TCRLA_Public/031223.mbx         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

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

          Tuesday, December 23, 2003, Vol. 4, Issue 253

                          Headlines


A R G E N T I N A

ALTO BELGRANO: Court Rules on Bankruptcy Proceeding
ARTES GRAFICAS: Receiver Verifies Claims in Bankruptcy Process
CABILDO FOTO EXPRESS: Court Declares Company Bankrupt
CLAXSON: Argentine Fitch Rates US$44M of Bonds `CC(arg)'
CONSULTORES INTEGRALES: Bankruptcy Initiated on Court Orders

CTECSAC: General Report Expected at Court Today
DROGUERIA MAGNA: Local Moody's Gives US$5M Bonds `C' Rating
EMPRESARIOS TRANSPORTE: Court OK's Reorganization Petition
GRUPO AUT: Court Orders Bankruptcy
LUSMAR: Voluntarily Files for Bankruptcy

MASAY: Bankruptcy Approved by Court
MASTELLONE HERMANOS: Moody's Assigns Default Ratings to Bonds
RED FONICA: Court Approves Reorganization Petition
TOP STAFF: Court Declares Company Bankrupt
TRAVELCLUB: Proof of Claims Process to End March 3 Next Year


B E R M U D A

TK ALUMINUM: S&P May Cut 'B+' Long Term Corporate Credit Rating


B R A Z I L

BANCO SANTOS: Fitch Downgrades Individual Ratings to `D/E'
GERDAU: Initiates Senior Notes Exchange Offer


C H I L E

ENDESA: Fitch Revises Outlook To Stable


C O L O M B I A

BANCAFE: Draws Seven Bidders to Pre-Qualification Process


D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

BANCO POPULAR DOMINICANO: C por A Downgraded; Ratings Withdrawn
TRICOM: Secures US$10 Million Financing


G U Y A N A

* IMF, WB Support US$334M Additional Debt Aid for Guyana


M E X I C O

PRECISION: Files for Chapter 11 Protection
TV AZTECA: Shareholders Approve Unefon Split-Off


     - - - - - - - - - -

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

ALTO BELGRANO: Court Rules on Bankruptcy Proceeding
---------------------------------------------------
Argentine company Alto Belgrano S.A. enters bankruptcy on orders
from Buenos Aires Court No. 18. Local news portal Infobae reports
that Clerk No. 35 assists the court on the case, which will close
with the liquidation of the Company's assets.

In order to qualify for payments, the creditors must file their
claims before April 20, 2004. The court-appointed receiver, Mr.
Osvaldo Nicolini, will validate claims and prepare the individual
and general reports.

CONTACT:  Alto Belgrano S.A.
          Olleros 1800
          Buenos Aires

          Osvaldo Nicolini
          Alvarez Thomas 3036
          Buenos Aires


ARTES GRAFICAS: Receiver Verifies Claims in Bankruptcy Process
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Jose Maria Nullo, receiver for Buenos Aires company Artes
Graficas Corin Luna S.A., is verifying creditors' claims for the
Company's bankruptcy process. A report from Argentine news source
Infobae indicates that the deadline for credit verifications
expires on March 22 next year.

Court No. 17, which handles the Company's case, ordered the
receiver to file the individual reports on April 20, 2004. After
these are processed at the court, the receiver will prepare the
general report, which is due for filing on May 18.

The Company's assets will be liquidated at the end of the process
to repay creditors.

CONTACT:  Artes Graficas Corin Luna S.A.
          Humberto I 3221
          Buenos Aires

          Jose Maria Nullo
          Avenida Callao 420
          Buenos Aires


CABILDO FOTO EXPRESS: Court Declares Company Bankrupt
-----------------------------------------------------
Court No. 7 of Buenos Aires declares local company Cabildo Foto
Express S.R.L. "Quiebra", placing the Company under bankruptcy
protection. Argentine news portal Infobae relates that the court
assigned Mr. Jorge Berisso to oversee the bankruptcy process as
the Company's receiver.

Creditors are required to file their claims before March 22,
2004. The receiver will verify claims and prepare the individual
and general reports. Infobae, however, did not mention whether
the court has set the deadlines for the filing of these reports.

Clerk No. 13 assists the court on the case.

CONTACT:  Cabildo Foto Express S.R.L.
          Ave Cabildo 1784
          Buenos Aires

          Jorge Berisso
          Paraguay 866
          Buenos Aires


CLAXSON: Argentine Fitch Rates US$44M of Bonds `CC(arg)'
--------------------------------------------------------
Fitch Argentina Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. issued `CC(arg)'
ratings to bonds issued by Claxson Interactive Group Inc. on
Wednesday. The rating was based on the Company's financial status
as of the end of September 2003.

Argentina's securities regulator, the Comision Nacional de
Valores relates that the bonds were called "Obligaciones
negociables" with undisclosed maturity date. The bonds, worth a
total of US$44.4 million, were classified under "Simple Issue".

Fitch said that the issued rating denotes an extremely weak
credit risk relative to others issues in Argentina. Capacity for
meeting financial commitments is solely reliant upon sustained,
favorable, business or economic conditions.


CONSULTORES INTEGRALES: Bankruptcy Initiated on Court Orders
------------------------------------------------------------
Argentine news portal Infobae reports that local company
Consultores Integrales De Gestion Empresaria S.A. entered
bankruptcy. Buenos Aires Court No. 13 handles the Company's case
with assistance from Clerk No. 25.

The court assigned Mr. Omar Sergio Luis Vazquez, a local
accountant, to oversee the bankruptcy process as the Company's
receiver. He will verify claims until March 3 next year. The
receiver is also required to prepare the individual and general
reports.

CONTACT:  Omar Sergio Luis Vazquez
          Ave Santa Fe 1127
          Buenos Aires


CTECSAC: General Report Expected at Court Today
-----------------------------------------------
The general report for the bankruptcy of Buenos Aires company
Compania de Transporte El Colorado S.A.C. is due for filing at
the court today. The Company's receiver, Ms. Mirta Addario,
prepared the reports after the individual reports were processed
at court.

The receiver has completed the creditor claims verification
process and the individual reports earlier this year. After the
general report is processed at court, the Company's assets will
be liquidated to repay its creditors. Payments will be based on
the results of the validity of claims and amount of assets
remaining as a result of the process.

An earlier report by the Troubled Company Reporter - Latin
America indicated that Buenos Aires Court No. 2 holds
jurisdiction over the case.

CONTACT:  Mirta Addario
          Moreno 442
          Buenos Aires


DROGUERIA MAGNA: Local Moody's Gives US$5M Bonds `C' Rating
-----------------------------------------------------------
A total of US$5 million worth of corporate bonds issued by
Argentine company Drogueria Magna S.A. received junk ratings from
Moody's Latin America Calificadora de Riesgo S.A., relates the
Comision Nacional de Valores, Argentina's securities regulator.

The ratings agency said the `C' rating means that the debt has a
considerable amount of risk for nonpayment. The rating, issued on
Wednesday, was based on the Company's assets as of the end of
September this year.

The bonds were called "Obligaciones Negociables Simples". The
bonds, which matured on April 17, were classified under "Simple
Issue".


EMPRESARIOS TRANSPORTE: Court OK's Reorganization Petition
----------------------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires Court No. 9 approved a motion for "Concurso
Preventivo" filed by local company Empresarios Transporte
Automotor De Pasajeros S.A., relates local news portal Infobae.
The Company will undergo reorganization.

Estudio Cupito y Asociados was assigned as the Company's
receiver. Creditors must present their claims to the receiver for
verification before March 26, 2004. With assistance from Clerk
No. 18, the court ordered the receiver to file the individual
reports on May 12, 2004, followed by the general report on June
24.

The informative assembly will be held on December 14 next year.
This signals the end of the reorganization process.

CONTACT:  Empresarios Transporte Automotor De Pasajeros S.A.
          Nazarre 3138
          Buenos Aires

          Estudio Cupito y Asociados
          Posadas 1564
          Buenos Aires


GRUPO AUT: Court Orders Bankruptcy
----------------------------------
Buenos Aires company Grupo Aut S.R.L. is declared bankrupt by the
city's Court No. 20. A report from Argentine news portal Infobae
indicates that Clerk No. 40 assists the court on the case. The
credit verification process will end on February 27 next year.

The Company's receiver, Ms. Maria Elena Mercante, will prepare
the individual reports after verifications are completed. Infobae
adds that the individual reports are due at the court on April 14
next year, followed by the general report on May 27.

The Company's assets will be liquidated at the end of the process
to repay creditors. Payments will be based on the results of the
credit verification process.

CONTACT:  Grupo Aut S.R.L.
          Galicia 548
          Buenos Aires

          Maria Elena Mercante
          Uruguay 772
          Buenos Aires


LUSMAR: Voluntarily Files for Bankruptcy
----------------------------------------
Lusmar S.A., which is based in Buenos Aires, voluntarily filed
for bankruptcy. A report from local news portal Infobae indicates
that the city's Court No. 16 is considering the Company's
petition. Clerk No. 32 assists the court on the case.

CONTACT:  Lusmar S.A.
          Ave Cordoba 2448
          Buenos Aires


MASAY: Bankruptcy Approved by Court
-----------------------------------
Argentine company Masay S.A., which was undergoing
reorganization, now enters bankruptcy on orders from Buenos Aires
Court No. 6. Clerk No. 12 assists the court on the case, reports
local news source Infobae.

The court ordered the credit verification to be done "por via
incidental". The receiver, Mr. Luis Benedossi, will file the
individual reports at the court on March 5, 2004. These reports
are prepared after the verification process is completed.

CONTACT:  Luis Benedossi
          Maipu 812
          Buenos Aires


MASTELLONE HERMANOS: Moody's Assigns Default Ratings to Bonds
-------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Latin America Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. assigns default
ratings to a total of US$375 million of corporate bonds issued by
Argentine company Mastellone Hermanos S.A., relates the Comision
Nacional de Valores, Argentina's securities regulator.

The rating, based on the Company's finances as of September 30,
2003, is assigned to bonds that are in payment default, according
to the ratings agency.

The affected bonds included $225 million "Obligaciones
Negociables, autorizadas por AGE de fecha 28.8.97.", due on April
1, 2008. These bonds were classified under "Simple Issue".

The rest of the affected bonds are called "Programa de
Obligaciones Negociables autorizado por AGE de fechas 11 y
23.6.99" with unknown maturity date. These were under "Program".


RED FONICA: Court Approves Reorganization Petition
--------------------------------------------------
Court No. 2 of the Civil and Commercial Court of Rosario in Santa
Fe approves Red Fonica S.A.'s petition for reorganization. The
Court assigned local accountant Alberto Tasca as the Company's
receiver to oversee the process.

The individual reports are due for filing on December 24 this
year. The receiver prepared these reports after the verifications
are completed earlier this year. The general report must be
submitted to the court on March 12, 2004.

The court ordered that the informative assembly, on of the last
parts in a reorganization, be held on July 7 next year.

CONTACT:  Red Fonica S.A.
          Rodriguez Pena 3211
          Rosario, Santa Fe

          Alberto Tasca
          Mitre 1454
          Rosario, Santa Fe


TOP STAFF: Court Declares Company Bankrupt
------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires Court No. 7 declared local company Top Staff S.A.
Acciones promocionales bankrupt, reports Argentine news source
Infobae. Clerk No. 14 assists the court on the case, which will
end with the liquidation of the Company's assets. The source,
however, did not mention whether the court has chosen a receiver
to oversee the case.


TRAVELCLUB: Proof of Claims Process to End March 3 Next Year
------------------------------------------------------------
The credit verification process of the bankruptcy of Argentine
company Travelclub S.A. ends March 3 next year. Creditors are
required to file their claims before the said date in order to
qualify for payments to be made after the Company's assets are
liquidated.

The Company's receiver, Estudio Jose Antonio Calvi¤o, who will
verify creditors' claims, will prepare the individual reports,
which are to be submitted to the court April 14 next year. The
general report should follow on May 27.

CONTACT:  Estudio Jose Antonio Calvi¤o
          Viamonte 1355
          Buenos Aires



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

TK ALUMINUM: S&P May Cut 'B+' Long Term Corporate Credit Rating
---------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Friday it placed its
'B+' long-term corporate credit rating on Bermuda-based aluminum
auto parts manufacturer TK Aluminum Ltd. (TKA) on CreditWatch
with negative implications, due to the likelihood of slower
profit growth in 2004. At the same time, the 'B-' senior
unsecured debt rating on the EUR240 million ($298 million) bond
issued by Teksid Aluminum Luxembourg S.a.r.l, S.C.A. was also
placed on CreditWatch with negative implications.

"The Creditwatch placement follows the group's indication that
EBITDA growth for 2004 might be lower than Standard & Poor's
expectations for the rating, as well as concerns about the
company's ability to remain adequately in compliance with
financial covenants," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst
Martin Amann.

In its review of the CreditWatch status, Standard & Poor's will
focus on:

-- The level of potential divergence between the company's 2004
budget---when completed--and Standard & Poor's expectations of
the company's financial performance in 2004;

-- Examination of whether TKA's financial profile is commensurate
with the current 'B+' rating; and

-- The company's liquidity and financial flexibility status, in
particular with respect to compliance with financial covenants.

The review is expected to be completed within the next three
months.



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

BANCO SANTOS: Fitch Downgrades Individual Ratings to `D/E'
----------------------------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency, downgraded on
Friday Banco Santos S.A.'s (Santos) individual rating to 'D/E'
from 'D', its long-term foreign and local currency ratings to 'B-
' from 'B', long-term national rating to 'BB+(bra)' from 'BBB-
(bra)' and its short-term national rating to 'B(bra)' from
'F3(bra)'.

At the same time Fitch affirmed the short-term foreign and local
currency ratings at 'B' and support rating at '5'. The Rating
Outlook is Stable.

The rating action reflects Fitch's concerns regarding the
deterioration in Santos' exposure to impaired loans over the
first three quarters of 2003 and comparatively low reserve
coverage ratios for loan losses. The agency is also concerned
about the high exposure of equity to unreserved impaired loans in
the context of declining capital ratios, and concentrations on
both sides of the balance sheet. Despite much higher loan loss
provisions, reported profitability has improved on the back of
strong treasury results, but may come under further pressure from
a need to improve reserve coverage and from lower contributions
from treasury activities in a more stable local market
environment.

Santos' impaired loans rose to a high 15.4% of the rated credit
exposure in September 2003, up from 13.9% in June 2003; 12.3% in
March 2003; 7.1% in December 2002; and 3.9% in September 2002,
which resulted principally from a regulatory review by the
Central Bank of Brazil. Unlike most local banks that tend to
exceed regulatory requirements, Santos provisions strictly in
accordance with the Central Bank of Brazil's minimum requirement
and in June 2003, reserves covered a low 36.7% of impaired loans
(Dec02: 37.4%; Jun02: 33.8%).

The deterioration in the profile of the loan portfolio has
demanded increasing provisioning expenses; net provisions
consumed a high 24% of net interest revenue in 1H03, up from
19.8% and 5.7% for the previous two semesters, respectively. A
more appropriate level of reserves given the pace of
deterioration and the potential further migration towards lower
credit risk classifications would require significantly larger
provisioning efforts which would, in turn, pressure profitability
and internal capital generation at a time when Santos' risk
adjusted capital ratios have dropped close to regulatory
minimums. In June 2003, impaired loans, net of existing reserves,
were equivalent to a high 42.1% of equity, up from 22.3% in
December 2002 and 11% in June 2002.

Historically, Santos' shareholder has provided support whenever
necessary and Fitch sees evidence that he continues to do so.
Support is possible but can not be relied upon, since Fitch is
not in a position to assess an individual's capacity to support
the bank. The bank's size and lack of retail operations renders
support from authorities unlikely.

Discussions with management have led Fitch to understand that
Santos' management is taking corrective measures with full
support from the shareholder. Despite these measures, which may
result in some improvement in financial indicators, the credit
profile of the bank is more appropriately mirrored by the new
ratings.

Headquartered in Sao Paulo, Santos is 98.9% controlled by Procid
Participacoes e Negocios Ltda. (Procid), a holding company owned
by Mr. Edemar Cid Ferreira. Santos operates through four branches
in Brazil, in addition to a subsidiary on Madeira Island and two
on the Cayman Islands. In mid-2003, Santos ranked 19th largest
among banks operating in Brazil, by assets, or 24th largest by
equity. Santos specializes in credit transactions backed by
receivables and on-lending of federal government funds. Its
ability to offer efficient services, often through the internet,
has been noteworthy.

CONTACT:  Fitch Ratings
          Peter Shaw
          New York
          Phone: +1-212-908-0553

          Rafael Guedes
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: +55-11-287-3177

          Rita Goncalves
          Rio De Janeiro
          Phone: +55-21-2224-3558

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


GERDAU: Initiates Senior Notes Exchange Offer
---------------------------------------------
Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation (TSX:GNA.TO) announced on Friday
the commencement of an exchange offer to exchange up to
US$405,000,000 aggregate principal amount of registered 10 3/8%
Senior Notes due 2011 (the "Exchange Notes") of Gerdau Ameristeel
Corporation ("Gerdau Ameristeel") and GUSAP Partners (together
with Gerdau Ameristeel, the "Issuers") for the Issuers'
outstanding Notes (the "Existing Notes") which were offered in a
private placement in June 2003. The Issuers received receipts for
the prospectus relating to the exchange offer from the Ontario
Securities Commission dated December 18, 2003 and the U.S.
registration statement became effective today.

The exchange offer is as contemplated in the Registration Rights
Agreement dated June 27, 2003, pursuant to which the Issuers
agreed to register substantially identical Notes, including
unconditional guarantees on the Notes from certain of Gerdau
Ameristeel's subsidiaries, and offer to exchange the registered
Exchange Notes for the Existing Notes.

The Exchange Notes (including the subsidiary guarantees) will
have substantially the same form and terms as the outstanding
Existing Notes, except that the Exchange Notes will be issued
under a prospectus in Ontario and the Exchange Notes and
subsidiary guarantees have been registered under the U.S.
Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and will not be subject to
restrictions on transfer. The Exchange Notes will bear a
different CUSIP number from the Existing Notes. Any Existing Note
not exchanged will continue to have restrictions on transfer.

The Issuers will accept for exchange any and all Existing Notes
that are validly tendered and not withdrawn on or before 5:00
p.m., New York City time, January 23, 2004, unless extended.
Copies of the prospectus and transmittal materials governing the
exchange are in the process of being mailed to noteholders.
Additional copies can be obtained from the Exchange Agent,
SouthTrust Bank, by calling Woodie Alston at (205) 254-4131 or
Candace Miller at (205) 254-5486.

About Gerdau Ameristeel

Gerdau Ameristeel is the second largest minimill steel producer
in North America with annual manufacturing capacity of over 6.8
million tons of mill finished steel products. Through its
vertically integrated network of 11 minimills (including one 50%-
owned minimill), 13 scrap recycling facilities and 26 downstream
operations, Gerdau Ameristeel primarily serves customers in the
eastern half of North America. The company's products are
generally sold to steel service centers, fabricators, or directly
to original equipment manufacturers for use in a variety of
industries, including construction, automotive, mining and
equipment manufacturing. Gerdau Ameristeel's common shares are
traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol GNA.TO.
GUSAP Partners is a partnership formed between Gerdau Ameristeel
and its wholly- owned subsidiary, Gerdau Ameristeel MRM Special
Sections Inc. that was created for the purpose of borrowing and
providing funds to Gerdau Ameristeel and its subsidiaries.



=========
C H I L E
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ENDESA: Fitch Revises Outlook To Stable
---------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings, the international ratings agency, has changed the
Outlook on Endesa S.A.'s (Endesa) ratings to Stable from
Negative. At the same time, the agency affirmed the Senior
Unsecured rating at 'A' and Short-term rating at 'F1'. The
company is Spain's leading electric utility.

Fitch's decision to revise Endesa's rating Outlook to Stable
mainly reflects management's commitment to bring down debt
levels. Reported debt reduced by EUR4.8 billion to EUR18bn in the
first nine months of 2003, primarily due to strong operating cash
flows, divestments totalling EUR2.4bn, and a EUR1.5bn preference
share issue which Fitch treats as equit y-like. Going forward,
Fitch expects the group to be able to maintain leverage (measured
in terms of debt/EBITDA) of close to or below 4x, which is
consistent with the current rating category. In addition to solid
cash flows, this should partly be facilitated by a reduction in
its investment programme, which has become less expansion driven
and particularly emphasises development of its core Spanish
electricity business and its European investments, including
Endesa Italy.

The change in Outlook was also driven by recent adjustments to
the regulatory framework, which is more favourable than Fitch had
originally anticipated. New legislation allowed tariffs to
increase by 1.65% in 2003 and by a maximum of 2% per annum during
2004-2010; the expected tariff increase for 2004 is 1.6%.
Utilities are also allowed to recoup the tariff deficit, as a
result of pool prices reaching levels far beyond expectations:
EUR658m has been allocated to Endesa.

Fitch also notes the successful debt restructuring efforts of its
Latin American electricity operations, the balance sheets of
which had come under pressure during the turmoil that the region
has been facing in recent years. Fitch particularly notes the
capitalisation by Endesa of a USDE1.2 billion inter-company loan
to 62% owned Enersis of Chile, with minority shareholders
contributing an additional USD663m, underlining their confidence
in the future potential of this business. At the 'A' level,
ratings are supported by Endesa's position as the leading
electric utility in Spain (57.2% of 1Q03-3Q03 operating profit),
where it has a 44% market share in generation and distribution.
Demand prospects in Spain are strong and Endesa's well-balanced
generation mix allows for relatively stable cash flows under any
weather conditions. Despite full supply market liberalisation
from January 2003, the major utilities will continue to enjoy
leading market shares in their historic franchises, where they
are still able to benefit from regulated tariffs. Rating
strengths are partly offset by the group's exposure to Latin
America (34.5% of operating profit), where it has significant
market share in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru. With
the exception of Chile, these countries are non-investment grade,
with volatile economies and currencies. The impact of this on the
rating is limited somewhat by the fact that Enersis debt
(EUR5.2bn at end-3Q03) is non-recourse to Endesa, although at the
same time Fitch acknowledges the sizeable investments in the
region. The potential sale of its less stable non-utility
interests, including a 30% stake in Spain's second-largest
telecom operator AUNA, would be seen as a positive factor for the
rating if proceeds are used for debt reduction.

CONTACT:  Erwin van Lumich; Thomas Saul
          Barcelona
          Phone: +34 93 323 8400

          Graeme Marks
          London
          Phone: +44 (0)20 7862 4086

          Francesca Fraulo
          London
          Phone: +44(0)20 7417 4337

          Media Relations:
          Alex Clelland
          London
          Phone: +44 20 7417 4222



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

BANCAFE: Draws Seven Bidders to Pre-Qualification Process
---------------------------------------------------------
At least seven companies have expressed interest in acquiring
intervened Colombian state bank Bancafe, Panamanian newspaper La
Prensa quoted the bank's CEO Alfredo Naranjo as saying. The
executive did not mention names, but said that the participants
of the pre-qualification process are "first rate corporations,
with lots of economic solvency."

Local analysts say that the participants are likely local
players, as many international groups are still wary of
committing investments in the country or in the Latin American
region, reports Business News Americas. Earlier reports indicate
that local Gilinski family and fellow Colombian group Sarmiento
were possible bidders. The World Bank's International Finance
Corporation said earlier this year it might take up a minority
stake in Bancafe to help generate confidence in the
privatization, BNAmericas added.

CSFB and local investment bank Inverlink will oversee the sale,
wile Baker & McKenzie Bogota will oversee the legal side of the
matter. The government has planned to complete the transaction
this month, but delays in the pre-qualification process have
affected the schedule. Mr. Naranjo will step down from his post
on January 15 as part of the sale process.

Colombia's deposit insurance agency Fogafin owns 99.99% of the
bank's equity. BNAmericas notes that the agency has spent about
COL887 billion cleaning up and streamlining Bancafe since it took
over in 1999.

Bancafe, which has offices in Panama and Miami, has 1.5 million
clients and 276 branches.



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

BANCO POPULAR DOMINICANO: C por A Downgraded; Ratings Withdrawn
---------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Friday that it lowered
its long-term local and foreign currency counterparty credit and
CD ratings on Banco Popular Dominicano C por A to 'CCC' from 'B-'
following the downgrade to 'CCC' of the Dominican Republic. The
short-term local and foreign currency counterparty credit ratings
were affirmed at 'C'. At the same time, Standard & Poor's lowered
Banco Popular's survivability assessment to 'B' from 'BB'.

"In a similar action, Standard & Poor's withdrew the ratings and
the survivability assessment on Banco Popular Dominicano at the
bank's request," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Ursula M.
Wilhelm.

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

          David Olivares
          Mexico City
          Phone: (52) 55-5279-2006


TRICOM: Secures US$10 Million Financing
---------------------------------------
Tricom, S.A. (NYSE:TDR) announced on Friday that it has reached
an agreement in principle with a group of existing creditors led
by Mizuho International, PLC, a member of the Mizuho Financial
Group, the world's largest banking group, to obtain a secured $10
million credit facility intended to provide liquidity financing
to the Company while it pursues a financial restructuring plan.

"This facility will assist the Company with its short-term
working capital needs and provide sufficient financial
flexibility to implement a financial restructuring plan in a
steadfast and prompt manner," said Carl Carlson, Chief Executive
Officer. "The Company expects to execute a restructuring that
will strengthen its capital base, increase stakeholder value,
provide liquidity, and enable the Company to assume its place as
an industry leader. This is a strong and positive first step
toward achieving our objectives," added Carlson.

The one-year $10 million facility, secured by various Company
assets, including its Latin American and U.S.-based assets, will
mature on December 31, 2004. All transaction fees and interest
amounts will be reserved from proceeds and placed in an escrow
account. Mandatory prepayments to the loan have been established
upon certain asset sales.

Under the proposed agreement, the Company has the ability, at its
option, to convert the loan to equity as part of a restructuring.
In exchange, the financing grants lenders specific options
related to future equity investments in Tricom, including rights
of first refusal to provide up to $15 million of new equity to
fund operations.

About TRICOM

Tricom, S.A. is a full service communications services provider
in the Dominican Republic. We offer local, long distance, mobile,
cable television and broadband data transmission and Internet
services. Through Tricom USA, we are one of the few Latin
American based long distance carriers that is licensed by the
U.S. Federal Communications Commission to own and operate
switching facilities in the United States. Through our
subsidiary, TCN Dominicana, S.A., we are the largest cable
television operator in the Dominican Republic based on our number
of subscribers and homes passed. We also offer digital mobile
integrated services including two-way radio and paging services
in Panama using iDEN(R) technology. For more information about
Tricom, visit www.tricom.net

CONTACT:  Miguel Guerrero, Investor Relations
          Phone: (809) 476-4044 / 4012
          Email: investor.relations@tricom.net

          Home Page: http://www.tdr-investor.com/



===========
G U Y A N A
===========

* IMF, WB Support US$334M Additional Debt Aid for Guyana
--------------------------------------------------------
Press Release No. 03/224
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank's
International Development Association (IDA) have agreed that
Guyana has taken the steps necessary to reach its completion
point under the enhanced framework of the Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Guyana becomes the ninth country to
reach this point, joining Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Mauritania,
Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Benin.1

Debt relief under the enhanced HIPC Initiative from all of
Guyana's creditors amounts to US$334.5 million in net present
value (NPV2) terms. This estimate has been adjusted upward by
US$5.9 million from the calculation made at the time of the
decision point in November 2000, on account of new information
from non-Paris Club and commercial creditors and new
calculations. This relief comes in addition to US$256.4 million
in NPV that Guyana received when it reached the completion point
under the original HIPC framework in May 1999. The total debt
relief under the original and enhanced HIPC Initiatives reduces
the debt stock (after traditional debt relief) by 54 percent,
based on cumulating both relief totals at end 2002.

Multilateral creditors are to provide debt relief amounting to
US$202 million in NPV terms, which includes US$40 million from
the IMF and US$41.2 million from the World Bank. Bilateral
creditors are expected to provide relief amounting to US$132
million. Guyana has negotiated a debt rescheduling agreement with
the Paris Club on Cologne terms (a debt reduction of 90 percent)
and a number of Paris Club creditors have indicated that they
would provide debt relief beyond that required under the HIPC
Initiative. Approximately US$37 million in NPV of Guyana's debt
relief is expected to be delivered by non-Paris Club and
commercial creditors. Progress has been made, albeit slowly, in
establishing agreement with a few of these creditors, and the
Guyanese authorities will continue their efforts to obtain
comparable treatment from them.

Debt relief, in addition to bilateral assistance beyond HIPC
relief (US$13 million in NPV terms) lowers Guyana's debt to
revenue ratio to about 213 percent in 2003, 37 percent below the
sustainability threshold for countries that qualify under the
fiscal window. The debt is expected to build up over the next few
years to peak at about 242 percent of revenues in 2007,
associated with a large sugar investment currently taking place
in Guyana. However, over the long run, the ratio is projected to
decline considerably, to about 150 percent in 2022. The debt
service burden is projected to decline sharply by 10 percentage
points of revenue following enhanced HIPC relief, to 14 percent
in 2004, with a further decline to about 12 percent of revenues
over the long run.

Beyond debt relief, the World Bank disbursed US$13.35 million in
zero-interest financing from a Poverty Reduction Support Credit
on December 11, 2003. The credit, which was approved on December
17, 2002, supports Guyana's efforts to stimulating economic
growth; increase the country's productivity in key sectors such
as sugar; improve the accountability and transparency of the
public sector; and improving the delivery of public services,
including health, education, and water supply.

CONTACT:  IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
          Public Affairs
          Phone: 202-623-7300
          Fax: 202-623-6278

          Media Relations
          Phone: 202-623-7100
          Fax: 202-623-6772



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

PRECISION: Files for Chapter 11 Protection
------------------------------------------
Elamex S.A. de C.V. (NASDAQ:ELAM), a diversified manufacturing
services company with food, plastics and metals operations and
real estate holdings in Mexico and the United States, announced
that its Metal Stamping segment wholly owned subsidiary Precision
Tool, Die and Machine Company ("Precision") has voluntarily filed
for protection under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code in
the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to implement a restructuring of its
debt.

As previously announced, Precision has debt agreements that
contain a number of affirmative and negative covenants, including
limitations on additional borrowings and maintenance of certain
financial ratios. Precision was not in compliance with certain of
these covenants as of and for the quarter ended October 3, 2003.
Precision is not expected to generate sufficient near term cash
flow to fund its short-term liquidity requirements, including the
ability to repay the indebtedness due to the bank and to be in
compliance with the covenants under the loan agreement.

Elamex President and Chief Executive Officer Richard P. Spencer
commented, "Precision's Chapter 11 filing is necessary to protect
the interests of its creditors while we establish and implement a
plan for financial restructuring. Precision has established a
debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing package through its existing
bank, which should enable it to address its short-term cash
requirements for operations as it enters the Chapter 11
proceedings."

For the most recent three and nine months ended October 3, 2003,
Precision sales were $18.7 million and $54.9 million,
respectively, or 49% and 46%, respectively, of Elamex's
consolidated net sales for the period. Precision's third quarter
2003 net loss was $1.8 million.

In related news, Elamex also announced that its Board of
Directors has authorized the adoption of a plan to sell
Precision. Elamex will initiate a process to actively market and
sell the subsidiary as soon as practicable. Any sale will be
subject to the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Management
intends to engage the services of an investment advisor to assist
in these efforts.

About Precision Tool, Die and Machine Company

Precision manufactures and powder paints metal stampings
primarily for the U.S. appliance and automotive industries.
Precision employs over 500 personnel at three facilities located
in Louisville, Kentucky, and generated annual revenue of $75.3
million in 2002.

About Elamex

Elamex ("the Company") is a Mexican company with manufacturing
operations and real estate holdings in Mexico and the United
States. The Company is involved in the production of food items
related to its candy manufacturing and nut packaging operations,
and metal and plastic parts for the appliance and automotive
industries. Elamex's competitive advantage results from its
demonstrated capability to leverage low cost, highly productive
labor, strategic North American locations, recognized quality and
proven ability to combine high technology with labor-intensive
manufacturing processes in world- class facilities. As a value
added provider, Elamex's key business objectives include superior
customer satisfaction, long term supplier relationships and
employee growth and development, with the ultimate goal of
continuously building shareholder value.

CONTACT:  Elamex S.A. de C.V.
          Sam Henry, Chief Financial Officer
          Phone: +1-915-298-3071
          Email: sam.henry@elamex.com

          Tom Hudson, President of Precision
          Phone: +1-502-479-0861
          Email: thudson@precisionelamex.com

          Kristen McNally, Financial Relations Board
          Phone: +1-310-663-8007
          Email: kmcnally@financialrelationsboard.com

          Home Page: http://www.elamex.com


TV AZTECA: Shareholders Approve Unefon Split-Off
------------------------------------------------
TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V. (NYSE:TZA) (BMV: TVAZTCA), one of the two
largest producers of Spanish- language television programming in
the world, announced that it has approved a split-off of its
46.5% equity stake in Unefon, a Mexican mobile telephony operator
focused on the mass market, and of its 50% equity stake in
Cosmofrecuencias, a wireless broadband Internet access provider,
at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting held today at its
corporate offices in Mexico City.

The split-off will completely separate TV Azteca from its
telecommunications' investments. The telecommunications assets
will form Unefon Holdings, which pursuant to Mexican law will
become a separate entity approximately 45 days after the date of
the registration of the minutes of the shareholders' meeting. TV
Azteca anticipates that the shares of Unefon Holdings will be
distributed in the second quarter of 2004 and that they will
trade publicly in the Mexican stock market and in the United
States.

The split-off will entail a reduction of TV Azteca's assets and
stockholders' equity equal to the book value of TV Azteca's
investment in Unefon and Cosmofrecuencias, which totaled
approximately US$193 million as of September 30, 2003.

The advertising agreements between Unefon and TV Azteca, as well
as the accounts receivable that Unefon is required to pay to TV
Azteca, will remain unchanged.

TV Azteca noted that the split-off does not affect its six-year
plan for uses of cash, which, as previously announced, entails
the allocation of a substantial portion of TV Azteca's expected
cash generation within a six-year period, to make distributions
to shareholders above US$500 million, as well as to gradually
reduce the company's outstanding debt by an amount of
approximately US$250 million in the six-year timeframe.

"As scheduled, we are moving forward with our strategy to become
a pure media play company in an efficient manner," said Pedro
Padilla, TV Azteca's Chief Executive Officer. "The strategy will
further reduce our credit risk, and will allow for increased
market focus on the strength of our core business operations,
further increasing stakeholder value."

An information memorandum regarding the spin-off was filed with
the Mexican National Banking and Securities Commission (Comision
Nacional Bancaria y de Valores) pursuant to Mexican regulatory
requirements on December 4, 2003, and a courtesy English
translation of the report is on file with the Securities and
Exchange Commission.

Company Profile

TV Azteca is one of the two largest producers of Spanish-language
television programming in the world, operating two national
television networks in Mexico, Azteca 13 and Azteca 7, through
more than 300 owned and operated stations across the country. TV
Azteca affiliates include Azteca America Network, a new broadcast
television network focused on the rapidly growing US Hispanic
market; Unefon, a Mexican mobile telephony operator focused on
the mass market; and Todito.com, an Internet portal for North
American Spanish speakers.

CONTACT:  TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V.
          Bruno Rangel, Investor Relations
          Phone: +011-5255-3099-9167
          Email: jrangelk@tvazteca.com.mx

          Omar Avila
          Phone: +011-5255-3099-0041
          Email: oavila@tvazteca.com.mx

          Tristan Canales, Media Relations
          Phone: +011-5255-3099-5786
          Email: tcanales@tvazteca.com.mx

          Daniel McCosh
          Phone: +011-5255-3099-0059
          Email: dmccosh@tvazteca.com.mx

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



               ***********


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 America is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless
Hills, Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick,
Maryland USA. 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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