bbl/d. For WTI prices equal to or above 21 US$/bbl and
below or equal to 27 US$/bbl, the hedging price is 18.65 US$/bbl
and the hedging volume falls to 10,000 bbl/d. For WTI prices
above 27 US$/bbl, the hedging volume is 17,500 bbl/d and the
hedging price is 22.31 US$/bbl. Premiums paid were distributed
among reported hedging prices. In addition to the above price
hedging, during 2002 the Company closed out positions for a total
of 67,500 bbl/d, which volume will be sold at market price at a
1.42 US$/bbl discount. In such respect, the Company paid an
aggregate amount of P$115 million, accounting for a deferred loss
to be recorded as reduced sales in 2003.

For the January 2004-December 2005 period, the Company carries
sold options for a volume of about 18.3 million barrels (an
average of 25.000 bbl/d) at an average exercise price of 19.87
US$/bbl.

After fiscal year closing, in January 2003, the Company executed
crude oil hedging transactions for the second semester of 2003
for a volume of 30,300 bbl/d. Such hedging provides protection
based on the WTI actual price establishing a minimum price of
22.87 US$/bbl. Premiums paid for such transaction totaled US$ 8.5
million.

Refining

- Operating income for 2002 quarter increased P$26 million to
P$31 million, mainly due to the actions implemented to protect
business margins which dropped as a consequence of the shrinkage
in domestic demand in addition to the actions taken by the
Argentine Government to prevent a price increase and ensure fuel
supply. The significant export volumes in addition to the rise in
prices which recorded a variation exceeding in average the
inflation variation, boosted by the increase in input
international prices, allowed for this recovery during the last
quarter of the year. In 2002 quarter crude oil volumes processed
increased 17% to an average of 26,078 barrels per day.

- Net sales of refinery products increased 71.8% to P$280 million
in 2002 quarter boosted by increased local prices and export
volumes. Total sales volumes increased 11.4% in 2002 quarter,
mainly due to a significant 368% increase in exports, partially
offset by reduced local sales (35%) on account of the domestic
market shrinkage and lack of profitability. Sales volumes of
paraffinic and heavy products and aromatics sales volumes
increased 68%, 62% and 51%, respectively. Conversely, a 10% drop
was recorded in gasoline and diesel oil sales volumes basically
on account of a domestic market shrinkage while a 6% drop was
recorded in asphalt sales volumes as a result of the interruption
of most works in progress. In order to mitigate the shrinkage in
the domestic market and low prices of diesel oil used for
transportation, the trade policy was directed to local sales of
products with higher margins and to export markets. Along these
lines, a significant increase was recorded in export volumes of
diesel oil (705%) mainly to Paraguay, paraffins (422%) to
bordering countries, aromatics (414%) to bordering countries,
heavy products (231%) to the USA and bordering countries and
asphalt products (387%) to Bolivia and Paraguay.

- Gross profit increased 69.6% amounting to P$39 million. Gross
margin on sales was l4% in 2002 and 2001 quarters. Express
initiatives of the Argentine Government and the drop in the
activity level could curb the passing through of the increase in
crude oil costs to sales prices. In 2002 quarter, the average
price of crude oil increased 86.4% to P$82/bbl, compared to
P$44/bbl in the same period of previous year, reflecting the
impact of devaluation and the rise in the international reference
price which increased 38.9% to 28,2US$/bbl. As a consequence of
the behavior of crude oil costs and other products international
prices, sales prices increased 57% in average. Sales prices
increased as follows: diesel oil 55%, gasoline 38%, benzene 139%,
heavy products 98%, aromatics 60%, paraffins 103%, middle
distillates 67% and asphalts 44%.

- Equity in operating earnings of affiliates increased P$5
million to P$11 million due to:

- Equity in earnings of RefinerĦa del Norte increased to P$8
million in 2002 quarter from P$5 million in 2001, mainly due to a
rise in export prices (137%) and in local prices (LPG 23% and
fuels 38%) boosted by increased input costs and increased sales
volumes.

- Equity in earnings of EBR increased P$3 millions in 2002
quarter from P$1 million in 2001 quarter mainly due to an
increase in equity in earnings and the impact of the peso
devaluation.

- Other operating income recorded P$7 million losses in both
quarters, attributable to charges for the proportion of fixed
costs related to the idle capacity of the refinery imposed by the
optimization policy regarding crude oil volumes processed.

Petrochemicals

- Operating income for the Petrochemicals business segment
increased P$45 million to P$63 million in 2002 quarter. The
implementation of an active trade policy aimed at protecting
business margins by means of the consolidation of foreign markets
thus allowing to overcome the restrictions imposed by the
domestic demand affected by low consumption levels in the
styrenics business, and the consolidation as the country's
leading producer of liquid fertilizers and the concentration on
own production products with better margins to the detriment of
fertilizers commodity resales, capitalized, in the period under
review, the combined effect of the Argentine peso devaluation and
the increase in international prices.

- Sales of styrenics in Argentina increased 96.7% to P$118
million. In 2002 quarter styrene and polystyrene prices
significantly rose, 98.5% and 72.4%, respectively, as a
consequence of the combined effect of the Argentine peso
devaluation and a rise in international reference prices (52% and
46%, respectively). The average price of rubber increased 49.7%.
Sales volumes of styrenics increased 12.2% in 2002 quarter
boosted by increased exports (40.6%) offset by a 4% drop in local
sales. Styrene export volumes to bordering countries, specially
Brazil, increased 154%, and polystyrene export volumes to Europe
and Chile increased 24%. In addition, local sales during 2002
quarter dropped 3% and 2%, respectively. Total volume of rubber
increased 27.3%. SBR export volumes (67.2% on total sales)
increased 55% mainly to Brazil, Chile and Peru, thus setting a
historical record. Fertilizers sales increased 28.8% to P$85
million, mainly boosted by price increases on account of the
passing through of higher costs due to the Argentine peso
devaluation. Sales volumes increased 8% in 2002 quarter. Innova
sales in Brazil for 2002 quarter increased 82.7% to P$137
million. Styrene and polystyrene sales prices rose 110% and 53%,
respectively, as a result of the Argentine peso devaluation in
addition to improved international prices. Styrene sales volumes
in the Brazilian market increased about 27%, as a result of the
development of new customers. Polystyrene sales volumes dropped
3.4% to 28 thousand tons, due to reduced local sales partially
offset by increased export volumes (165%), amounting to 5
thousand tons, mainly to the USA, South Africa and Ecuador.

- Gross profit rose 122% to P$91 million in 2002 quarter. Gross
margin on sales increased to 26.5% in 2002 quarter from 20.2% in
2001 quarter. The styrenics business both in Argentina and Brazil
was favorably affected by increased international margins
compared to previous year.

- Equity in operating earnings of affiliates was attributable to
equity in earnings of PetroquĦmica Cuyo of P$3 million in 2002
quarter and P$1 million in 2001 quarter. This improvement
primarily results from increased polypropylene marketing margins
and from a change in the mix of local and export sales since
exports increased to 57% and 43% on sales in 2002 quarter from
70% and 30%, respectively, in 2001 quarter. Total sales volumes
were 19% higher compared to same period of previous year.

Hydrocarbon Marketing and Transportation

- Net sales in 2002 quarter dropped P$16 million to P$4 million
mainly due to the reformulation of the liquid processing
business. Oil, gas and LPG brokerage operations decreased to P$4
million in 2002 quarter from P$6 million in 2001 quarter mainly
due to conversion into pesos of gas operations and a drop in oil
operations volumes, partially offset by improved prices since it
is a commodity marketed in dollars. In addition, 2001 quarter
includes a P$14 million income from gas processing activities (a
total volume of 38,000 tons). As from the first quarter of 2002,
liquid processing activities are developed by the Oil and Gas
Exploration and Production business unit.

- Equity in operating earnings of affiliates dropped P$36 million
to P$3 million, due to the following:

- Income from direct and indirect interest in CIESA and TGS
recorded a P$35 million gain in 2001 quarter while no operating
results were reported in 2002 quarter.

- Equity in earnings of Oldelval decreased to P$3 million in 2002
quarter from P$4 million in 2001 quarter, mainly due to the
combined effect of a reduction in volumes transported and reduced
prices in constant currency. As from June 2002 Oldelval
renegotiated transportation agreements with oil producers with a
partial recognition of the peso devaluation effects and a partial
recovery of prices in constant currency.

Electricity

- Net sales of electricity generation decreased to P$40 million
or 48.1% in 2002 quarter. Net sales attributable to the Genelba
Power Plant dropped to P$31 million or 38% from P$50 million in
2001 quarter, due to the effects of conversion into pesos that
reduced to P$30.1 per MWh or 36.1% in constant pesos the average
price of energy and power delivered in 2002 quarter from P$47.1
per MWh. in 2001 quarter. Due to the high water supply in the
Comahue region and in Salto Grande, in both quarters the power
plant did not deliver energy during significant periods of time
which periods were longer during 2002 quarter. Although the
demand for energy increased 1%, the higher water supply covered
67% of such demand, and the thermal generation share dropped from
43% in 2001 quarter to 24% in 2002 quarter. In spite of that, the
Power Plant maintained a similar level of energy deliveries as a
result of Genelba improved costs with respect to its competitors
and the new regulations allowing for the fixing of prices per
equipment. Therefore, in 2002 quarter, the energy delivered only
dropped 5.1% to 1,016 GWh, due to a drop in the plant factor to
53.9% from 64.1%. In both quarters, the Power Plant availability
factor was approximately 98%.

Net sales attributable to the Pichi Pic£n Leuf£ Complex dropped
to P$8 million or 20% in 2002 quarter from P$10 million in 2001
quarter due to lower prices partially offset by an increase in
energy generation levels to 535 GWh in 2002 quarter from 265 GWh
in 2001 quarter. Improved volumes during 2002 quarter were
determined by the weather conditions during such period, with an
average water supply exceeding historical averages. Average
prices of energy in constant pesos dropped to P$14.9 per MWh in
2002 quarter from P$37.9 per MWh in 2001 quarter, due to the
pesification of rates and the application of local prices on
account of restrictions on the transportation capacity through
the national grid during 2002 quarter. In both periods, P$1
million and P$17 million accruals were recorded, respectively, on
account of the application of the Energy Support Price Method.

- Gross profit for the generation business dropped to P$17
million or 47% in 2002 quarter from P$32 million in 2001 quarter,
mainly affected by the distortions caused by pesification within
an inflationary context and a partially dollarized cost
structure. Gross margin for the generation business was 42.5% in
2002 quarter and 41.6% in 2001 quarter.

- Equity in operating earnings of affiliates recorded a P$6
million loss in 2002 quarter and a P$41 million gain in 2001
quarter mainly due to the following:

- Equity in earnings of Distrilec Inversora accounted for an P$8
million loss in 2002 quarter compared to a P$24 million gain in
2001 quarter. The negative results for 2002 quarter were
attributable to devaluation and pesification which generated a
major asymmetry between Edesur's income and operating costs and
expenses. It is worth noting that the rate freeze resulted in a
drop in sales revenues of about 50% in real terms, to P$221
million in 2002 quarter from P$447 million in 2001 quarter, while
in terms of costs and expenses the effect derived from the peso
devaluation was approximately 30% due to the impact of
depreciations which remained unchanged in constant currency, and
to increased costs of equipment and material that followed the
dollar evolution.

- Equity in earnings of Citelec accounted for a P$13 million gain
during 2001 quarter while no operating results were reported
during 2002 quarter.

- As regards other operating income, income from advisory
services provided to Edesur's technical operator were negatively
affected by the strong drop in operating margins (P$4 million and
P$13 million in 2002 and 2001 quarters, respectively).

Other Investments

- The Other Investments business unit recorded a P$2 million
operating loss in 2002 quarter and a P$4 million gain in 2001
quarter, mainly due to divestments in Pecom Agra, Pecom
Agropecuaria, Pecom Forestal and Cerro Vanguardia. Such effect
was partially offset by the advantage obtained in the forestry
business since a part of its production was marketed in dollars
in foreign markets.

- Income from the farming business for 2002 quarter increased to
P$13 million from P$10 million in 2001 quarter, due to the
combined effect of a 4% rise in sales volumes and increased
exports. Export volumes rose from 39% to 54% on sales, derived
from an improvement in international competitiveness as a result
of the peso devaluation. Income from the farming business for
2001 quarter totaled P$20 million, attributable to equity in
earnings of Pecom Agropecuaria. Equity interest in such company
was transferred to Argentina Farmland Investors LLC in 2002 third
quarter. The P$4 million gain recorded in equity in earnings of
affiliates in 2001 quarter is attributable to equity in earnings
of Pecom Agra. Equity interest in such company was transferred in
March 2002 under an asset swap with IRHE (Argentine Branch) and
GENTISUR S.A.

- As regards mining operations, equity in operating earnings of
affiliates recorded a P$11 million gain in 2001 quarter
attributable to the equity in earnings of Cerro Vanguardia.
Equity interest in such company was sold in July 2002 to the
Anglogold group.

Perez Companc S.A., is a leading company in an important sector
of the Argentine and Latin American industry, including oil and
gas production and transportation, refining and petrochemicals,
electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

To see financial statements:
http://bankrupt.com/misc/Perez_Companc.htm

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
          Home Page: http://www.pecom.com.ar/
          Contacts:
          Jorge Gregorio C. Perez Companc, Chairman
          Oscar Anibal Vicente, Vice Chairman


TRANSENER: Registers $172M Consolidated Net Loss For 2002
---------------------------------------------------------
Argentine transmission company Transener reported a consolidated
net loss of ARS542 million (US$172mn) for 2002, Business News
Americas reports, citing a company statement to the Buenos Aires
stock market.

According to the statement, the Company attributed the loss to
exchange rate losses, interest payments on foreign currency debt
and exposure to inflation.

Compared to constant peso values of December 31, 2002, profits in
2001 were ARS71 million.

Exchange rate differences on liabilities accounted for losses of
ARS398 million; interest payments on foreign currency debt
incurred ARS147- million losses; and inflation exposure led to
further losses of ARS49.6 million.

Transener also saw its net sales drop 35.7% to ARS284.1 million,
while operating costs fell 14.2% year-on-year to ARS216 million.
Operating profit in 2002 was 64.2% down on 2001 at ARS68.2
million.

The utility defaulted on capital and interest payments in April
2002, and "continues working toward the goal of evaluating debt
restructuring and is maintaining fluid talks with its creditors,"
the statement said.

"The evolution of talks over public services rates and
Argentina's macroeconomic conditions will be of vital importance
to the completion of our plan," it continued.

Transener, which is owned by Pecom Energia and the UK's National
Grid, owns the concession to operate the extra high voltage
electricity transmission network in the Argentine Republic. Since
its creation in 1993, the Company has remained a leader in the
field.

CONTACT:  COMPANIA DE TRANSPORTE DE ENERGIA ELECTRICA EN ALTA
          TENSION (Transener S.A.)
          Av. Paseo Colon 728, 6"Piso - (1063)
          Buenos Aires, Argentina
          Tel. (5411) 4342-6925

          Business Development:
          Carlos A. Jeifetz (jeifecar@transx.com.ar)
          Gerardo Baseotto (baseoger@transx.com.ar)
          Tel.: (54-11) 4334-0182 / 4342-6925
          Fax: (54-11) 4342-4861



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

GLOBAL CROSSING: Investigation Negates Malpractice Allegations
--------------------------------------------------------------
An internal investigation at Global Crossing, Ltd. cleared the
names of the Company's senior managers accused of falsifying
network capacity transactions to boost sales and stock prices,
the Associated Press reports.

The report cites a statement released on Monday, saying, "Neither
the company's management nor its professional advisors addressed
the inherent dangers of such reliance on a timely basis or
undertook remedial action until it was too late to do so in the
face of an industrywide economic collapse."

Three directors, who were appointed to the post last April,
conducted the investigation, and found that the Company's
directors and managers relied heavily on capacity swaps with
other companies during 200 and 2001, without questioning the
propriety of the transactions.

The investigation was triggered by the Company's former vice
president of finance, Roy Olofson, who alleged in August that the
capacity swaps were intended to inflate earnings. Mr. Olofson was
fired in November, said the report.

In the meantime, the Securities and Exchange Commission is having
its own investigation in the transactions.

Global Crossing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on
January 28 last year, and is presently waiting for approval to
emerge from the proceedings.

CONTACT:  GLOBAL CROSSING
          Press Contacts
          Kendra Langlie
          Phone: + 1 305-808-5912
          E-mail: kendra.langlie@globalcrossing.com

          Analysts/Investors Contact
          Ken Simril
          Phone: +1 310-385-3838
          E-mail: investors@globalcrossing.com


GLOBAL CROSSING: Sale To Asian Companies Gets Creditors' Support
----------------------------------------------------------------
Creditors of bankrupt telecommunications company Global Crossing,
Ltd. expressed their support for the proposed sale of 65 percent
of the Company to Hutchison Telecommunications, and Singapore
Technologies Telemedia, reports Reuters. The US$250 million offer
from the two Asian companies gives the creditors the best deal to
recover some of their losses.

The creditors further said that the American company, IDT
Corporation's offer is unacceptable.

Hutchison's purchase of the Bermuda-based company faced some
opposition, as Hutchison's owner is reputed to have connections
with the Chinese government. The deal has obtained the approval
of the bankruptcy court, though the Committee on Foreign
Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is yet to approve it.

The creditors' committee said it is hopeful the deal will be
approved and that it will do its best to ensure that the review
process runs its course without interference.  IDT offered to pay
US$255 million, for the same amount of shares, but the offer will
not be considered until the Asian companies' bid is officially
rejected.

Sources close to the matter said that the CFIUS is only worried
about Hutchison's part of the deal, and not with Singapore
Technologies. The report said that it is now up to the three
companies' people to work out a restructuring of the deal that
earns the approval of the CFIUS.

One suggestion is that Hutchison retains ownership of Global
Crossing, but give up the right to have members of the board.

"The CFIUS process is highly confidential and therefore we cannot
comment. What we can confirm is that we continue to co-operate
with the U.S. government to address any concerns," said Steve
Lipin, a spokesman for Hutchison in the United States.



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

AES CORP: Prosecutors To Launch Probe Into BNDES Financing Deal
---------------------------------------------------------------
A 1998 financing contract in which U.S.-based power group AES
Corp. got a loan from Brazil's national development bank BNDES to
acquire power distributor Eletropaulo Metropolitana SA was
muddled with "illicit practices," according to reports by the
media.

To see if there's truth to the reports, the Rio de Janeiro's
State Prosecutor's office said it will lodge an investigation
into the case, reports Dow Jones.

BNDES and AES have been negotiating a way to settle the power
giant's US$1.2 billion debt following the latter's default on an
US$85 million payment last month.

Under the 1998 financing contract, AES could lose the concession
for some of its units here in case of default. The bank and the
executive branch of the Brazilian government are still working on
a solution for the case.

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

          AES Corp., Arlington
          Kenneth R. Woodcock, 703/522-1315
          Web site www.aes.com
          Investor relations: investing@aes.com


BRAZILIAN STEELMAKERS: Warn of Investment Freeze
------------------------------------------------
Brazilian steelmakers are threatening to withhold investments if
the government intervenes in the market, local reports suggest.

But Carlos Gastaldoni, the Development Ministry's secretary of
production downplayed the threat. Business News Americas quoted
the government official's statement. " If there is space,
naturally the steel sector will invest. If the sector does not
invest, someone will. If demand is growing and production isn't,
someone will take this market," he said.

"How are we going to decide about investments if the steel
consumer is requesting price controls? If I were the shareholder,
which I am not, I would say that I wouldn't invest, and prefer to
wait," said Jose Armando Figueiredo Campos, president of steel
sector association IBS.

He stressed that some steelmakers are even losing US$80 - US$100
per ton, from prioritizing the local market. He explained that
domestic steel prices follow international trends, as with any
other product that is exported.

Rony Stefano, a steel analyst for investment bank BBV, said that
any form of government intervention would result in the reduction
of steel supply in the local market. BNAmericas noted the
steelmakers in the country always ensured supply in the domestic
market.

"If the government decides to control domestic prices,
steelmakers will just export their production. If the government
decides to slap on an export tax, steelmakers will wage war and
cut production, said Mr. Stefano.

The analyst believes that the government will not take any
drastic measures against the steelmakers. He also discounted that
the viability of reducing import tariffs to zero, as the domestic
prices, will remain lower than foreign prices.

Mr. Campos, along with Gerdau president Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter
was set to meet government officials on Tuesday to explain the
increase in steel prices over the past year.


BSE: Fitch Affirms National Ratings, Revises Rating Watch
---------------------------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings has affirmed BSE S.A.'s (BSE) 'CC'(bra) rating and
has revised the Rating Watch to Positive from Negative. The
Rating Watch revision reflects Telecom Americas Ltd. (America
Movil S.A. subsidiary) intent to purchase a 95% stake in BSE and
an associated potential improvement in credit quality. The
enterprise value of BSE has been estimated at US$180 million.

America Movil has injected equity into Telecom Americas (its
Brazilian wireless pureplay) and during 2002, capitalized
approximately US$900 million of debt. Given the historical
support provided by America Movil to Telecom Americas, the BSE
acquisition is credit positive. Upon consummation of the
transaction, Telecom Americas' wireless units would cover
approximately 82% of the Brazilian population. The transaction is
expected to close during the second quarter of 2003, while
subject to various conditions.

The 'CC'(bra) rating reflects BSE's currently high debt leverage
and weak liquidity position amid an increasingly competitive
wireless telecom environment. Throughout 2002, financial
flexibility was limited by scarce availability of short-term
funding to Brazilian entities. Although BSE's EBITDA has improved
from BRL18 million in 2000 to BRL110 million in 2001, Fitch
expects intensified competition coupled with currently limited
financial flexibility to impact financial performance. Recently
lower monthly revenues, evident in late 4Q'02 and in early 1Q'03,
demonstrate the effects of heightened competition. However, the
potential operational and financial support provided by Telecom
Americas would significantly enhance BSE's competitive position.

At Sept. 30, 2002, BSE's debt levels reached approximately US$580
million. Fitch estimates that US$446 million (or 77%) represented
shareholder debt, with the vast majority maturing in 2006 and
2007. Excluding intercompany debt, 9M2002 Total Debt/EBITDA was
approximately 5.0 times (x). The ratio reached 21.0x on a gross
debt basis. At September 2002, BSE's US$134 million of third-
party debt (including a portion debentures held by third parties)
was entirely short-term. Separately, BSE recently renegotiated a
put option on its BRL220 million debentures. The negotiations
resulted in the Jan. 19, 2003 semiannual interest payment
allocated over three periods between 1/20/2002 - 3/21/2002.
Furthermore, a new put date was established for March 2003. Fitch
expects BSE's ability to meet their existing third-party debt
commits to substantially improve upon the closing of the
acquisition.

BSE is a wireless service provider with approximately one million
subscribers throughout Northeastern Brazil in the states of
Alagoas, Ceara, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Piaui and Rio Grande do
Norte. BSE's concession covers approximately 26.2 million POPS or
16.1% of the total Brazilian population. Currently, Bellsouth
Corp. and the Brazilian Safra group each hold a 45.9% voting
interest in BSE.

Telecom Americas is 96.5% held by America Movil. The Brazilian
wireless operators held by America Movil are ATL Algar Telecom
Leste S.A. (ATL), Americel S.A., Telet S.A. and Tess S.A. ATL
operates in Rio de Janeiro, Americel operates in central-western
Brazil; Telet operates in Rio Grande do Sul; and Tess operates in
the state of Sao Paulo (excluding the city of Sao Paulo). In
addition, America Movil purchased licenses for approximately
BRL429 million to operate in the city of Sao Paulo and the
Southern and Eastern States of Santa Catarina, Parana, Bahia and
Sergipe.


ENERSIS: Brazilian Project To Start Testing By May
--------------------------------------------------
Testing at the US$250-million, 310MW Fortaleza thermoelectric
project in the Brazilian state of Ceara, is expected to start by
May and operations by end-November this year.

According to Brazilian news service Ultimo Segundo, the project,
which is being developed by Endesa Spain and its Chilean holding
subsidiary Enersis, is now 77% completed.

Federal energy company Petrobras and Ceara state gas distributor
Cegas will supply gas to the project, while local distributor
Coelce - an Endesa subsidiary - will buy 100% of the power
generated.

Mitsui is the EPC contractor.

The project is part of the federal government's thermoelectric
priority plan.


MRS LOGISTICA: Fitch Changes Rating Outlook To Stable
-----------------------------------------------------
The outlook on the `B' foreign currency rating of Brazilian
railroad concessionaire MRS Logistica was revised to stable from
negative by credit rating agency Fitch, according to Business
News Americas.

The move came after Fitch revised the rating outlook on the
foreign currency rating of Brazil to stable from negative due to
a marked turnaround in international trade performance and signs
the new government is committed to economic policies that could
place Brazil's public and external finances on a sustainable
path.

MRS, which invested BRL12.8 million (some US$3.65mn) in 2002,
operates the 1,700km southeast rail network (Malha Sudeste) that
spans the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.


SANEPAR: Parana Governor Names New Board of Directors
-----------------------------------------------------
Brazil's Parana state governor Roberto Requiao officially took
over state water utility Sanepar Tuesday with the appointment of
the new board of directors, reports Business News Americas.

Requiao initially took over Sanepar from Domino Holding SA, a
conglomerate whose members include Vivendi Water, Andrade &
Gutierrez and Banco Opportunity, last month following complaints
about both poor water quality and under-investment.

Prior to the takeover, Domino held 39.7% of Sanepar shares, and
although the group owned the minority of shares, they were given
power to appoint government representatives and have a majority
on the board.

But now, Domino is restricted, allowed to own and represent 20%
of Sanepar shares and required to return all individual profits
received from the water utility. Domino can keep a seat on the
board, with Vivendi representative Pierre Yves-Mourgue named
operations director, the report reveals.

Requiao said Yves-Mourgue's appointment indicates that the state
government wants to keep in contact with the French company due
to its waterworks sector experience.

He added that the board's first task will be to void contracts
awarded to international companies under Sanepar's US$390 million
water and sewerage program Paranasan.

Last month, international ratings agency Moody's Investors
Service downgraded Sanepar's long-term debt and issuer ratings,
including the utility's national local scale rating to Baa3.br
from A3.br, and the global local currency scale rating to B1 from
Ba3, due to the decision. The outlook is negative.

According to Moody's, Requiao's decision will make Sanepar less
financially and operationally autonomous, which will limit its
capacity to secure financing.

Sanepar provides water and sewage service to more than 7.5
million residents, serving 96% of Parana municipalities under
long-term concession agreements.



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


ENERSIS: Strikes $2.3B Debt-Restructuring Deal With Banks
---------------------------------------------------------
Enersis, which wants to refinance its debt after being hit by
economic crises in Argentina and Brazil, announced Tuesday it
reached an agreement with four banks to refinance US$2.3 billion
of its debt, reports Reuters.

The deal with the banks - BBVA, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein,
Salomon Smith Barney and Santander Central Hispano - paves a way
for a syndication process for two loans totaling US$2.3 billion
and maturing in 2008.

Enersis' total debt is $7.4 billion, the report reveals.

The refinancing agreement includes Enersis debt of US$1.6 billion
and some US$700 million that corresponds to its generating unit
Endesa Chile.


ENERSIS: Moody's Cuts Senior Unsecured Debt Rating To Ba3
---------------------------------------------------------
Santiago-based Latin American energy holding Enersis SA had its
senior unsecured debt rating downgraded to Ba3 from Baa3 by
Moody's Investors Service. The outlook on the rating is stable.

Moody's downgraded Enersis' ratings to junk level as declining
currencies in the Latin America region reduced revenue, to the
detriment of its parent company Endesa.

Endesa, which owns 65% of Enersis, saw earnings fall following a
35% drop in Brazil's currency last year and a 70% drop in
Argentina's peso, causing revenue at the Latin American unit to
slump and led to the unit's biggest-ever loss in the fourth
quarter. A decline in revenue at Enersis has made it harder for
the company to make payments on US$8.9 billion of debt, analysts
said.

"The company's returns are weak and its debt levels are high,"
Moody's said in a statement.

Moody's also cited the refinancing needs of Enersis. The power
company last month said it will refinance US$2.3 billion of loan
owed to banks to gain time to trim its debts, in part by selling
energy companies in Chile.

As part of that refinancing, Enersis wants to eliminate a loan
term that would make the debt come due if the Company's rating
from Standard & Poor's fell below investment grade, analysts
said. Enersis had its long-term corporate credit and debt ratings
lowered by S&P last month to BBB- from BBB. The new rating is one
level above junk.

CONTACT:  ENERSIS
          Investor Relations:
          Ricardo Alvial
          Chief Investments & Risks Officer of Enersis
          Email: ram@e.enersis.cl
          Phone: (562) 353-4682
          Contacts:
          Susana Rey, srm@e.enersis.cl
          Ximena Rivas, mxra@e.enersis.cl
          Pablo Lanyi-Grunfeldt, pll@e.enersis.cl


ENDESA CHILE: Moody's Downgrades Rating To Junk Level
-----------------------------------------------------
Concluding a review for possible downgrade, Moody's Investors
Service downgraded the debt ratings of Endesa Chile to Ba3 from
Baa3. The rating outlook is stable, which indicates that Moody's
is inclined to leave the rating unchanged.

Endesa Chile is 60% owned by Enersis, which in turn is 65% owned
by Spain's Endesa S.A.

The downgrade came simultaneous to the downgrade of Enersis' debt
ratings by Moody's.

Endesa Chile is an electric generation company primarily
comprised of hydro facilities.


INVERLINK: Scandal Won't Taint Chile's Financial System
-------------------------------------------------------
Analysts and executives from Chilean rating agencies said that
the intervention of local financial group Inverlink amid a
scandal involving its top executives should not dent the
reputation of the country's financial system.

Business News Americas recalls that Chile's securities and
insurance regulator, the SVS, intervened Inverlink's life
insurance subsidiary Le Mans Seguros de Vida on Friday because of
liquidity problems.

The regulator also suspended the group's stockbrokerage unit
Inverlink Corredores de Bolsa and ordered the immediate
liquidation of mutual funds administrated by Inverlink
Administradora General de Fondos.

According to Alejandro Sierra, CEO of Chilean rating agency
Humphreys, the Inverlink scandal is a "punctual event" that
should not have any significant impact on investor confidence.
Humphreys is an affiliate of international rating agency Moody's.

Rodrigo Salas, an insurance analyst from Fitch Ratings Chile,
agreed, saying that the Inverlink scandal should be seen as an
"isolated event" that will not bring any systemic risks.

The two analysts noted that the outcome of legal proceedings in
the case would produce additional information and facilitate a
more complete damage-control analysis.

The local financial system will probably have to review its
current control systems, Salas said, which apparently were not as
secure as one was lead to believe.

On a more positive note, Salas pointed out that the SVS had acted
in a prudent and timely manner to the almost daily revelations of
scandal and wrong doing that have appeared over the last couple
of weeks.


PEHUENCHE: Moody's Downgrades Debt Ratings To Ba3
-------------------------------------------------
Concluding a review for possible downgrade, Moody's Investors
Service downgraded the debt ratings of Pehuenche, a 400 MW hydro
facility in Chile, to Ba3 from Baa3. The rating outlook is
stable.

Pehuenche is 94% owned by Endesa Chile, which in turn is 60%
owned by Enersis.

The downgrade on Pehuenche's ratings came simultaneous to the
downgrade of Enersis' debt ratings by Moody's.


===============
C O L O M B I A
===============

CARBOCOL: Colombia To Begin Liquidation Process
------------------------------------------------
The Colombian government has decided to dissolve state coal
company Carbones de Colombia (Carbocol), reports Business News
Americas.

The decision was prompted by the reduction of the Company's
objectives and Carbocol's duplication of the functions of another
state entity Minercol. Minercol can cover Carbocol's
responsibilities.

Carbocol is still an industrial and commercial state enterprise
but the liquidation process prevents it from carrying out any new
commercial or operational activities. It may only use its legal
capacity for the liquidation.

In late 2000 the state transferred its interest in Carbocol over
to Cerrejon Zona Norte, which also took over the Company's
exploration, exploitation and processing role. Among its
contracts being transferred to the state are an agreement with
International Colombia Resources Corporation (Intercor) and the
exploitation contracts with Cerrejon and Cerrejon Zona Norte
mining companies.

In the next few days the state will appoint a liquidator, who
will have a month to present to the securities regulator a
detailed inventory of the assets and liabilities of the company.
Proceeds from selling off assets and contracts will be used to
pay Carbocol's debts.


EMCALI: S&P Lowers Ratings to 'D'
---------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered Tuesday its corporate
credit rating on Empresas Municipales de Cali (Emcali) to 'D'
from 'CCC' following Emcali's default on March 6, 2003, on
payments due to TermoEmcali I SCA ESP (TermoEmcali).

Emcali failed to make a US$4.25 million payment to TermoEmcali on
March 6, 2003, following the Resolution 562 issued on March 5,
2003, by the Colombian Public Services Agency--the Colombian
federal agent managing the administrative takeover of Emcali. The
Resolution 562 establishes that Emcali's liquidation effects
include that of suspending the payment of all obligations accrued
up to the issue date of the Resolution 562; i.e., stopping the
payments due through March 5, 2003, that Emcali owed to creditors
such as TermoEmcali.

The Colombian Public Services Agency first intervened in Emcali's
business reorganization on April 3, 2000. On Jan. 23, 2003,
Emcali's reorganization status changed when Resolution 141
established that the Colombian Public Services Agency was in the
process of liquidating the company due to Emcali's inability to
service its financial obligations.

Emcali is a diversified, municipally owned utility providing
electricity, water, sewage, and local landline telephone services
to the city of Cali, Colombia and to neighboring municipalities.

ANALYST: Donaji Valencia, Mexico City (52) 55-5279-2054


EMCALI: To Save $34M Annually On Suspension of Debt Payments
------------------------------------------------------------
Emcali is expected to increase this year's cash flow by COP100
billion (US$33.8mn), reports Business News Americas, citing a
forecast by a company executive.

Jos‚ Maldonado, Emcali's finance director, made the forecast
following last week's decision by Colombia's public services
regulator Superservicios to suspend Emcali's payments of
outstanding debts in an effort to protect the Company from
possible liquidation.

The order will remain in force until the middle of 2004,
Maldonado said.

Emcali currently generates only COP70 cash for every COP100 it
spends on providing power, water, and telecom services to city
residents Maldonado said, adding that the situation is
"financially unsustainable".


TERMOEMCALI: S&P Lowers Notes to 'CC'
-------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered Tuesday its rating on
TermoEmcali Funding Corp.'s US$165 million senior secured notes
to 'CC' from 'CCC', following default on March 6, 2003, by
Empresas Municipales de Cali's (Emcali) in the payment due to
TermoEmcali I SCA ESP (TermoEmcali). The outlook remains
negative.

Emcali failed to make a US$4.25 million payment to Termoemcali on
March 6, 2003, following the Resolution 562 issued on March 5,
2003, by the Colombian Public Services Agency--the Colombian
federal agent managing the administrative takeover of Emcali. The
Resolution 562 establishes that Emcali's liquidation effects
include that of suspending the payment of all obligations accrued
up to the issue date of the Resolution 562; i.e., stopping the
payments due through March 5, 2003, that Emcali owed to creditors
such as Termoemcali.

The Colombian Public Services Agency first intervened in Emcali's
business reorganization on April 3, 2000. On Jan. 23, 2003,
Emcali's reorganization status changed when Resolution 141
established that the Colombian Public Services Agency was in the
process of liquidating the company due to Emcali's inability to
service its financial obligations.

As the rating on TermoEmcali Funding Corp.'s US$165 million notes
is closely tied to Emcali's creditworthiness, in view of Emcali's
current liquidation procedures and particularly considering the
fact that off-taker Emcali defaulted on its financial
obligations, TermoEmcali's ability to repay the notes is much
more uncertain.

Standard & Poor's expects the continuing deterioration of
TermoEmcali's ability to repay its debt. The negative outlook
anticipates that TermoEmcali's rating could be further downgraded
if Emcali misses the next payment due on April 6, 2003.

ANALYST: Donaji Valencia, Mexico City (52) 55-5279-2054



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

ALESTRA: Billionaire Carlos Slim May Dictate Future
---------------------------------------------------
Carlos Slim, the billionaire owner of the country's biggest
telephone companies, Telmex and America Movil, could
theoretically make or break a bid by struggling long-distance and
data company Alestra to restore its financial health, Reuters
suggests.

Alestra has launched an exchange offer to its bondholders in an
effort to restructure its debt after defaulting last year. In the
prospectus for the exchange offer, Alestra revealed that parties
related to Slim's Telmex hold more than US$100 million of the
bonds on which Alestra wants to extend maturities, or more than
18% of the total.

Since Alestra will go through with the exchange only if 95% of
bondholders accept the offer, Slim will have a say in Alestra's
fate.

However, analysts don't see Slim getting in the way.

"I don't think it's likely that Telmex is going to want to have
the image of having contributed to deep-sixing its competitor,"
James Harper, who analyzes the debt of distressed Latin American
companies for BCP Securities, told Reuters.

But analysts said the "Slim factor," as well as Alestra's capital
spending plans, are huge question marks in the minds of
bondholders as they contemplate whether to accept the exchange
offer.

Alestra has offered to exchange 2008 notes with a 5 percent
coupon, which will become a 7 percent coupon after May 2006, for
its outstanding 2006 notes, which have a 12-1/8 percent coupon.

It is also offering to exchange 2011 notes with a 5 percent
coupon, which will later become an 8 percent coupon, for its 2009
notes that carry a 12-5/8 percent coupon.

The 2006 and 2009 notes both bottomed out at $27 per $100 face
value last August but have been trading in the low $40s since the
company put the exchange deal on the table.

Alestra's three shareholders -- AT&T, Mexico's Grupo Alfa
industrial company and BBVA Bancomer bank -- have pledged to
inject US$80 million into the Company if bondholders accept the
exchange offer.

CONTACT:  ALESTRA, S. DE R.L. DE C.V.
          Investor Relations:
          Alberto Guajardo
          Phone: (52-818) 625-2219
          E-mail: aguajard@alestra.com.mx


HYLSAMEX: To Boost Production At Galvak Under New Plan
------------------------------------------------------
Mexican steelmaker Hylsamex, the steel-making unit of industrial
conglomerate Alfa S.A., plans to boost production capacity at all
lines at its Galvak subsidiary, local paper El Norte quoted
company CEO Alejandro Elizondo Barragan as saying.

The Company will invest US$100 million in the plan, which will
run on for two years.

Hylsamex increased sales volumes 19% and exports 80% last year
compared to 2001, thereby boosting revenues 11% to MXN13.5
billion (some US$1.23bn at today's rate). At the same time, the
Company reduced its per-tonne variable costs by 11%, Barragan
told shareholders at the Monterrey-based firm's latest
shareholders meeting,

Hylsamex expects to continue improving results this year given
that world steel prices have recovered. He was previously quoted
as saying domestic demand for steel would grow 7% this year,
twice the forecast rate of economic expansion.

CONTACT:  HYLSAMEX
          Investor Relations
          Margarita Gutierrez
          E-Mail: mgutierrez@hylsamex.com.mx

          Ricardo Sada
          E-Mail: rsada@hylsamex.com.mx
          Phone: (52) 81 8865 1224
                 (52) 81 8865 1201
          Munich 101,
          San Nicolas de los Garza N.L., 66452
          Mexico


VITRO: Notifies of General Ordinary Shareholders Meeting
--------------------------------------------------------
In compliance with the agreement reached by the Board of
Directors of the company and according with the terms of Clauses
Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth and others
related of the Corporate By-Laws of the Company, first notice to
the General Ordinary Shareholders Meeting is hereby issued to the
Shareholders. The meeting will be held at the "Gran Salon" of the
"Club Industrial, A.C." located at "Ave. Parteaguas #698, Col.
Loma Larga," in "San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon" at 11:00
hrs. on the 27th day of March of the year 2003.

The meeting shall be executed under the following:

AGENDA

I. Discussion, approval or modification of the 2002 annual report
rendered by the Board of Directors, including the financial
statements for the year, taking into account the examiner's and
committees reports and in its case the adoption of measures as
may be deemed necessary.

II. Analysis and resolution of a project to apply the existing
amounts in the profit and loss account.

III. Analysis and resolution of a project for the payment of a
$0.36 pesos (THIRTY SIX CENTS MEXICAN CURRENCY.) dividend per
share.

IV. Analysis and resolution of the maximum amount that may be
assigned for the repurchase of Vitro's issued shares.

V. Election of directors and examiners for the year 2003
including the fees for their services.

VI. Appointment of special commissioners to appear before a
public notary to formalized the voted resolutions, register the
same before the registry of commerce and to carry out the
necessary procedures for the duly formalization of the same.

The shareholders are hereby reminded that in accordance with the
provision of article 129 of the "General Corporations Law" (Ley
General de Sociedades Mercantiles) and article 78 of the "Stock
Market Law of Mexico" (Ley del Mercado de Valores), in order to
attend to and participate in the Shareholders Meeting, the
Shareholders must be duly registered in the Company's
Shareholders Registry Books and deposit the pertaining shares
certificates either, in the office of the Secretary of the Board
or in any Credit Institution of Mexico or in "S.D. Indeval, S.A.
de C.V." Likewise, and in accordance with the foregoing
provision, the shares certificates deposited in the "S.D.
Indeval, S.A. de C.V., Instituto para el Deposito de Valores,"
the depositor shall provide to the office of the Secretary of the
Board, a list with the names, corporate names of the shareholders
and the amount of any share owned by every shareholder.

Likewise, and in accordance with the provisions of Article 27th
of the Fiscal Federal Code (Codigo Fiscal de la Federacion) the
Shareholders are hereby reminded that in order to register in
such Book the Shareholders must present their Mexican Tax ID
Number. To have access to this Meeting, the Shareholders or their
legal representatives must obtain from the office of the
secretary of the board directors of the Company, with at least 48
hours prior to the date of the Meeting, evidence of their
registration as Shareholders and the amount of represented
shares.

All documentation pertaining to each of the items in the Agenda
including the forms for any party or stockholder broker
interested in representing a shareholder at the Stockholders
Meeting will be available at the social domicile of the Company.

The office of the Secretary of the Company is located at Ave.
Ricardo Margain Zozaya 440, Col. Valle del Campestre in San Pedro
Garza Garcia, N.L., Mexico.

Vitro, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE: VTO; BMV: VITROA), through its
subsidiary companies, is one of the world's leading glass
producers. Vitro is a major participant in three principal
businesses: flat glass, glass containers, and glassware. Its
subsidiaries serve multiple product markets, including
construction and automotive glass; fiberglass; food and beverage,
wine, liquor, cosmetics and pharmaceutical glass containers;
glassware for commercial, industrial and retail uses; plastic and
aluminum containers. Vitro also produces raw materials, and
equipment and capital goods for industrial use. Founded in 1909
in Monterrey, Mexico-based Vitro has joint ventures with major
world-class partners and industry leaders that provide its
subsidiaries with access to international markets, distribution
channels and state-of-the-art technology. Vitro's subsidiaries
have facilities and distribution centers in seven countries,
located in North, Central and South America, and Europe, and
export to more than 70 countries worldwide. For further
information, please visit our website at:
http://www.vitro.com.



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

COPACO: Expects To Win Lawsuit Filed By Cateppar
------------------------------------------------
Paraguay's state-run fixed line operator Copaco is facing a
lawsuit lodged against it by public telephone chamber Cateppar.

According to a Business News Americas report, the lawsuit alleged
that the incumbent has been systematically cutting off lines
operated by public telephone operators.

In response, Copaco said the public telephony operators have run
up a PYG8.2-billion bill for the use of the lines.

Copaco also said it will spend PYG1.2 billion in lawyer's fees to
defend its case. But lawyer Hernan Casco boldly said that
Cateppar will end up paying his fees.

CONTACT:  COPACO S.A. (Ex. Antelco) - Paraguay
          Phone: 595-21-2192175
                 595-21-2192010
          Fax: 595-21-2192175
          E-mail: teleinfo@copaco.com.py


COPACO: Awaits Approval Of $10M Digitalization Investment
---------------------------------------------------------
Copaco plans to invest US$10 million in the digitalization of its
switching centers that serve 65 localities. According to Business
News Americas, the Company now awaits approval from the
government for the investment plan.

The Company expects to cover the bulk of the investment with its
own cash flow but will also seek a short-term loan, Copaco
chairman Juan Francisco Godoy said.

Copaco's implementation of a 100-day plan that calls for an
investment of some US$20 million for network maintenance,
expansion and digitalization, as well as a staff reduction
program has been hampered due to failure by the Paraguayan
Comptroller General's office to
sign necessary documentation.

"The company is in a state of total abandonment. Service could
collapse at any moment because of lack of maintenance," Carmelo
Rios, general secretary of the telecoms workers' union Sinattel,
said.



===========
P A N A M A
===========

BANCO GENERAL: S&P Affirms Ratings, Revises Outlook to Negative
---------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Monday that it revised
its outlook on the local and foreign currency ratings on Banco
General S.A. to negative from stable. At the same time, the
counterparty credit ratings of 'BBB-/A-3' assigned to the bank
were affirmed.

The ratings are underpinned by the bank's adequate financial
fundamentals. Even though during 2002, slow economic activity
resulted in slow banking activity, Banco General was able to
achieve $53 million in net income, above 2001 results. While
there is greater pressure on the performance of the loan
portfolio, asset quality indicators were satisfactory.

The outlook revision is prompted by a similar action taken on
Panama's sovereign ratings. "While Standard & Poor's does not
maintain an explicit sovereign ceiling on Panamanian entities,
given the benefits of the country's monetary system and policies,
we believe that there are greater pressures on the banking system
under the current economic scenario," said credit analyst
Angelica Bala. Loan portfolios are expected to continue to
deteriorate, credit demand will remain sluggish, and reduced
business prospects and asset quality pressures could hurt
profitability.

Lowering Panama's sovereign ratings could potentially translate
into a change in Banco General's ratings. Management's ability to
sustain results despite a bleaker environment is key to
determining the future of the bank's ratings.

ANALYSTS: Angelica Bala
          Mexico City
          Phone: (52) 55-5279-2005

          Ursula M Wilhelm
          Mexico City
          Phone: (52) 55-5279-2007



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

* Uruguay Seeks Debt Reschedule To Hold Off Default
----------------------------------------------------
Uruguay is offering credits a form of voluntary restructuring to
avoid a possible default on up to US$3 billion in debt. A report
by Bloomberg relates that the country seeks a rescheduling of the
bonds, with maturities of over a year.

Citigroup Inc.'s Salomon Smith Barney Inc. unit, will advise the
country on the planned bond exhange, which would be voluntary for
investors, according to government officials.

At a press conference, Uruguay Economy Minister Alejandro
Atchugarry said that the country has permission from the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission to exchange as much as US$3
billion in bonds with maturities of more than a year for new
securities, which will be in the same denomination as the old
ones.

Mr. Atchugarry added that a consultation process is being
started. Officials are planning to meet bondholders soon.

Analysts offered varying opinions on the situation. Jose
Barrionuevo, head of Latin America research for Barclays Capital
Inc. in New York, said that he is not expecting bondholders to
suffer losses in the exchange. The report quoted Mr. Barrionuevo
saying the government even may "provide some incentives for
investors to participate and improve the debt profile of
Uruguay's external and internal debt."

Julian Adams, from Aberdeen Asset Management, whose portfolio is
about 3 percent Uruguayan bonds, shares Mr. Barrionuevo's views.

"It would be a win-win situation," he said.

But Standard & Poor's sovereign analyst Lisa Schineller said,
"Uruguay may reschedule debt payments in such a way that
bondholders don't lose face value. But it isn't clear that will
solve the country's fiscal situation."

The country is struggling to fulfill its financial obligations
after its benchmark 7 percent bond due 2008 declined by about 50
percent after its neighbor, Argentina defaulted on a record US$95
billion of debt in December 2001.

Since Argentina's default, Uruguay's currency plunged by more
than 50 percent to about UYP28.5 per dollar, and its economy
contracted by about 10 percent.

Rating agencies S&P, and Moody's rated Uruguay, which has US$6.5
billion of debt outstanding, in the junk category, while services
at four of its banks had to be suspended.

Furthermore, the International Monetary Fins withheld a US$308
million disbursement to the country, as result of its failure to
close down the suspended banks.

Uruguay faces some US$1.6 billion of debt payments due this year.



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

PDVSA: Reports on El Palito Refinery Damages Contradictory
----------------------------------------------------------
Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. clarified that its El Palito
refinery's catalytic converter did not suffer damages in a
reported fire in the refinery.

Union official Diesvalo Espinoza said in an interview on
Globovision television that a fire damaged the refinery's
catalytic converter, Bloomberg relates.

The refinery's manager, Asdrubal Chavez said, "The processing of
130,000 barrels a day of oil won't be affected, nor will gasoline
production."

The state oil company explained that the gasoline making
catalytic cracker was shut down on Monday when a unit seemed to
be running at above normal speed. The Company added that
operations at the refinery should be restarted Wednesday.

But with majority of the workforce dismissed in the course of a
national strike, analysts warn that the Company may lack trained
workers to restart the refinery safely.

Tom Knight, director of trading for Truman Arnold Cos., said, "A
restart on those units is tricky even with experienced people.
This underscores our concerns."

El Palito is produces an average of 65,000 barrels of gasoline
daily.


* Venezuela's Political Crisis Means Long-Term Ratings Impact
-------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services issued a report Tuesday that
finds that the current political paralysis, ongoing oil sector
strike, and increasing violence will have long-term consequences
for Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and will constrain the
government's ratings for a number of years.

The article, entitled, "Venezuela: Political Crisis Will Have
Long-Term Ratings Impact," (available on RatingsDirect, and on
Standard & Poor's public web site, www.standardandpoors.com),
states that even if Petroleos de Venezuela ( PDVSA) succeeds in
raising oil production levels, heightened social unrest and
violence could undermine an economic recovery.

"The economy is likely to contract by nearly 20% in 2003 on top
of the 9% contraction in 2002," said sovereign analyst Richard
Francis. "Despite rising oil production, the failure to reach a
political solution to the conflict over President Hugo Chavez's
tenure could lead to heightened social unrest and an escalation
of violence, which would further undermine the economy and
exacerbate the deep recession already underway," he added.

According to Mr. Francis, a series of measures implemented over
the past month-including price and foreign-exchange controls-has
introduced serious economic distortions. Local debt exchanges in
Venezuela highlight the significant fiscal and substantial
liquidity pressures facing the central government due to the
ongoing oil sector strike and the severe economic downturn.
Government revenue has likely fallen by nearly 40% over the last
three months.

"Liquidity is the key to external debt service payments over the
short term," noted Mr. Francis. "The level of international
reserves has stabilized at about US$14.1 billion (down from
US$15.8 billion when the strikes began in December 2002), but
could begin to fall as external debt payments ramp up in March
and the government and PDVSA tap the FIEM fund to pay general
expenses. Increased oil production, especially with high oil
prices, could alleviate some of this pressure, particularly after
March," he added.

Mr. Francis said PDVSA's ability to increase oil production is
critically important, and that high world prices and/or a sale of
assets could boost short-term liquidity and underpin the
government's ratings. "No matter how events evolve, political and
economic factors will constrain the country's ratings for a
number of years," Mr. Francis said. "Governability has been
severely damaged and the social fabric of the country has
unraveled, exposing deep divisions in society. Any government is
likely to face continued social unrest and violence, weak and
politicized institutions, and a polarized society. Over the
medium term, Venezuela faces the arduous task of rebuilding its
institutions and its economy," he concluded.

ANALYST:  Richard Francis, New York (1)-212-438-7348



               ***********


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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