TCRLA_Public/030618.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

          Wednesday, June 18, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 119

                           Headlines

A R G E N T I N A

DEL POLICLINICO: Court Declares Company Bankrupt
DESIGN PRESS: Declared Bankrupt By Court
DIRECTV LATIN AMERICA: Judge OKs Motion To Obtain DIP Financing
MALVINAS SATELITAL: Contract Loss Ends In `Concurso' Filing
MOXOTO: Seeks Court's OK To Begin Reorganization

PRO: Under Receivership on Court's Order


B E R M U D A

TYCO INTERNATIONAL: To Restate Financials for Disclosed Charges
TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Declares Regular Quarterly Dividend


B R A Z I L

AES CORPORATION: Reaffirms Guidance for 2003
AES CORPORATION: Offers of 40,000,000 Shares of Common Stock
GERDAU: Analyst Says Gerdau Could Save US$38.3 Million on Merger
VESPER: Bidders for Qualcomm Affiliate Now Number Four


C H I L E

ENAMI: Congress to Tackle Ventanas Plant Transfer this Week
INVERLINK: Inverlink Chief Paid Santander Exec to Commit Fraud
TELEFONICA CTC: Rates Decision Panel Completion Looks Likely


D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

BANCO INTERCONTINENTAL: Attracts Serious Bid from Scotiabank
BANCO INTERCONTINENTAL: IT Unit Latest to Fall Into Govt Hands
BANCREDITO: Central Bank Says Group Is Solvent


E C U A D O R

PETROECUADOR: Fails To Restart Pipeline After Technical Problems


M E X I C O

ATSI COMMUNICATIONS: Announces Partnership in Mexico
BANRURAL: New World Bank-funded Agency to Replace Bankrupt Bank
CFE: To Get More Banks Involved In Payment Program
GRUPO TMM: Announces Formation of Bondholder Committee
TV AZTECA: Bear Stearns Lowers Share Recommendation

TV AZTECA: Will Not Bail Out Iusacell, Says Executive
TV AZTECA: Merrill Lynch Downgrades Recommendation on Iusacell
UNEFON: Ends Legal Dispute with Nortel; Inks New Supply Deal


T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Board Appoints Two General Managers To Head Airline
BWIA: Workers Agree To Benefits Cut, But Not To Pay Cut
BWIA: Executive To Meet With Workers' Union in Antigua
CARONI: Ag Minister Confident in Industrial Court Ruling


V E N E Z U E L A

PDVSA: Won't Re-Hire Dismissed Workers
PDVSA: Brit Businessmen Show Interest in Venezuelan Oil, Gas

     -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

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A R G E N T I N A
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DEL POLICLINICO: Court Declares Company Bankrupt
------------------------------------------------
Court No. 22 of Buenos Aires on declared Del Policlinico S.C.S.,
case number 33646351419, bankrupt, according to local news portal
Infobae.Com.

Ms. Alejandra Ethel Giacomini is receiver. Creditors must have
her verify their claims before August 4, 2003.

Ms. Giacomini will file the individual report on September 15 and
the general report on October 27.

CONTACT:  Ms. Alejandra Ethel Giacomini
          Carabobo 250
          Buenos Aires


DESIGN PRESS: Declared Bankrupt By Court
----------------------------------------
Buenos Aires-based company Design Press S.R.L. was declared
bankrupt by Court No. 25, through a ruling on case number
30707451803, reports local news source Infobae. Secretary No. 50
of Buenos Aires assists the Court in this matter.

The Court assigned Mr. Fernando Schettini as receiver for the
process. Claims will be verified until August 11, 2003.

CONTACT:  Design Press S.R.L.
          Tucuman 784
          Buenos Aires

          Mr. Fernando Schettini
          Talcahuano 159
          Buenos Aires


DIRECTV LATIN AMERICA: Judge OKs Motion To Obtain DIP Financing
---------------------------------------------------------------
Subsequent to the May 13 hearing, Hughes and DirecTV considered
the issues raised by the Court and Hughes evaluated whether and
to what extent it would be willing to lend funds to DirecTV and
amend the proposed facility in light of the Court's statement at
the May 13 hearing.  In an effort to address the concerns
expressed by the Committee, Raven and by the Court, Hughes has
now agreed with DirecTV and the Committee to amend the proposed
DIP Facility and the proposed order granting the approval of the
Facility generally as:

    (a) From March 18, 2003 through August 31, 2003, Hughes
        would not have the right to declare a default under the
        Facility as a result of the occurrence of a "material
        adverse change" in DirecTV's business or financial
        condition;

    (b) In lieu of a material breach change default, the loan
        documents would be amended to add addition specific
        defaults in the event (i) of a failure of the satellites
        pursuant to which DirecTV's programming is broadcast to
        subscribers; and (ii) any of the principal local
        operating companies, through which DirecTV's programming
        is provided to subscribers, loses its operating license,
        provided that the loss of license does not result from
        any
        action taken by Surfin to collect its outstanding loans
        from the LOC unless DirecTV, any successor or assignee,
        including a trustee or examiner with expanded powers, or
        any entity on DirecTV's behalf is simultaneously seeking
        to recover the outstanding royalties owed by the LOC to
        DirecTV or any unaffiliated party is then pursuing claims
        against Surfin;

    (c) From and after September 1, 2003, a default could be
        called by Hughes based on the defaults currently provided
        for in the loan documents, the additional defaults and as
        a result of a material adverse breach provided that:

        -- the definition of Material Adverse Change set in the
           loan documents would be amended to make clear that no
           events occurring prior to June 3, 2003 relating to
           DirecTV's business or financial condition, including
           any events leading to the commencement of this Chapter
           11 case, would constitute a material adverse change;
           and

        -- the definition of Indebtedness in the loan documents
           would be changed to exclude claims resulting from the
           rejection of executory contracts and, to the extent
           not already excluded, claims arising under DirecTV's
           guaranty of the local operating companies' debt to
           Surfin so that the assertion of the claims would not
           constitute a default under the loan documents;

    (d) A Hughes or Surfin Limited "affiliate" would not have the
        benefit of the release provisions unless the entity is
        identified to the Committee on or before June 30, 2003.
        Hughes will not be permitted to designate more than 30
        entities as its Affiliates for purposes of the release
        provisions.  The release provisions in the final order
        relating to the "Claims and Defenses" as defined in the
        interim and final order would also be modified to extend
        the "bar date" to August 30, 2003, provided that the bar
        date will be extended by three days for each "affiliate"
        over 20 identified by Hughes.  Objections with respect
        to any claims filed by Hughes, Surfin or any of their
        affiliates would be required to be filed by the Committee
        on the later of August 30, 2003 or 60 days after the
        filing of a proof of claim;

    (e) In the event of any default under the Facility, Hughes
        would have the right to immediately stop making loans to
        DirecTV.  In the event of a default, other than a
        Material Adverse Change default, Hughes could not,
        without first obtaining leave of court, exercise any
        other remedies, including commencing any action to
        foreclose on its security interests, without first
        seeking and obtaining relief from the automatic stay.
        In the event Hughes sought a leave, DirecTV or the
        Committee or any other party-in-interest could raise any
        issue deemed relevant to the issue of whatever the lease
        should be granted under the standards set in Section
        362(d) of the Bankruptcy Code.  In the event of a default
        resulting from a Material Adverse Change, Hughes would
        agree to forbear from exercising any remedies for a
        period of 60 days.  During the Forbearance Period,
        DirecTV and the Committee, in consultation with Hughes,
        would agree on and retain an investment banking firm to
        market and sell DirecTV or its assets and there would be
        an additional carve-out from the liens and security
        interests to be granted to Hughes amounting to $250,000
to
        cover the expenses incurred by the investment banker.
        Hughes would retain all of its rights and claims
        respecting its collateral including the right to bid,
        including through a credit bid, at any auction or other
        disposition of its collateral.  In the event no sale has
        been agreed to during the Forbearance Period, Hughes
        would be permitted to exercise its remedies under the
        loan documents only after receiving leave of the Court
        based on the standards established by Section 362; and

    (f) Notwithstanding anything in the loan documents or other
        Proposed Amendment to the contrary, $2,000,000 of
        proceeds to be advanced by Hughes under the DIP loan or
        proceeds of Hughes' collateral may be used to fund the
        payment of fees and expenses incurred by the Committee
        from and after June 3, 2003 in investigating and
        prosecuting any claims against Hughes, Surfin or their
        affiliates to the extent the fees and expenses are
        approved by the Court.  The carve-out originally
        provided for in the loan documents will not be available
        to the Committee to fund the payment of any fees or
        expenses it incurs after June 3, 2003 in connection with
        its investigation or prosecution of claims against
        Hughes,
        Surfin or their affiliates.

In addition to the six amendments, Joel A. Waite, Esq., at Young
Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, in Wilmington, Delaware, informs
the Court that Hughes had previously agreed to revise the
Facility in the manner described at the May 13, hearing.  The
revisions include:

    (a) the elimination of the default resulting from DirecTV's
        loss of its exclusive right to file a plan of
        reorganization in this case; and

    (b) clarification that the release provisions in the Plan do
        not apply to any claim held by any party directly against
        Hughes.

DirecTV has advised the Committee about the amendments and the
Committee agreed to support the approval of the proposed DIP
Facility as amended.

Accordingly, Mr. Waite contends that with the proposed
amendments, the Court should approve the proposed DIP Facility,
especially that:

    (a) absent the approval, DirecTV will be forced to liquidate
        that will result in minimal, if any, value available for
        unsecured creditors even if the Committee is able to
        subordinate some or all of Hughes' prepetition claims;

    (b) the approval of the DIP Facility, as amended, affords
        DirecTV an opportunity to address the operational and
        related provisions confronting it and ultimately
        reorganize; and

    (c) DirecTV and Hughes have effectively and responsively
        addressed each of the issues raised by the Committee,
        Raven and the Court regarding the approval of the
        proposed DIP Facility.

After consideration and due deliberation, Judge Walsh approves
the DIP Facility, as amended, as a final order.

(Directv Latin America Bankruptcy News, Issue Number 8,
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc. 609-392-0900)


MALVINAS SATELITAL: Contract Loss Ends In `Concurso' Filing
-----------------------------------------------------------
Argentine media company Malvinas Satelital S.A. is asking
permission from the court to start reorganization proceedings. A
report from local paper Clarin indicates that the Company has
submitted a "concurso preventivo" petition to the National
Commercial Court of First Instance.

The company was reportedly forced to apply for "concurso" after
it is rendered incapable of paying its debts following mobile
telephone company CTI Movil's termination of a $5 million
contract involving publicity for CTI.

The report added that Malvinas will be seeking $10 million in
damages from CTI, but the complaint has not been filed, citing
the company's lack of funds to start the legal procedure.

CONTACT:  Malvinas Satelital
          Ms. Benilde LĒpez Gutierrez,
          Juncal 1933 PB,
          Buenos Aires
          Phone; (005411)4816.8563.
          Email: benny@bennylg.com.ar


MOXOTO: Seeks Court's OK To Begin Reorganization
------------------------------------------------
Argentine furniture dealer Moxoto S.A. is asking the court's
permission to start its reorganization. Court No. 18 of Buenos
Aires received the Company's motion for "concurso preventivo"
through case no. 33696924029.

In turn, the Court assigned Mr. Mario Galanti Podesta as receiver
for the proceedings. Infobae reports that Mr. Podesta will file
the individual reports on August 25 and the general report on
October 6.

The deadline for claims verification is June 26, 2003. Creditors
are invited to an informative assembly on April 9, 2004.

CONTACT:  Moxoto S.A.
          Lavalle 1494
          Buenos Aires

          Mr. Mario Galanti Podesta
          Cramer 2175
          Buenos Aires


PRO: Under Receivership on Court's Order
----------------------------------------
The Civil and Commercial Tribunal of the Argentine province of
Mendoza puts Pro S.R.L. under receivership following the
Company's filing for "concurso preventivo" at the province's
Court No. 2 through case no. 30695753728.

Local news portal Infobae reports that the court designated Mr.
Eduado Bauza as receiver. Creditors are advised to have their
claims verified by the receiver before July 7, 2003.

Mr. Bauza is expected to turn in the individual reports on
September 5 and the general report on December 5 this year. An
informative assembly will be held on June 8 next year.

CONTACT:  Mr. Eduardo Bauza
          Martinez de Rosas 1015
          Provincia de Mendoza



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TYCO INTERNATIONAL: To Restate Financials for Disclosed Charges
---------------------------------------------------------------
Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC, BSX: TYC, LSE: TYI) announced
on Monday that the Company intends to restate its financial
results for prior fiscal periods in connection with the ongoing
review of the Company's periodic filings by the Securities and
Exchange Commission.

All of the items that the SEC asked the Company to restate have
been previously disclosed in the Company's periodic filings, and
the cumulative effects of all charges have been recorded in the
Company's previously filed financial statements as of March 31,
2003. The charges subject to the restatement include primarily
pre-tax charges of $434.5 million ($328.0 million after-tax)
recorded in the quarter ended March 31, 2003 for items related to
prior periods and pre-tax charges of $261.6 million ($199.7
after-tax) recorded in the quarter ended December 31, 2001.

As a result of this development, the Company intends to file
amendments to its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year
ended September 30, 2002, as well as its Quarterly Reports on
Form 10-Q for the quarters ended December 31, 2002 and March 31,
2003. Revised financial statements will be included as part of
these amendments and, therefore, investors should look to such
revised financial statements when available.

This restatement will push back the charges previously recorded
into the historical periods to which they relate. The effects of
the restatement of these charges will be to reduce the Company's
reported results for fiscal years 1998-2001 and to increase the
reported results for fiscal 2002 and the first six months of
fiscal 2003. No new charges will be required in connection with
the restatement, and the restatement will have no impact on the
Company's reported balance sheet as of March 31, 2003. Tyco
continues to be in compliance with the covenant tests under its
various financing agreements in each of the affected quarters.
Tyco does not anticipate that the restatement will have any
adverse impact on its operating results or cash flows for the
remainder of fiscal 2003 or future years.

The Company is in discussions with the SEC with respect to
whether any of the other charges, which were recorded in the
quarter ended March 31, 2003, should instead be restated in prior
periods. Notably, these charges include the $364.5 million pre-
tax charge related to a change in the amortization method for ADT
customer contracts acquired from dealers, and the $265.5 million
pre-tax charge related to the change in accounting for the ADT
dealer connection fee. The Company will continue to work closely
with the SEC to resolve these outstanding issues as quickly as
possible.

Additionally, Tyco announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary,
Tyco International Group, S.A., has repurchased all of its 6.25%
Dealer Remarketable Securities ("Drs.") due 2013. The total
Dollar Price paid was $902 million based upon the $750 million
par value of the Drs. plus the difference between a Base Rate of
5.55% and the current ten-year United States Treasury yield-to-
maturity. The payment was made from available cash. The portion
of the payment in excess of par ($152 million) will be recorded
as an expense in the current fiscal quarter, which will reduce
earnings per share by 7 cents in the quarter ending June 30,
2003.

About Tyco International Ltd.

Tyco International Ltd. is a diversified manufacturing and
service company. Tyco is the world's largest manufacturer and
servicer of electrical and electronic components; the world's
largest designer, manufacturer, installer and servicer of
undersea telecommunications systems; the world's largest
manufacturer, installer and provider of fire protection systems
and electronic security services and the world's largest
manufacturer of specialty valves. Tyco also holds strong
leadership positions in medical device products, and plastics and
adhesives. Tyco operates in more than 100 countries and had
fiscal 2002 revenues from continuing operations of approximately
$36 billion.

CONTACT:  Gary Holmes (Media)
          Phone: 212-424-1314

          Edward Arditte (Investors)
          Phone: 212-424-1390


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Declares Regular Quarterly Dividend
-------------------------------------------------------
The Board of Directors of Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC,
LSE: TYI, BSX: TYC) has declared a regular quarterly cash
dividend of one and one quarter cents per common share. The
dividend is payable on August 1, 2003 to shareholders of record
on July 1, 2003.

About Tyco International Ltd.

Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC; LSE: TYI; BSX: TYC) is a
diversified manufacturing and service company. Tyco is the
world's largest manufacturer and servicer of electrical and
electronic components; the world's largest designer,
manufacturer, installer and servicer of undersea
telecommunications systems; the world's largest manufacturer,
installer and provider of fire protection systems and electronic
security services and the world's largest manufacturer of
specialty valves. Tyco also holds strong leadership positions in
medical device products, and plastics and adhesives. Tyco
operates in more than 100 countries and had reported fiscal 2002
revenues from continuing operations of approximately $36 billion.





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B R A Z I L
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AES CORPORATION: Reaffirms Guidance for 2003
--------------------------------------------
The AES Corporation (NYSE:AES) announced on Monday that for the
full year of 2003 it continues to expect diluted earnings per
share from continuing operations of $0.50 per share, consolidated
net cash provided by operating activities of approximately $1.5
billion and Total Subsidiary Distributions to Parent and
Qualified Holding Companies of $1,065 million (which is comprised
of projected subsidiary distributions to parent of $965 million
and subsidiary distributions to qualified holding companies of
$100 million).

AES also confirmed that it continued to expect 2003 year end
liquidity to be approximately $537 million. This amount reflects
projected balances of cash at the parent level of $423 million,
projected balances of cash at qualified holding companies of $75
million and availability under its revolver of $39 million. AES
believes that unconsolidated parent company liquidity is
important to the liquidity position of AES as a parent company
because of the non-recourse nature of most of AES's indebtedness.

The cash held at qualifying holding companies represents cash
sent to subsidiaries of AES domiciled outside of the United
States. Such subsidiaries have no contractual restrictions on
their ability to send cash to AES, the parent company. Cash at
those subsidiaries is used for investment and related activities
outside of the United States. Since the cash held by these
qualifying holding companies is available to the parent, AES uses
the combined measure of subsidiary distributions to parent and
qualified holding companies as a useful measure of cash available
to the parent to meet its international liquidity needs.

AES also announced that it was exploring refinancing its Senior
Secured Credit Facilities.

Projected financial information is based on certain material
assumptions. Such assumptions include, but are not limited to the
following:

a. We assume continued normal levels of operating performance and
electricity demand at our distribution companies.

b. With respect to our assumptions about electricity prices that
affect our coal plants in New York, we have assumed an average
on-peak price during 2003 of approximately $50 per mega-watt-
hour.

c. We assume operational performance at our contract generation
businesses consistent with historical levels and in accordance
with the provisions of the relevant contracts.

d. Our assumptions about asset sales include transactions that
are supported by signed agreements and that have been previously
announced.

CONTACT:  The AES Corporation
          Kenneth R. Woodcock
          Phone: 703/522-1315


AES CORPORATION: Offers of 40,000,000 Shares of Common Stock
------------------------------------------------------------
The AES Corporation (NYSE:AES) announced on Monday that it had
commenced a public offering of 40,000,000 shares of its common
stock (excluding the underwriters' over-allotment option). The
underwriters of the offering will have an option to purchase an
additional 6,000,000 shares to cover over-allotments.

The joint book-running managers for the offering will be Banc of
America Securities LLC and Lehman Brothers.

AES is obligated to use $162.5 million of the net proceeds from
the offering to repay (i) $75 million of the secured equity-
linked loan due 2004 issued by AES New York Funding LLC and (ii)
$87.5 million of its tranche C term loan facility under its
senior secured credit facilities due 2005 (the "Senior Secured
Credit Facilities"). AES is also obligated to use one half of the
net proceeds from this offering in excess of $162.5 million to
repay its obligations under its Senior Secured Credit Facilities
other than its revolving credit facility. AES may seek a waiver
to postpone or eliminate its obligations to prepay its Senior
Secured Credit Facilities (including its tranche C term loan
facility) with the proceeds of this offering as it is also
exploring the possibilities of refinancing its Senior Secured
Credit Facilities with new facilities. AES intends to use any net
proceeds remaining from this offering (after it makes any
required prepayments) for general corporate purposes. This may
include potential repayment or repurchases of its debt although
it has not yet identified which debt it would repay or
repurchase.

The shelf registration statement under which these securities
will be offered has been filed with, and declared effective by,
the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). Printed copies of
the prospectus supplement relating to the offering may also be
obtained, when available, from Banc of America Securities LLC, or
Lehman Brothers.

CONTACT:  Banc of America Securities LLC
          100 West 33rd Street, Third Floor
          New York, NY 10001
          Phone: 646.733.4166
          Fax: 212-230-8540
             or
          Lehman Brothers
          c/o ADP Financial Services
          Integrated Distribution Services
          1155 Long Island Avenue
          Edgewood, NY 11717
          Phone: 631-254-7106
          Fax: 631-254-7268
          Email: niokioh_wright@adp.com


GERDAU: Analyst Says Gerdau Could Save US$38.3 Million on Merger
----------------------------------------------------------------
Katia Brollo of Unibanco's equity research department said that
an operations merger between Brazilian long steelmaking group
Gerdau and its subsidiary Acominas could result in BRl109 million
(US$38.2 million) in savings for former.

Business News Americas quoted Ms. Brollo as saying, "It is worth
emphasizing that the operation is not known, and we are basing
the calculation on the presumption that 100 percent of the tax
liabilities involved will be absorbed. And we are still not
taking into consideration synergy gains."

Ms. Brollo pointed out that the parent company could save on
taxes, as Acominas' sale of billets to Gerdau will no longer be
considered a sale. Furthermore, a merger would allow the
companies to accommodate products in different plants according
to market needs better, she said.

The report added that another potential advantage would be a
consolidating of purchase of inputs.

Recently, the Gerdau announced that it is studying a
restructuring of Acominas and merging it with the parent company.
Results are on the study are expected to in two months.

The analyst said that Gerdau could integrate Acominas operations
in two ways: one is to offer some of its shares in exchange for
the stock held by Acominas' minority investors, or integrate
Acominas' profit-generating assets as a way to take better
advantage of accumulated tax liabilities.

At present, Gerdau holds 78.9 percent of Acominas' total capital,
and operates 23 plants in Brazil, U.S.A. Canada, Argentina, Chile
and Uruguay.

CONTACT:  Osvaldo B. Schirmer
          Executive Vice-President
          Investor Relations Director

          Press Office +55(51) 3323-2170
          Email: imprensa@gerdau.com.br
          Home Page: www.gerdau.com.br


VESPER: Bidders for Qualcomm Affiliate Now Number Four
------------------------------------------------------
There are now four bidders wooing U.S. CDMA chipset developer,
Qualcomm, for its Brazilian fixed wireless operator, Vesper,
reports Agencia Estado, citing Qualcomm do Brasil CEO Valerijonas
Seivalos.

The American parent is selling the local affiliate after Brazil's
local telecom regulator refused to allow the company to use its
1900MHz, fixed wireless network to offer mobile services.  The
company said this prohibition seriously undermined its business
model.

Qualcomm controls Vesper through its 86% stake.  The report did
not identify the four bidders.

CONTACT:  Julie Cunningham, Sr. Vice President
          Investor Relations of QUALCOMM
          Tel: +1-858-658-4224
          Fax: +1-858-651-9303
          Email: juliec@qualcomm.com



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ENAMI: Congress to Tackle Ventanas Plant Transfer this Week
-----------------------------------------------------------
The bill approving the transfer of Enami's Ventanas copper
smelting plant to Codelco will soon be sent to Congress, said
Mining Minister Alfonso Dulanto last week.

The value of the deal involving the two state-owned companies
will be disclosed any time this week, according to South American
Business Information, citing the minister, who also disclosed
that Codelco's valuation of Ventanas will be completed Friday.

Enami's US$500 million debt repayment plan depends on the
execution of this transaction, the newswire said.

CONTACT:  ENAMI (Empresa Nacional de Mineria)
          MacIver 459,
          Santiago, Chile
          Phone: 637 52 78
                 637 50 00
          Fax:   637 54 52
          Email: webmaster@enami.cl
          Home Page: www.enami.cl/
          Contact:
          Jorge Rodriguez Grossi, President


INVERLINK: Inverlink Chief Paid Santander Exec to Commit Fraud
--------------------------------------------------------------
Chilean newspaper El Mercurio reports that Eduardo Monasterio,
owner of intervened financial services group Inverlink, paid
former Santander Santiago account executive Claudio Novoa CLP150
million (US$210,000) to commit illegal activities at the bank.

Presently, Mr. Monasterio and other Inverlink officials who are
accused of theft and fraud are held in jail.

Mr. Novoa was dismissed from his position and charged for
allegedly stealing two checks worth $14 million from the bank.
The checks reportedly belong to Inverlink's life insurer, Le Mans
Desarollo.

Inverlink went into receivership in March after authorities
uncovered a web of fraud and espionage. Inverlink executives
stand accused of spying on the central bank, stealing US$95
million in CDs from industrial development agency Corfo, and
engaging in illegal transactions between group subsidiaries.


TELEFONICA CTC: Rates Decision Panel Completion Looks Likely
------------------------------------------------------------
Telefonica CTC Chile and the country's telecoms regulator Subtel
have come to terms on the third member of the three-man panel
that will rule on CTC's tariff decree for 2004-2008.

Reports indicate that the ongoing rates war between the
government and CTC seems to be going in favor of the latter as
the new member, Patricio Rojas, a member of the antimonopoly
commission, is known to be in favor of grater rate-setting
flexibility for the Company.

The panel's third member was supposed to be a neutral party CTC
and the government agreed on, but both sides failed to come to
terms on the issue. In the end, they decided to have the lottery
instead.

Mr. Rojas was randomly chosen from four candidates. The Company
and the regulator each nominated two candidates.

The two parties have already assigned the panels first members.
CTC chose Clinica Indisa chairman Juan Antonio Guzman, who was an
executive at electricity generator Gener when it was chaired by
CTC chairman Bruno Philippi, while Subtel decided on Mario
Waissbluth, CEO of the Invertec IGT consulting group, reports
Business News Americas.

In recent years, the government and the Company had numerous
conflicts regarding tariff decree, resulting a number of
administrative recourses on the part of the CTC and a US$274
million lawsuit against the government.

Earlier, CTC lost its status as a dominant operator in two-thirds
of the country's district following a ruling by the antimonopoly
commission.

CONTACT:  TELEFONICA CTC CHILE
          Gisela Esobar, gescoba@ctc.cl
          Ver›nica Gaete, vgaete@ctc.cl
          M.Jos, Rodr­guez, mjrodri@ctc.cl
          Florencia Acosta, macosta@ctc.cl
          Tel: 562-691-3867
          Fax: 562-6912392



===================================
D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C
===================================

BANCO INTERCONTINENTAL: Attracts Serious Bid from Scotiabank
------------------------------------------------------------
Canadian financial group, Scotiabank, is reportedly deep in
negotiations regarding a possible takeover of Banco
Intercontinental, the ailing local financier hounded by
allegations of massive fraud.

In a press conference recently, Central Bank Chairman Jose Lois
Malkun confirmed these negotiations, calling it a positive
development that will certainly calm the nerves of investors and
remove the uncertainty over the banking sector.

"Until negotiations are concluded we are not prepared to provide
more information and it is too early to determine whether any
definitive agreement will be reached," an unnamed Scotiabank
insider told Business News Americas when sought for details.

The Central Bank took over BanInter after it became apparent
during sale negotiations with Banco Dominicano de Progreso that
it had conducted long-term fraudulent operations.  The scandal
gained international prominence when President Hipolito Mejia,
hoping to get an economic rescue package, sought the U.S.
Treasury's help to clean up the local financial system.


BANCO INTERCONTINENTAL: IT Unit Latest to Fall Into Govt Hands
--------------------------------------------------------------
Another member of the Banco Intercontinental Group was taken over
by authorities for violations under Article 9 of Law 72-02 of the
money laundering legislation, DR1 Daily News reported recently.

Aster, the latest unit seized by authorities, provides cable and
Internet services.  Businessman Rafael Marino Pena Ventura has
been appointed interim administrator of the firm.  He assured
employees and customers that the company will continue to operate
and provide existing services.

Sought for comments, lawyers of the three bank executives
currently held for alleged involvement in a US$2.2 billion fraud
questioned the move, in particular the procedure used by
authorities.  They claim the information on which District
Attorney Maximo Aristy Caraballo based his decision to takeover
the unit had not yet been passed on to Judge Eduardo Sanchez.

Meanwhile, the probe into what led to the demise of the group is
still ongoing.  Last week, Judge Sanchez grilled three more bank
officials, namely: Mario Davalos, who coordinates the Baninter
administration committee formed in the wake of its collapse; and
Jaak Rannik and Simon Roig, members of Baninter's board of
directors.

The bank caved in under the weight of huge losses that equaled
two-thirds the country's annual budget.  A major portion of these
losses originated from an unsupervised unit established in 1989
to use deposits to purchase companies linked to company
executives and forgive millions of dollars in bad loans.
Baninter officials later ordered staff to erase all bad or secret
loan records, TCR-Latin America said.


BANCREDITO: Central Bank Says Group Is Solvent
----------------------------------------------
The Central Bank says Banco Nacional de Credito is just a victim
of malicious rumors, adding that the bank is very much solvent.

Despite this, the Central Bank has still endorsed the bank's sale
to Banco Profesional owned by the E Leon Jimenes group.  Central
Bank Governor Jose Lois Malkum told DR1 Daily News last week this
was the only way to avoid the bank's collapse. According to the
paper, the Central Bank has already injected RD$3 billion into
Bancredito, which has been hit by massive withdrawal since the
nasty rumors started circulating.

Bancredito is the latest bank to threaten the local banking
industry.  Two months ago, the collapse of Baninter under the
weight of a RD$55 billion loss, allegedly incurred through
massive fraud, badly shattered confidence in the sector.



=============
E C U A D O R
=============

PETROECUADOR: Fails To Restart Pipeline After Technical Problems
----------------------------------------------------------------
Ecuador state oil company Petroecuador failed to restart
operations at its Sote pipeline after strikers closed it down on
Sunday. Early on Monday, Pumping stations 4 and 5 in the Andes
Mountains reported "operating problems" and the poor condition of
the roads was reportedly blamed for the delay of repairs.

Business News Americas reports that it is not clear what the
problems were and how they occurred.

Before it was shut down on Sunday, the pipeline was transporting
about 200,000 barrels a day, which is only one-half of its
capacity as striking workers refused to deliver light crude,
which is needed to transport heavy crude through the pipeline, to
private companies.

Petroecuador production has suffered since the strike began last
Monday. The shortage can be felt at Quito and Guayaquil, where
vehicles line up at the few gas stations that remain open.

The strike was staged in protest of the Energy Ministry's
proposal that association contracts be offered to private
companies. The strikers are demanding the resignation of Minister
Carlos Arboleda and higher wages.



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

ATSI COMMUNICATIONS: Announces Partnership in Mexico
----------------------------------------------------
In a press release, ATSI Communications, Inc. (a Delaware
Corporation) (ATSI) (OTC: ATSC) on Monday announced it has
finalized an agreement to sell 51% interest of its Mexican
subsidiary, ATSI Comunicaciones, S.A. de C.V. (ATSICOM) which
holds a long distance concession. ATSI will retain the remaining
49% as allowed under foreign ownership rules. The purchase was
made by a group of Mexican investors headed by the Bunt family.
The Bunt family is also a principal in a U.S. based international
carrier, Dialmex, LLC.

Under the terms of the agreement, ATSI and the Mexican investor
group will jointly develop a VoIP network under the auspices of
the concession as well as pursue additional interconnection
agreements and business opportunities in Mexico. As partners ATSI
and Dialmex will combine their respective interconnection
agreements, creating a robust terminating field with a highly
competitive cost structure for both companies to utilize. Dialmex
operates a highly sophisticated Cisco based VoIP network and was
recently named to Entrepreneur Magazine's Hot 100 List of Fastest
Growing Businesses in the United States, ranking Eleventh.

Ruben R. Caraveo, Vice President of Sales and Operations stated,
"Combining our 30 year long distance concession and expertise in
the Mexican telecommunications market, along with Dialmex's next
generation network will result in ATSI making significant strides
in lowering costs, and creating a licensed and reliable choice
for ATSI's customers. Although we continue to face a challenging
environment in our industry, the timing of this transaction comes
about at an opportune time considering the recent regulatory
changes regarding unlicensed terminating routes in the Mexican
marketplace." Under the agreement with Dialmex, ATSI will be able
to restart its carrier services business immediately.

Raymond G. Romero, Interim CEO and J. Christopher Cuevas, Interim
CFO have both resigned from the company to pursue other
interests. Arthur L. Smith has been named CEO and has rejoined
the Board of Directors of ATSI and Antonio Estrada, ATSI's
Corporate Controller, has assumed the responsibilities of the
former CFO. The company's management team plans to bring its SEC
filings up to date, enabling it to expand its options as it
pertains to its stock exchange listing. The company has also
significantly improved its cost and expense structure in recent
months by reducing overhead and continuing to control expenses.
As part of its effort to control expenses, the Company will
communicate with shareholders through its web site and SEC
filings.

In addition, the company announced that ATSI's two Texas
operating subsidiaries ATSI Communications, Inc. (a Texas
corporation) and TeleSpan, Inc. (a Texas corporation) that
previously filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection have been converted to cases under Chapter 7.

ATSI Communications, Inc. is an emerging international carrier
serving the rapidly expanding niche markets in and between Latin
America and the United States, primarily Mexico. ATSI has clear
advantages over the competition through its unique foreign
license, interconnection service agreements and strategic
partnerships.

CONTACT: ATSI Communications, Inc.
          Email: investors@atsi.net
          Home Page: http://www.atsi.net


BANRURAL: New World Bank-funded Agency to Replace Bankrupt Bank
---------------------------------------------------------------
The seed money for the Rural Finance Agency, which will replace
failed, state-owned bank, Banrural, will come from the World
Bank, according to Bloomberg.

The newswire said a US$505 million loan to jumpstart the
operations of the new development bank is being contemplated by
the executive board of the World Bank.  The financial assistance
will reportedly be tied to the performance of the agency and to
laws requiring greater accountability to ensure it doesn't repeat
Banrural's mistakes.

Unlike its failed predecessor, the new financial agency's budget
will be sourced from the government and not from deposits.  It
will be required to report periodically to Congress and lend to
low- and middle-income rural producers, according to World Bank
documents.

Pundits claim the establishment of the new agency is just part of
a political strategy to benefit President Vicente Fox's party in
the mid-term congressional elections next month.  Economists,
meanwhile, criticize Mr. Fox for setting up a new agency without
holding anyone responsible for Banrural's failure.  Huge loans
granted to farmers that were rarely repaid led to Banrural's
collapse.  The government had to spend MXN38 billion last year to
settle the bank's bad debts.


CFE: To Get More Banks Involved In Payment Program
--------------------------------------------------
Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico's state power company is
about to sign up two more banks to its bill-paying program,
reports Business News Americas without naming the concerned
banks.

Citing a company statement, BNAmericas added that one of the two
banks will allow clients to make online payments. Presently,
CFE's scheme includes three banks accepting payments for CFE
power bills. Other banks have also expressed interest in the
matter.

This year, the three bank's participation reached 7.2 percent
(MXP3.81 billion) of the total payments to CFE. Last year, the
program accounts for 6.3 percent of CFE payments.

Furthermore, CFE has developed a "production chain" program that
assists its supplier secure loans by publishing the exact dates
and amounts CFE pays them, enabling them to guarantee receivables
when requesting credit.

BNAmericas relates that a total of 1445 suppliers have signed up
for this program with 881 signing up this year alone.

CONTACT:  COMISION FEDERAL DE ELECTRICIDAD
          Rio Rodano 14, Col. Cuauhtemoc
          06598 Mexico, D.F., Mexico
          Phone: +52-55-5229-4400
          Fax: +52-55-5310-4614
          Home Page: http://www.cfe.gob.mx
          Contacts:
          Alfredo Elias Ayub, General Director
          Arturo Hernandez Alvarez, Director of Operations
          Francisco J. Santoyo Vargas, Director of Finance


GRUPO TMM: Announces Formation of Bondholder Committee
------------------------------------------------------
Grupo TMM, S.A. (NYSE:TMM)(BMV:TMM A), announced on Monday that,
with the company's support, an informal committee of holders of
its 9 1/2 percent Senior Notes due 2003 and 10 1/4 percent Senior
Notes due 2006 (the "Notes") has been formed. The law firm of
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has been retained to represent
the committee. The financial and legal advisors of Grupo TMM and
the advisors of the holders of the Notes will meet in the near
future. Holders of the Notes wishing to join the informal
committee should contact Michael Stamer of Akin Gump at (212)
872-1025 or at mstamer@akingump.com.

Headquartered in Mexico City, Grupo TMM is a Latin America's
multimodal transportation company. Through its branch offices and
network of subsidiary companies, Grupo TMM provides a dynamic
combination of ocean and land transportation services. Grupo TMM
also has a significant interest in TFM, which operates Mexico's
Northeast railway and carries over 40 percent of the country's
rail cargo.

CONTACT:  Grupo TMM
          Jacinto Marina
          Phone: 011-525-55-629-8790
          Email: jacinto.marina@tmm.com.mx

          Brad Skinner (Investor Relations)
          Phone: 011-525-55-629-8725
          Email: brad.skinner@tmm.com.mx
             or
          Dresner Corporate Services
          Kristine Walczak (general investors, analysts and
media)
          Phone: 312/726-3600
          Email: kwalczak@dresnerco.com
             or
          Proa Structura
          Marco Provencio
          Phone: 011-525-55-629-8758
          Email: mp@proa.structura.com.mx

          Home Page: www.grupotmm.com

          GRUPO TFM
          Home Page: www.tfm.com.mx


TV AZTECA: Bear Stearns Lowers Share Recommendation
---------------------------------------------------
Bear Stearns said on Monday that it lowered its recommendation on
shares of TV Azteca S.A. to `underperform' from `peer perform' on
concerns that its chairman, Ricardo Salinas Pliego plans to buy
indebted mobile operator Grupo Iusacell S.A. de C.V., reports Dow
Jones Newswires.

Mr. Salinas is offering to buy Iusacell through his paging
company, Movil@ccess for $10 million, plus the assumption of
debt. Analysts are wary of the investment, as it was known that
TV Azteca has paid for part of another of Mr. Salinas'
investments, Unefon's debt.

Bear Stearns analyst Christopher Recouso comments, "With the
Salinas Group's bid for Iusacell, we believe TV Azteca's
controlling shareholder is in effect "doubling down on its
attempt to become a major participant in Mexico's telephony
market.

Mr. Recouso added that he would not surprised if Unefon and
Iusacell are merged, once Iusacell's debt is restructured,
although the Salinas Group denies plans of merging the two.


TV AZTECA: Will Not Bail Out Iusacell, Says Executive
-----------------------------------------------------
TV Azteca S.A. chief executive Pedro Padilla said that his
company will not bail out Grupo Iusacell S.A after it defaulted
on $350 million in bonds. Bloomberg reports that the executive is
trying to reassure stock and bondholders who are worried that the
company will have to shoulder part of Iusacell's debt.

TV Azteca's share recommendation has been lowered both by Bear
Stearns and Merill Lynch following the Iusacell acquisition. Mr.
Padilla said that Iusacell will renegotiate its debt without help
of TV Azteca.

"Some people are betting TV Azteca is going to put money into
this but I can confirm that we are not," said Mr. Padilla.

"We have a clear destination for our money and our money is going
to be used to amortize debt and pay dividends," the executive
added.

Hector Romero, investor relations spokesman for Grupo Salinas
said that Ricardo Salinas, owner of the group, has no plans of
merging Iusacell, which he bought from Verizon Communications
Inc., and Vodafone Group Plc and Unefon in the near future.

TV Azteca shares, which declined 6 percent following the Iusacell
acquisition, fell 3.0 percent, or 11 centavos, to 3.96 pesos at
1:02 p.m. on the Mexico City exchange, said the report.


TV AZTECA: Merrill Lynch Downgrades Recommendation on Iusacell
--------------------------------------------------------------
Merrill Lynch lowered its share recommendation on Mexican media
group TV Aztesa from "neutral" to "sell", reports Reuters News
citing concerns chairman Ricardo Salinas will rely on the Company
to fund the purchase of mobile operator Iusacell.

"Given this increased risk, we no longer feel comfortable
recommending TZA shares to investors," Merrill Lynch said on
Friday. TV Azteca also shoulders part mobile operator Unefon's
liabilities.

"Given Iusacell's inability to service its debt and TV Azteca's
history of financing other Salinas ventures, we believe that
there is risk that TZA's cash flow is directed towards this
business," said Merrill Lynch adding that it views the most
likely outcome of the purchase would be an Iusacell-Unefon
merger. Merrill Lynch believes that TV Azteca may also have a
stake in a merger, as it owns 46.5 percent of Unefon.

Recently, Mr. Salinas announced a public tender offer includes
for Iusacell through paging company Movil@ccess. The offer
includes assuming Iusacell's US$815 million debt load.

CONTACT:  TV AZTECA, S.A. DE C.V.
          Investor Relations:
          Bruno Rangel
          Phone: +011-5255-3099-9167
          Email: jrangelk@tvazteca.com.mx
             or
          Omar Avila
          Phone: +011-5255-3099-0041
          Email: oavila@tvazteca.com.mx
             or
          Media Relations:
          Tristan Canales
          Phone: +1-5255-3099-5786
          Email: tcanales@tvazteca.com.mx

          Home Page: http://www.tvazteca.com.mx


UNEFON: Ends Legal Dispute with Nortel; Inks New Supply Deal
------------------------------------------------------------
The legal spat between Mexican mobile phone operator, Unefon, and
Canadian equipment supplier, Nortel Networks, is over, according
to Reuters.

The newswire said both companies have already reached an
agreement to settle their differences, including the payment of
$43 million by Unefon to Nortel.  To recall, Unefon last year
instituted legal action against Nortel for $900 million in losses
and damages, alleging failure to comply with terms of a financing
deal.

Unefon, on the other hand, defaulted on a $6 million interest
payment to Nortel.  The Mexican firm was in the process of
seeking a restructuring of its $350 million- debt to Nortel when
relations between parties soured resulting in separate lawsuits.

"Nortel Networks and Unefon have agreed to cease all litigation,
to withdraw all legal action between the parties, to sign a new
supply contract as well as the reduction and restructuring of
debt," Unefon said in a statement released Monday.



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

BWIA: Board Appoints Two General Managers To Head Airline
---------------------------------------------------------
BWIA West Indies Airways recently announced the appointment of
two General Managers to head the Management Team following the
departure of President and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Conrad
Aleong.

Mr. Nelson Tom Yew, a veteran BWIA executive and former General
Manager of Tobago Express, has been named General Manager -
Corporate. Mr. Tom Yew will be the senior of the two General
Managers and is also the Accountable Manager to represent the
airline to all statutory and regulatory bodies.

Mr. Paul Schtz, an airline professional with significant
experience earned at Ryanair and British Airways and in his
former position as Chief Financial Officer at BWIA, has been
named General Manager - Operations

Both General Managers will individually report to the Board of
Directors and will jointly oversee the various functions of the
airline. As the single largest shareholder of Tobago Express, the
Board of Directors of BWIA has also named Captain Fitzroy
Wellington to replace Mr. Tom Yew for this interim period as
General Manager of Tobago Express with immediate effect.

CONTACT:  BRITISH WEST INDIES AIRWAYS
          Phone: + 868 627 2942
          E-mail: mail@bwee.com
          Home Page: http://www.bwee.com/


BWIA: Workers Agree To Benefits Cut, But Not To Pay Cut
-------------------------------------------------------
Workers at cash-strapped airline British West Indies Airways
(BWIA) agreed to accept a reduction on their benefits, but not
the poposed pay cuts order to save the airline, reports the
Trinidad Express, citing Aviation, Communications and Allied
Workers Union (Acawu) president Christopher Abraham.

The decision was reached after the Acawu, known to represent
majority of BWIA's workers, met with other unions and about 200
of the airline's staff members on Thursday.

The union leader did not indicate which of the benefits the
workers had agreed to be reduced, but said that it covers a "wide
area."

Meanwhile, the airline's top managers have given their consent to
a 10-15 percent reduction on their salaries effective July 1.
This comes after a 5 percent pay cut last September.

BWIA seeks to reduce operation costs as it struggles to meet the
government's demands towards $116.8 million in aid. The airline
is asked to lower its operating expenses per seat mil by 20
percent.

Recently, the government saved the airline from falling into the
hands of its creditors after it failed to pay the lease on
airplanes leased from the International Lease Finance
Corporation.


BWIA: Executive To Meet With Workers' Union in Antigua
------------------------------------------------------
BWIA Vice President of Employee Service Hugh Henderson will meet
with the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union, which represents its
employees in Antigua, to discuss a number of "outstanding
matters."

The union's General Secretary David Massiah said, "they are
coming to meet with us and we are preparing ourselves."

BWIA Area Manager Gatesworth James also confirmed Mr. Henderson's
scheduled meeting. Among the matters to be discussed is the
airline's proposal to reduce wages by as much as 15 percent.

The Antigua Sun reports that workers in St. John's are worried
that they might be on the breadline.

BWIA's Employee and Industrial Relations Manager sent emails to
the airline's workers saying the airline needs to take "decisive
measures" to ensure its survival. These measures include a 5 to
15 percent salary cut for a period of 12 months and substantial
flight reductions.


CARONI: Ag Minister Confident in Industrial Court Ruling
--------------------------------------------------------
Trinidad and Tobago Agriculture Minister John Rahael is confident
that the Industrial Court will rule in favor of state sugar
company Caroni (1975) Ltd. because it would be "in the interest
of the workers."

Mr. Rahael said that if the Court rules in favor of the All
Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union, the government
would have to consider the worker's jobs redundant, reports the
Trinidad Express.

The government official said the VSEP package "is the best that
has ever been offered to the people of Trinidad and Tobago."

Meanwhile, Rudy Indarsigh, President-general of the ATSGWU
accused Mr. Rahael of using scare tactics on the workers. He said
that all the union is asking for is a meeting to determine if the
benefits stipulated in the Voluntary Separation of Employment
Plan (VSEP) could be improved.

The union successfully obtained an injunction preventing the
government from promoting the VSEP and treating workers who have
accepted the offer as terminated.

The report indicates that some 5,000 of the 9,000 daily paid
workers who accepted the VSEP. Another 2,000 of the monthly-paid
staff did the same.

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

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



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

PDVSA: Won't Re-Hire Dismissed Workers
--------------------------------------
Some 17,000 PDVSA employees who participated in the two-month
general strike to seek the ouster of President Hugo Chavez were
barred from reporting to work beginning Monday, EFE News said.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez likened the fired employees to the
terrorists who slammed two planes into the World Trade Center
nearly two years ago, adding that rehiring them "would be an
absurdity similar [to renewing a 9/11 hijacker's pilot's license]
had any of them survived."

"[These workers] were penalized as specified by the Labor Law, as
a direct consequence of abandoning their jobs and engaging in the
sabotage that paralyzed the industry and caused losses in excess
of $7 billion," Mr. Ramirez said over state-owned Venezolana de
Television.

The report did not say whether top executives and several tanker
captains, who joined the walkout that began early December, were
among those fired.


PDVSA: Brit Businessmen Show Interest in Venezuelan Oil, Gas
------------------------------------------------------------
"PetrĒleos de Venezuela is making available numerous `upstream'
business opportunities to private national and international
investors in the areas of development on land and on the Atlantic
and Caribbean continental Platform, as well as in gas projects
and `downstream', in refining and refinery-stream
industrialization", according to Luis Vierma, Venezuelan Deputy
Minister of Hydrocarbons and Director of PDVSA. He spoke at a
business conference hosted by Venezuela's national energy
corporation and the country's Embassy in the United Kingdom, for
business, financial and diplomatic representatives in London.

"We have a special interest in channeling the enthusiasm of
British businessmen so that they, in association with Venezuelan
businessmen, can establish a supply chain in Venezuela directed
to meet the needs of the oil and gas development to be undertaken
in the Venezuelan continental platform, particularly those
projects going forward in the eastern region, such as the gas
projects in the Deltana Platform and Mariscal Sucre (LNG), these
being similar to the experience so successfully gained by the
Aberdeen Offshore Supply Office in North Sea developments."

The Deputy Minister added "the sustained interest shown by
private national and international investors in the Venezuelan
hydrocarbons sector is based on the country's clear and coherent
legal framework in force today".

Venezuelan laws contemplate the possibility of business ventures
that bring together national and international companies as a way
of strengthening national capital formation, in tune with the
guidelines laid down by the Executive through the Ministry of
Energy and Mines.

Vierma explained that this legal framework includes modern legal
instruments, such as the country's Constitution, the Hydrocarbons
Law (liquids), the Gaseous Hydrocarbons Law (non-associated gas),
bilateral agreements to avoid double taxation, the Investment
Protection and Promotion Law, the Special Law to Promote the
Development of Petrochemical and Coal Industry Activities, and
Presidential Decree 2,532 on the Industrialization of Methane and
Ethane.

"For the first time in the history of the Venezuelan petroleum
industry, the opportunity to do business in the `upstream'
exploration and production of liquid hydrocarbons is being opened
to the national and international private sector, with shares of
up to 49%. Similarly, private participation can reach 100% in
`downstream' activities, as well as in the gas, coal and
petrochemicals sectors", Vierma said.

The interest shown by the international private sector in the
PetrĒleos de Venezuela business portfolio remains firm. In this
sense, the Deputy Minister of Hydrocarbons and PDVSA Director
stressed that "more than 50 companies from 18 countries are
taking part today in the Venezuelan oil industry. Additionally,
the recent awarding of licenses for offshore gas exploration and
production (Deltana Platform) to international companies from the
United States (Chevron/Texaco) and the Kingdom of Norway
(Statoil), as well as to the consortium made up by Shell,
Mitsubishi and PDVSA to undertake the Mariscal Sucre project
(LNG), underlines the fact that Venezuela is an attractive and
reliable country in which to do business."

"As regards exploration, the expectations of offshore discoveries
are in the order of 20.5 billion barrels of crude and 82 trillion
cubic feet of gas", Vierma affirmed. Among the areas on land open
to private capital participation are: Franquera, HorcĒn, North
Dome, South Dome, GuaranĄ, South Lake and Ceuta-Tomoporo in the
western region, as well as Capiricual and Pato in the east of the
country."

Venezuela's crude oil reserves total 313 billion barrels (78
billion barrels of conventional reserves and 235 billion barrels
of extra-heavy crude in the Orinoco Belt). This is equivalent to
almost half of the Middle East countries' total reserves,
estimated at 676 billion barrels. Additionally, 148 trillion
cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves are also found in
Venezuelan territory, a volume which could reach more than 440
trillion cubic feet, if the reserves in new areas, including the
offshore accumulations, were effectively added.

Concerning the applicable fiscal regime, Luis Vierma pointed out
that "the laws are clear and simple, thereby guaranteeing maximum
transparency. The Hydrocarbons Law establishes a 50% income tax
and a 30% royalty, which can be reduced to 20% for a mature
field, while for the production of bitumen from the Orinoco Belt,
the royalty has been placed at 16 2/3%. In the case of natural
gas, the Gaseous Hydrocarbons Law set income tax at 30% and
royalty at 20%.

On closing, the Venezuelan oil official reiterated that: "PDVSA
is a secure supplier of energy that is competitive, reliable and
sustainable in the long term. It has been strengthening its ties
with the nation and its public policies on oil and gas. An
example of this is the national capital formation initiative,
dedicated to promoting the vigorous growth of the country's
private oil sector. At the same time, the Corporation has
consolidated its position as a socially responsible company,
fully conscious of its capacity and obligation to contribute to
Venezuela's development and well-being."


               ***********


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
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