TCRLA_Public/030410.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, April 10, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 71



AHOLD: Wal-Mart, Carrefour Eye Choice Assets in Latin America
APSA: Fitch Argentina Rates Bonds `BB(arg)', Stocks `3'
ARGENTINE BANKS: Argentines Ignore Deposit Freeze Lift
REPSOL YPF: La Coruna Refinery Hit By Explosion


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Moves to Dismiss Fraud Claims


AES CORPORATION: BNDES Wants Cash; Won't Settle for Refinancing
BCP: BellSouth May Turn Over BCP Stake To Creditors Soon
COPEL: Posts BRL320 Million Net Loss For 2002
CSN: Draws Up Budget for 2Mt Expansion Plans
CSN: Plans To Sell US$100 Million Two-Year Bonds

CSN: 3-way Merger Talks Rumored with European Partners
CSN: President Denies CSN Restarted Talks With Corus Group
EMBRATEL: Signs US$317 Million Outsourcing Contract With IBM
SENDAS: Hires Accenture In a Bid to Reduce Losses
USIMINAS: Meryll Lynch Upgrades Firm to `Buy' from 'Neutral'


ENAMI: Minister Predicts Sale of Ventanas to Codelco
NEXTEL: Interconnection Tests Prove Positive


PETROECUADOR: Economy Ministry Bent on Cutting Budget by US$200M


CFE: Reports MXP5.51 Billion 2002 Net Loss

S T .   L U C I A

CABLE & WIRELESS: Accused of Blocking Calls to Digicel Network

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Gets Extension on Lease Payments Originally Due Yesterday
BWIA: Faces Suit Next Week for Failure to Release Separation Pay
BWIA: Tax Office Holding Up Release of Severance Package

     - - - - - - - - - -


AHOLD: Wal-Mart, Carrefour Eye Choice Assets in Latin America
At least two leading retailers in the United States and Europe
have reportedly opened talks with troubled Dutch rival, Royal
Ahold, over its South American chains, which are up for sale.

Citing sources privy to the talks, The Business said Tuesday
American retailing giant, Wal-Mart, and French leader, Carrefour,
are about to conduct due diligence on some of Ahold's Latin
American subsidiaries.  According to the report, both potential
buyers are only interested in selected businesses and not the
entire chain of stores in the region.

The report says a major issue in the current talks is the demand
of Wal-Mart and Carrefour for full access to books, ostensibly to
avoid missing out on potential liabilities.  Since February,
several suits have been filed against Ahold, accusing it of
accounting irregularities.  One such irregularity -- overstating
a U.S. subsidiary's books by US$500 million -- which the company
has admitted, led to the ouster of CEO Cees Van der Hoeven.  A
U.S. Securities Commission probe is still ongoing.

According to The Business, Ahold's 429 stores in Brazil, Peru,
Paraguay and Argentina generated sales of US$2.5 billion last
year.  The company said last week it hopes to raise between
US$500 million and US$600 million from their disposal.  Analysts,
however, believe the company has weak bargaining position.

One industry source told The Business: "Any buyer holds the cards
now.  Ahold needs to sell and a company like Wal-Mart, which can
offer cash, can just name its price."

Sources told The Business Carrefour is allegedly interested in
acquiring the Ahold's two Brazilian businesses: Bom Preco and
G.Barbosa.  The division generated sales of US$820 million last
year; an acquisition of either business would allow Carrefour to
overtake France's Casino to become the largest retailer in the

Wal-Mart, on the other hand, is likely to focus its attention on
Argentina, currently the seventh largest player, the paper said.
The American giant is reportedly interested in Plaza Vea, the
hypermarket operations of Ahold's wholly owned Disco subsidiary,
whose accounting practices are also under investigation.  Wal-
Mart has struggled to grow in Argentina, with increasingly strict
planning regulations, The Business said.

CONTACT:  Royal Ahold
          Investor Relations:
          Huibert Wurfbain, 011-31-75-659-5813
          Media Relations:
          Annemiek Louwers, 011-31-75-659-5720
          Taylor Rafferty New York
          Media Relations:
          Ethan Sack, 212/889-4350
          Taylor Rafferty London
          Media Relations:
          Matthew Nardella, + 44 20 7936 0400

APSA: Fitch Argentina Rates Bonds `BB(arg)', Stocks `3'
Fitch Argentina Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. rated Alto Palermo
S.A.'s (Apsa) corporate bonds `BB(arg)' on Thursday, according to
an announcement in the official Web Site of the National
Securities Commission of Argentina.

Based on definitions given by the ratings agency, the `BB(arg)'
rating denotes a fairly weak credit risk relative to other
issuers or issues in Argentina. Within the context of the
country, said Fitch, payment on this debt is uncertain to some
degree and capacity for timely repayment remains more vulnerable
to adverse economic change over time.

The rating, based on the Company's financial health as of
December 30, 2002, affects ARS85 million of bonds described as
"obligaciones negociables simples no convertibles en acciones",
classified under "simple issue." The bonds come due on April 7,

Meanwhile, Apsa's stocks, described as "acciones ordinarias" were
rated `3' by the same ratings agency.

According to the Financial Times, Apsa's principal activities are
developing, administering, acquiring and locating productive
commercial centers and residential complexes. It also invests in
properties and furnitures, industrializes and raw materials,
exports and imports raw materials and other materials, aside from
functioning as a developer of bound/joint residential complexes
at the commercial centers that they operate or develop.

Apsa also participates in the credit card business through its
subsidiary and also develops Internet sites to stimulate e-
commerce through E-Commerce Latina SA.

CONTACT:  Alto Palermo S.A. (APSA)
          476 Hipolito Yrigoyen
          Buenos Aires
          Phone: +54 11 4344 4600
          Home Page:
          Eduardo Sergio Elsztain, Chairman
          Marcos Marcelo Mindlin , Vice Chairman
          Aaron Gabriel Juejati, Vice Chairman

ARGENTINE BANKS: Argentines Ignore Deposit Freeze Lift
Contrary to earlier predictions, Argentines did not form a long
beeline from their respective banks to withdraw frozen deposits
that -- for the first time since last year -- were open Tuesday,
says Dow Jones.

The news agency said a government decree lifting a yearlong ban
on withdrawals from dollar accounts, came into effect Tuesday,
although implemented partially by most banks.

"Under the plan, as of Tuesday savers gained access in pesos to
certificates of deposit up to an original value of US$30,000 - or
ARS42,000, according to a formula that pesified them at a rate of
ARS1.40 to the dollar - while holders of deposits between
ARS42,000 and ARS100,000 can access their funds in 90 days, with
amounts above that freed in 120 days," Dow Jones explains.

"CD (certificate of deposits) holders will get their pesified
initial balance plus accumulated interest at a rate indexed to
inflation, which makes the amount equal to about two times the
original nominal dollar value in peso terms," Dow Jones adds.

By Dow Jones' estimate, savers were getting about ARS2.50 for
every dollar they invested, leaving them short 40 centavos. The
peso closed Tuesday at ARS2.915 to the dollar.  The program is
voluntary for savers, who have 10 days to sign on, after which
their CDs will remain frozen.

Analysts interviewed by Dow Jones say the passive response of
depositors Tuesday could only mean one thing: confidence in the
economy and the government is back.  Dow Jones notes the relative
stability in the currency market, where the Argentine peso is
trading near 11-month highs.  The scene these days in Argentina
is in sharp contrast from last year -- gone are the massive,
oftentimes violent, street protests, says the news agency.

A spokeswoman for Banco Galicia told Dow Jones that general
feedback since the government announced its plan last week
suggests around 90% of clients intend to reinvest their unfrozen
funds in new certificates of deposit.  She said Galicia, one of
the country's biggest private banks, had set up a 24-hour hotline
for savers to let the bank know their intentions.  Other banks
are taking similar measures, the report says.

Still, despite this positive development, many economists and
financial analysts, including some in important positions in
Washington, do not believe the worst is over for Argentina,
although they acknowledge that the government has taken a
significant step forward in the long battle to restore
Argentina's financial health.

"Sooner or later, things have to be normalized in the banking
sector and in that sense if you go into a freeze in the way it
happened here, you have to get out of it in one way or another,"
said Stefan Ingves, director of the monetary and exchange affairs
department at the IMF, in an interview with Dow Jones

"But you want to do it in such a way that the system remains
stable, and so far these gradual steps have been working, and
that's a good thing.  But there's plenty of work to do ahead," he

A total of US$400 million of corporate bonds issued by Compa¤ˇa
Internacional de Telecomunicaciones were rated `B(arg)+' by the
local arm of Fitch Ratings Agency on Thursday.

According to the National Securities Commission of Argentina, the
rating affects US$225 million of "Clase A bajo el Programa de
US$800 millones", and US$175 million of "Clase B bajo el Programa
de US$800 millones."

Both set of bonds were classified under "Series and/or Class".

The rating, based on the Company's financial position as of
December 31, 2002, denotes a significantly weak credit risk
relative to other issuers or issues in Argentina.

Financial commitments, said Fitch, are currently being paid but a
limited margin of safety remains and capacity for continued
timely payments is contingent on sustained favorable business and
economic environment.

REPSOL YPF: La Coruna Refinery Hit By Explosion
The La Coruna oil refinery of Spanish-Argentine oil and energy
company, Repsol YPF S.A. was rocked by an explosion last Monday.
Dow Jones reported that the Company is still investigating the
cause of the explosion. The explosion shut off 25 percent of the
refinery's capacity, most of which is destined for the domestic
market, particularly the northwest region of Spain, said the

The Company also said that production should be back in full
swing after a few days. As of Tuesday, Repsol shares declined by
1.1 percent to EUR13.90.

"We still don't know the cause (of the explosion), but we hope
(full) production will be resumed within a couple of days," the
report quoted an unnamed spokesperson.

La Coruna has a refining capacity of 120,000 barrels a day,
around 16 percent of the company's total capacity on the Spanish

          Paseo de la Castellana 278
          28046 Madrid
          Phone: +34 91 348 81 00
          Fax  +34 91 348 28 21
          Telex  48162 RESOLE
          Home Page:
          Alfonso Cortina de Alcocer, Chairman
          Jose Vilarasu Salat, Vice Chairman
          Antonio Hernandez-Gil Alvarez Cienfuegos, Vice Chairman


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Moves to Dismiss Fraud Claims
Bermuda-based conglomerate Tyco International Ltd. filed a motion
seeking to dismiss securities fraud claims against the company,
reports Reuters News. The Company argued that the company, not
the investors, was the victim of the fraud allegedly committed by
its former top executives.

According to the motion, "Tyco is the victim, not the
perpetrator, of executive misdeeds. And Tyco's accounting has
been shown to be aggressive, but not fraudulent."

The motion, 73 pages long, was filed in a U.S. District Court in
New Hampshire last week.

The Company is facing scores of securities fraud claims filed by
investors who lost money after Tyco's stocks nose-dived shortly
after the accounting scandals involving its top executives was

Last year, Tyco's former chief executive Dennis Kozlowski and
former finance chief Mark Swartz were charged of grand larceny
and enterprise corruption for allegedly stealing more than US$600
million from company coffers.

Both men entered pleas of not guilty, and are out on bail. Mr.
Kozlowski's bail was set at US$100 million while Mr. Swartz' was
US$50 million.

On the other hand, former Tyco director Frank Walsh, has pleaded
guilty to fraud while Tyco's former chief legal counsel Mark
Belnick pleaded innocence.

          Gary Holmes
          Phone: 212-424-1314

          Kathy Manning
          Phone: 603-334-3900

          Home Page:


AES CORPORATION: BNDES Wants Cash; Won't Settle for Refinancing
Power firm, AES Corp., has until the end of April to settle its
debts with Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) or face foreclosure
of properties, Business News Americas said Tuesday.

BNDES President Carlos Lessa told the paper recently the company
is scrambling to strike a deal with the bank, but he doesn't see
any "room" for a debt restructuring.  Asked if the bank had
indeed been offered US$85 million to relax its position, he
promptly replied: "Our credit is not restricted to US$85 million.
As far as I know, there's at least US$300 million more overdue."

According to Business New Americas, the company failed to pay an
installment of US$85 million on January 31 and another US$330
million on February 28.  Under Brazilian law, creditor banks have
90 days to foreclose debts, counting from the first default
episode.  This means that AES' deadline expires by the end of

The company owes the bank US$1.2 billion, the money it used to
buy Eletropaulo Metropolitana in 1998.  Mr. Lessa wouldn't say
whether or not his bank will takeover the company if AES fails to
pay up.

BCP: BellSouth May Turn Over BCP Stake To Creditors Soon
Telecoms BellSouth holding is expected to relinquish its 44.5
percent stake in Sao Paulo-based mobile operator BCP to BCP
creditors by the end of this month, reports local paper Valor

After the turn over, creditors are expected to sell BCP to other
companies. Among the prospective buyers are Oi, Telecom Italia
Mobile (TIM) and Telecom Americas.

The turn over, in effect, transforms 30-50 percent of BCP's debt
into shares. Afterwards, Bellsouth is free to exit the operation.

Economico cited unnamed sources close to the issue as saying
local bank Safra - BCP's co-controlling shareholder alongside
Bellsouth - will retain a reduced stake in the operator and
render control to the creditors.

BNAmericas said that BCP would be a valuable acquisition for any
of the mentioned buyers, as it is located in the country's
richest state.

In related news, BCP sister company BSE was sold to Telecom
Americas for US$180 million last month. Troubles as BCP and BSE
began after its owners, BellSouth and Banco Safra defaulted on a
US$375mn payment over a disagreement on how to manage the
company's debt.

          Rua Fl›rida, 1970 4o andar
          Sao Paulo - SP
          Tel: 55 11 5509-6428
          Fax: 55 11 5509-6257
          Home Page:

          1155 Peachtree St. NE
          Atlanta, GA 30309-3610
          Phone: 404-249-2000
          Fax: 404-249-5599
          Home Page:
          Investor Relations
          Phone (US):    800.241.3419
          Fax: 404.249.2060

COPEL: Posts BRL320 Million Net Loss For 2002
Brazilian utility Companhia Paranaense de Energia (Copel) is in
the red with a BRL320 million (US$100 million) net loss for 2002.
This translates to a BRL0.00117 loss per share. In the 2001, said
Business News Americas, the Company had a BRL475 million profit.
Operating losses reached BRL339 million, from operating gains of
BRL628 million in 2001.

The company saw posted revenue increase 18 percent last year, to
BRL2.66 billion, but gross earnings fell 53 percent to BRL315
million, according to a statement from the Company. Copel, which
distributes electricity in Parana state, had a net equity of
BRL1.72 billion at the end of 2002.

The Company's main acitivities are the generation, transmission,
distribution and sale of electric energy. The Company is also
involved in the gas distribution and telecommunications
industries. The company serves 1.107 localities, through 18 power
plants, 60 agencies and 60 customer service points throughout

CONTACT:  Cia Paranaense de Energia COPEL
          Rua Colonel Dulcidio, 800
          80420-170 Curitibia - PR
          Phone: +55 41 322-3535
          Fax  +55 41 224-4312
          Home Page:
          Ary Queiroz, Chairman

CSN: Draws Up Budget for 2Mt Expansion Plans
Brazilian flat steelmaker CSN has put together a budget for a
proposed 2Mt expansion, said CSN chairman Benjamin Steinbruch, as
quoted by AE-Setorial news agency. The Company expects to spend
between US$440 million to US$480 million on the expansion, that
is aboutUS$220-240 per ton.

Mr. Steinbruch said that three consortiums that will present bids
on the project within 120 days, and the Company will evaluate the
offers within 90 days.

An earlier report from Business News Americas said that Voest
Alpine, Nippon Steel and SMS-Demag were reportedly contracted for
the project, but CSN has not confirmed if these three companies
are the ones to submit offers.

Recently, Brazilian business daily Gazeta Mercantil reported that
the Company plans to open a bidding process for the planned
expansion. The report added that CSN may sign contracts with
suppliers by the end of the year.

          Rua Lauro Muller 116-36 Andar, PO Box 2736
          Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, 22299-900
          Phone: 55 21 5451707
          Fax: 5521 5451529
          Home Page:
          Benjamin Steinbruch, Chief Executive Officer
          Antonio Mary Ulrich, Executive Officer - Investors

CSN: Plans To Sell US$100 Million Two-Year Bonds
Brazilian steelmaker Cia. Siderurgica Nacional SA (CSN) plans to
sell as much as US$100 million of bonds this month, said the
Company's president Benjamin Steinbruch.

O Estado de S. Paulo daily reported that the bonds are likely to
mature in two years. The paper added that the Company has US$250
million of commercial paper due this month US$80 million due in
October, and about US$140 million of debt due this year. In
February, the Company was able to sell US$85 million in one-year
bonds to yield 9.75 percent.

A recent report from Business News Americas said that the Company
is expected to pay out a dividend of US$3 per 1,000 lot of
shares, with a total payout estimated at BRL860 million. The
figure was reportedly based on the Company's major shareholder
Vicunha group's need to pay an installment on a loan that comes
due this year.

CSN: 3-way Merger Talks Rumored with European Partners
A three-way merger between Brazilian steel-maker, CSN, and
European counterparts, Corus and LNM, could produce the largest
steel-maker in the world, says Business News Americas, but
analysts say this won't necessarily be good for CSN.  They say
the benefits from any such merger will depend largely on how the
deal is hammered out.

Talks of a three-way combination have been circulating, reviving
similar speculations that fizzed out a year ago involving British
steel-maker Corus.  Accordingly, this time around, Holland's LNM
is lining up as well.

If successful, the merger will create the world's largest steel-
maker with installed capacity of 56Mt/year, according to the
paper.  This is more than that of current leader, Luxembourg-
based Arcelor, which only has a capacity of 45Mt/y.

But Unibanco analyst Katia Brollo, who does not believe a merger
in the short term, is not impressed with the plan.  "It depends
on the negotiations, and then we would have to add up the

Sudameris' Ricardo Reis also shares the same view: "The merger
either with just Corus or also including LNM would depend on the
size of the stake that CSN would obtain."

Both analysts point out that if the merger structure of the
failed Corus-CSN combination were to be applied in the latest
attempt, the CSN shareholders would be disadvantaged.  Under the
failed deal, announced on July 17 last year, Corus shareholders
would have held 62.4% of the new group and CSN shareholders the
rest, via a new Brazilian-listed holding company.  This despite
the fact that CSN had much better operational figures than Corus.

"This is how the previous deal was modeled, which was good for
CSN's majority shareholder but bad for minority shareholders
since the liquidity of their shares would have declined," said
Mr. Reis in an interview with Business News Americas.  Still, he
believes global steel sector consolidation is inevitable.

CSN officials, for their part, refuse to comment on merger talks.
"CSN's interest in the future is in making an acquisition that
adds value to its business in Brazil," Benjamin Steinbruch, the
chairman of CSN's board, was recently quoted as saying by AE-
Setorial news service.

CSN: President Denies CSN Restarted Talks With Corus Group
Cia. Siderurgica Nacional SA President Benjamin Steinbruch denied
reports that his company has restarted talks with Corus Group
Plc, reports Reuters News.

"There are no talks," said Mr. Steinbruch.

Last week, the Financial Times reported cited unidentified people
reportedly close to the matter, that the two companies have
resumed talks of their proposed combination.

Five months ago, Corus offered to buy CSN for US$3.5 billion, to
become the world's fifth-largest steelmaker. However, talks were
abandoned as investors shied away at the additional debt.

Nevertheless, analysts believe that CSN will proceed with its
planned capacity expansion, despite any merger.

EMBRATEL: Signs US$317 Million Outsourcing Contract With IBM
Brazil's long distance telecoms incumbent Embratel Participacoes
S.A. has outsourced its entire IT network to the local unit of
US-based International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)
according to the Brazilian tech news agency IDG Now.

The contract, worth US$317 million, according to Dow Jones, aims
to reduce Embratel's IT expenses by about 30 percent annually.

Under the contract, IBM, which derives its telecommunications
services from Embratel, will consolidate and manage Embratel's IT
infrastructure, covering 11,500 Embratel employees in 100

Recently, Embratel has reached a deal with creditors, and
restructured US$861 million of its debts. The deal also reduced
the Company's need for further restructuring as maturity nears.

CONTACT:  Silvia M.R. Pereira
          Investor Relations
          Phone: (55 21) 2121-9662
          Fax: (55 21) 2121-6388

SENDAS: Hires Accenture In a Bid to Reduce Losses
Brazilian supermarket chain, Sendas, engaged consulting firm,
Accenture to help it reduce losses. NewsEdge reported that the
Sendas had a net loss of BRL12.7 million in 2002, from a net
profit of BRL9 million in 2001. With the help of Accenture,
Sendas hopes to promote an operating, commercial and logistic
appraisal in the Company.

The Company ended the previous year with BRL2.495 billion in
sales, but turnover dropped by 4.8 percent. Investments were
reduced to BRL90.9 million in 2002 from BRL96.8 in 2001.

Senda's market share in Rio de Janeiro was reportedly reduced by
the strong performance of local supermarket chains as Guanabara
and Zona Sul.

As a result of the disappointing figures, and to reduce its
BRL390 million in debt, the Company decided to sell of non-
strategic assets.

USIMINAS: Meryll Lynch Upgrades Firm to `Buy' from 'Neutral'
Merrill Lynch has raised its recommendation on Brazilian steel
maker Usinas Siderurgicas Minas Gerais (Usiminas) from "neutral"
to "buy", reports Business News Americas. Furthermore, the bank
raised its pre-tax earnings projections for the Company.

A statement from Merill said, "In a scenario of a relatively
stable currency and firm steel prices, Usiminas should be able to
significantly de-leverage in 18 months."

The bank projects that the Company should be able to pay down
roughly US$350 million and roll over some US$650 million of its
US$1 billion of debt maturing this year.

Merrill expects Usiminas to post Ebitda figures of BRL2.85
billion this year and BRL3.05 billion in 2004. The forecasts were
revised higher by 9 percent and 4 percent, respectively, said the

CONTACT:  Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais Usiminas PN A
          Rua Prof. Jose Vieira de
          Mendonca, 3011
          Engenheiro Nogueira
          31310-260 Belo Horizonte - MG
          Phone:  +55 31 3499-8000
          Fax:  +55 31 3499-8475
          Home Page:
          Jose Augusto Muller de Oliveira Gomes, Chairman


ENAMI: Minister Predicts Sale of Ventanas to Codelco
The transfer of Enami's principal asset -- the Ventanas copper
smelter-refinery -- to state copper corporation, Codelco, is now
assured, said Mining Minister Alfonso Dulanto.

Speaking during the 43rd anniversary of the company, Mr. Dulanto
pledged neither Enami nor Codelco, the world's largest copper
producer, nor state oil company, Enap, would be privatized.
Although he did not confirm it, the government has been rumored
to ask congress to effect the Ventanas transfer by the middle of
the year.

The Ventanas plant produces around 320,000t/y copper cathodes,
and is thought to be worth US$300 million-400 million, says the
paper.  Union leaders have long urged the government to speed up
the transfer in order to ensure the survival of Enami, which has
US$500 million in debts.  Small and medium scale miners, however,
oppose the Ventanas transfer because they've been using the
company to process their minerals at what some regard as
subsidized rates, the paper says.

NEXTEL: Interconnection Tests Prove Positive
Chile press reports that the country's four mobile
telecommunications operators have tacitly accepted an obligation
to allow interconnection testing with NII Holding's Chilean arm,
Nextel Chile.

Business News Americas explained that none of the companies have
so far requested fair trade agency FNE to overrule their
interconnection obligation. The deadline for the said request was
April 7.

The report added that the operators would have been liable for a
fine if they had not accepted Nextel's right to run the tests.

Nextel already offers analog trunking service to some 7,000 users
in the regions covering the capital Santiago and second largest
port Valparaiso, and plans to launch digital services through
subsidiaries Centennial and Multikom, said the report.

Meanwhile, Nextel is still waiting for the decision on its appeal
against a court ruling, issued in November, which cancelled its
right to a digital trunking concession.

The said ruling was mobile operators' last chance at attacking
Nextel's concession after the case was rejcted by the telecoms
regulator Subtel, the comptroller and the antitrust commission

CONTACT:  NII Holdings, Inc., Reston
          Investor Relations:
          Catherine Neel
          Phone: 703/390-5173
          Media Relations:
          Claudia E. Restrepo
          Phone: 786/251-7020

          Home Page:


PETROECUADOR: Economy Ministry Bent on Cutting Budget by US$200M
Things were not looking good for state-owned oil company,
Petroecuador, as its board met Wednesday to tackle its 2003
budget, says Business News Americas.

The paper says the economy ministry was still insisting on
cutting by US$200 million the US$1.84 billion budget, going into
the meeting yesterday.  But the board has only been successful in
shaving US$90 million off the budget, making it likely that the
ministry will award some of the company's projects to the private
sector to make up for the difference.

The report says most of cuts will affect the company's production
arm, Petroproduccion, which will have to postpone to 2004 its
plans to buy four drilling rigs at a cost of US$53 million.  The
board will propose to cut another US$36 million through lowering
salaries and other operating costs.

The economy ministry agreed last week to a non-retention
agreement on fuel sales, which will generate about US$45 million
for Petroecuador in April, and allow the company to meet its
short-term financial obligations, the paper adds.  The downside
is: Petroecuador has to cover this US$45 million from its 2003
budget, which is already US$200 million less.

Just how bad the situation in the company is, VP Victor Hugo
Jijon has this to say:  "[Of the weekly income we give to the
economy ministry] they give us back a miserable 10% which isn't
even enough to pay our operating costs."

In money terms, this means the company only receives US$9 million
to cover operating costs and pay debts that amount US$28 million
a week, he said.


CFE: Reports MXP5.51 Billion 2002 Net Loss
Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico's state power company
reported a 2002 net loss of MXP5.51 billion (US$511 million),
compared to a MXP6.5 billion profit for 2001, relates Business
News Americas, citing information from the CFE's Web Site.

Despite an operating profit of MXP5 billion, the Company still
lost money due to the differences in the exchange rate. In 2001,
the Company has a MXP5.33 operating loss.

That turnaround was attributed to the reduction of subsidies on
residential bills through 2002, as well as cost cutting measures
CFE implemented, said the report.

Revenues from energy sales came to MXP118 billion, up from MXP107
billion in 2001.

In the meantime, operations on the US$503 million, 489MW Mexicali
combined cycle project in Baja California state will start this
month, in line with the Company's Poise Projects.

The Poise plan includes 61 projects, which are aimed to produce a
total of 30,000MW at a cost MXP563 billion, to be completed by
2011. Presently, the plan includes 16 projects under
construction, which are estimated to generate 6,666MW by February

          Rio Rodano 14, Col. Cuauhtemoc
          06598 Mexico, D.F., Mexico
          Phone: +52-55-5229-4400
          Fax: +52-55-5310-4614
          Home Page:
          Alfredo Elias Ayub, General Director
          Arturo Hernandez Alvarez, Director of Operations
          Francisco J. Santoyo Vargas, Director of Finance

S T .   L U C I A

CABLE & WIRELESS: Accused of Blocking Calls to Digicel Network
The trade spat between Irish telecom, Digicel, which operates in
St. Lucia, and Cable & Wireless is threatening to become a major
legal row, says The Associated Press.

Digicel is reportedly considering filing an injunction against
the British rival to prevent it from blocking international calls
to its wireless network.  Digicel Chief Operations Officer Kevin
White claims Cable & Wireless is blocking calls from Barbados,
the Cayman Islands and Grenada, despite the two companies having
reached an interconnection agreement.

For four decades, according to the Associated Press, Cable &
Wireless had virtual monopoly of the telecom service in St.
Lucia.  Although the market is now open to other operators, they
however must rent lines and other infrastructure from Cable &

"Even though the monopoly has ended, Cable & Wireless is still
trying to maintain its monopolistic hold over the market," Mr.
White told the Associated Press in an interview.  He didn't say
when his company would file the injunction or in which court.

Cable & Wireless denied the accusation, saying it remained
committed to establishing a contract with Digicel.  Though the
companies had signed an interconnection agreement, Cable and
Wireless General Manager Rudy Gurley said the companies were
still negotiating international call rates.

"It is unfair for Digicel to suggest that Cable and Wireless is
using anticompetitive tactics with regards to this issue," Mr.
Gurley said in a statement.

Aside from Digicel, American phone company, AT&T, is also
planning to offer cellular services in St. Lucia.

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Gets Extension on Lease Payments Originally Due Yesterday
BWIA CEO Conrad Aleong heaved a huge sigh of relief yesterday
after major aircraft lessor, International Lease Finance
Corporation (ILFC), allowed the company to postpone lease
payments worth US$3 million, The Trinidad Express says.

The BWIA, already six weeks behind its monthly payments to ILFC,
is still negotiating for a government cash injection, according
to the paper.  It is not clear if the postponement granted by the
plane lessor is indefinite, but the paper says the latter is
willing to wait for the results of the negotiations.

"The ILFC has extended the time to pay to give BWIA the
opportunity to get a formal response from the government on the
request for financial assistance," BWIA Spokesman Clint Williams
was quoted by the Express as saying yesterday.  The ILFC leases
six Boeing 737-800 aircraft to the company.

The paper says Mr. Aleong was scheduled to meet with Prime
Minister Patrick Manning yesterday to present the carrier's
restructuring plan.  Mr. Manning had earlier required the company
to come up with a viable plan before the government releases any
aid.  The government is reportedly prepared to assume 49% of
BWIA's debts, said Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America

Pending negotiations with the government, the carrier says it
will continue to operate BWIA's normal schedule.  This despite
Mr. Aleong's threat last week that the airline "may not make it
beyond April 15 without a significant and immediate cash

The plan to be presented to Mr. Manning, says the Express,
includes a proposal to reduce the frequency of daily flights to
North America and salary cuts of between five and 25 percent.

BWIA is believed to be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a
week, according to the Express, and is a victim of the slide in
travel demand since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in
the United States.

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

BWIA: Faces Suit Next Week for Failure to Release Separation Pay
BWIA unions plan to sue the carrier next week for allegedly
reneging on its obligation to pay in full the severance packages
of retrenched employees, The Trinidad Express reported Tuesday.

"After 75 days of the date of (retrenchment) notice, the unions
can file an industrial relations offence in the industrial court
according to the Industrial Relations Act.  That 75 days ends
next week.  On that day we are going to file the action," Jagdeo
Jagroop, president of the Communication Transport and General
Workers Trade Union, told the Express during a rally the other

BWIA Spokesman Clint Williams denies the unions' accusation.  He
said about 41 retrenched employees have already received part
payments via cheques ranging from TT$2,000 to TT$10,000 while
another 68 will receive full payments in the coming weeks.  The
carrier retrenched 617 employees.

Mr. Jagroop did not confirm Mr. Williams' claims, but he said
unions have already advised retrenched members not to take
management's offer of TT$1.2 million (or 2.8 percent of the TT$53
million total severance package), as part payment since that
would hinder their suit to get the full amount.

Meanwhile, union members on Tuesday called on the company to
replace its board and dismiss top-level executives.

"The board and (BWIA chief executive officer Conrad) Aleong
should be removed.  What BWIA needs is a purge at that level,"
Theo Oliver, president of the Airline Superintendents
Association, said in front of a crowd of 100 union members
chanting "we want money, we want it now."

"The company needs to exorcise all of the board and management,"
Mr. Jagroop added.

BWIA: Tax Office Holding Up Release of Severance Package
Distressed flag carrier, BWIA, is pointing the blame on the Board
of Inland Revenue for the delay in the release of severance
packages for retrenched employees.

BWIA Spokesman Clint Williams told The Trinidad Guardian recently
that the Board has yet to approve the severance pay of at least
127 employees entitled to less than TT$25,000 in separation
benefits.  He gave this breakdown of how BWIA intended to pay the
severance packages for the 472 retrenched in Trinidad:

     (i) Packages of more than TT$25,000 due 277 employees:

         Mr. Williams said 41 have already picked up part-
         payment of half a month's salary.  This part-payment
         is available to all and another half month's salary
         will be available on April 22.

    (ii) Packages of less than TT$25,000 due 195 employees:

         Mr. Williams said 68 of those packages have received
         BIR approval and 29 of those cheques are already
         prepared with another 39 expected yesterday.  The
         remaining 127 are yet to receive BIR approval, he said.

"We have to go through the process of the Board of Inland
Revenue.  Even if we [have] TT$8 billion in the bank right now we
could not pay because we did not get Board of Inland Revenue
approval," Mr. Williams told the Guardian.

Total retrenched employees number 617, the paper says, with 472
of them stationed in Trinidad.  The rest were assigned outside
the country.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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