TCRLA_Public/040113.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, January 13, 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 8

                          Headlines

A R G E N T I N A

AHOLD: 2003 Sales Amount To EUR56.1 Billion
CEPA: CFI Wants Restructuring Closed
DIRECTV LA: Court Approves Disclosure Statement
TELECOM ARGENTINA: S&P To Reassess Rating Upon Conclusion of APE

* ARGENTINA: Moody's Releases Annual Report on Banking System
* IMF Exec. To Recommend Letter of Intent to Board


B E R M U D A

GLOBAL CROSSING: Inks Network and Access Services Pact with XO
LORAL SPACE: Launches Telstar 14/Estrela Do Sul 1 Satellite
TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Files Preliminary Proxy Statement


B R A Z I L

BRASKEM: S&P Rates Senior Unsecured Notes 'B+'
CSN: $200 Million 10-Year Guaranteed Notes Rated 'B+'
CSN: Fitch Rates Islands 10-year Issuance 'B+'
PARMALAT BRAZIL: Head To Travel To Italy This Week
TELEMIG CELULAR: Standard & Poor's Issues `B+' FC Rating


C H I L E

LE MANS: SVS Decides On Bankruptcy


C O L O M B I A

MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL: Files Preliminary Registration Statement


E L   S A L V A D O R

TESAL: Fitch Downgrades Local Scale Rating


M E X I C O

CFE: Funds For Electricity Generation Projects May Be Postponed
EMPRESAS ICA: Concludes $230M Capital Increase
GRUPO IMSA: Acquires 49% Of Louisville Ladder Group
TV AZTECA: Additional Info Regarding Unefon Debt Transactions


P A N A M A

BLADEX: Forms Strategic Alliance With TSI


P E R U

SIDERPERU: Awaits Report From Consultants


V E N E Z U E L A

* Fitch Assigns 'B-' Rating To Venezuela's US$1B Issue

     -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

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A R G E N T I N A
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AHOLD: 2003 Sales Amount To EUR56.1 Billion
-------------------------------------------
Ahold announced Friday consolidated net sales for 2003 (52 weeks
through December 28, 2003) of Euro 56.1 billion, a decline of
10.5% compared to Euro 62.7 billion generated in 2002. The
overall impact of acquisitions and divestments on net sales
growth in 2003 was 0.7% positive.

In the fourth quarter (12 weeks through December 28, 2003), sales
amounted to Euro 12.7 billion, a 10.8% decrease over the Euro
14.3 billion generated in the same quarter in 2002. The overall
impact of acquisitions and divestments on net sales growth in the
fourth quarter was negative 1.4%.

Sales were significantly impacted by lower currency exchange
rates, in particular that of the U.S. Dollar; sales excluding
currency impact increased by 2.7% in 2003 and 0.7% in the fourth
quarter.

The sales numbers presented in this press release are preliminary
and unaudited.

USA - retail In the United States, 2003 net sales at USA retail
in U.S. Dollars increased by 2.7% to USD 27.0 billion (2002: USD
26.3 billion). Comparable sales increased by 0.9% and identical
sales increased by 0.1%.

In the fourth quarter, net sales increased by 0.9% to USD 6.3
billion (2002: USD 6.2 billion). Comparable sales increased by
0.6% and identical sales decreased by 0.1%.

Europe - retail In Europe, net sales rose 0.9% to Euro 12.9
billion (2002: Euro 12.8 billion). In the fourth quarter, net
sales amounted to Euro 3.2 billion (2002: Euro 3.2 billion), a
decrease of 0.4%.

Excluding the impact of lower currency exchange rates, sales rose
1.7% in 2003 and 0.6% in the fourth quarter.

At Albert Heijn, identical sales declined by 1.9% in 2003. In the
fourth quarter, the identical sales decline was reduced to 0.4%.

Foodservice

Net sales at U.S. Foodservice increased by 2.3% to USD 17.8
billion (2002: USD 17.4 billion). In the fourth quarter, sales at
U.S. Foodservice increased by 6.0% to USD 4.2 billion (2002: USD
3.9 billion).

The acquisition of Allen Foods (December 2002) and Lady Baltimore
(September 2002), contributed approximately 1.5% to the sales
growth in 2003 and 0.9% in the fourth quarter.

South America

In South America, net sales increased by 3.5% to Euro 2.2 billion
(2002: Euro 2.1 billion). The sales growth benefited from the
full-year consolidation of Disco in Argentina (2002: only three
quarters) and included almost full-year sales for Santa Isabel
Peru and Paraguay (2002: only second half-year). Santa Isabel
Chile did not materially impact the full-year sales growth
because both years included one half-year of sales.

The fourth quarter showed sales of Euro 517 million (2002: Euro
646 million), down 20.0%. This was mainly caused by the sale of
Santa Isabel Chile in the third quarter of 2003.

Asia

In Asia, net sales declined 20.7% to Euro 363 million (2002: Euro
458 million) due to the sale of most of the assets of Ahold
Malaysia and Ahold Indonesia in the course of the third quarter
of 2003.

Fourth quarter sales amounted to Euro 84 million (2002: Euro 119
million), a decrease of 29.4%.

Unconsolidated joint ventures

Total sales of our unconsolidated joint ventures decreased by
3.5% to Euro 11.1 billion (2002: Euro 11.5 billion). This
decrease was caused by the consolidation of Disco and Santa
Isabel in the course of 2002. In the fourth quarter, sales
decreased by 0.3% to Euro 3.0 billion (2002: Euro 3.0 billion).

Corporate Calendar 2004*

Fiscal year 2004 (53 weeks): December 29, 2003 - January 2, 2005
Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders: March 3, 2004
2003 Full-year and Fourth Quarter Results: April 19, 2004
Annual Report & Form 20 F: May 6, 2004
Trading Statement First Quarter 2004: May 11, 2004
Annual General Meeting of Shareholders: June 2, 2004
Results First Quarter 2004: June 14, 2004
Trading Statement Second Quarter 2004: July 29, 2004
Results Second Quarter 2004: August 26, 2004
Trading Statement Third Quarter 2004: October 21, 2004
Results Third Quarter 2004: November 24, 2004
Trading Statement Full-year and Fourth Quarter 2004: January 13,
2005

* Dates are subject to change at Ahold's discretion.

Definitions

- Identical sales: compare sales from exactly the same stores.

- - Comparable sales: are identical sales plus sales from
replacement stores.

- Currency impact: the impact of using different exchange rates
to translate the financial figures of our subsidiaries to Euros.
The financial figures of the previous year are restated using the
actual exchange rates in order to eliminate this currency impact.


CEPA: CFI Wants Restructuring Closed
------------------------------------
The Corporacion Financiera Internacional (CFI) wants Garovaglio &
Zorraquin to stop the financial restructuring that it has started
on Argentine meat exporter Compania Elaboradora de Productos
Alimenticios (CEPA).

In addition, the CFI is demanding that Garovaglio & Zorraquin
should take back control of CEPA. If it does not, Garovaglio &
Zorraquin will have to pay CEPA.

But Garovaglio & Zorraquin told CFI that the sale of 70% of CEPA
to Camden fund, Ascheim & Partners last year in November for US$6
million was part of the restructuring of CEPA's debt, through a
Concurso, a measure that has avoided CEPA's bankruptcy.


DIRECTV LA: Court Approves Disclosure Statement
-----------------------------------------------
DIRECTV Latin America, LLC ("the Company") announced Friday that
the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware has approved
the Disclosure Statement filed in connection with the Company's
proposed Plan of Reorganization. With this approval, DIRECTV
Latin America remains on schedule to emerge from the Chapter 11
process in early 2004.

As previously reported, the Company filed for Chapter 11 in March
2003 in order to aggressively address its financial and
operational challenges. The filing applied only to the U.S.
entity and did not include any of the operating companies in
Latin America and the Caribbean, which have continued regular
operations.

At Friday's hearing, Judge Peter J. Walsh ruled that the
Company's Disclosure Statement contained adequate information for
the purposes of soliciting creditor approval for the Plan. A
confirmation hearing at which the Court will consider approval of
the Plan has been scheduled for February 13, 2004. By January 12,
2004, DIRECTV Latin America will mail notice of the proposed
confirmation hearing together with the Plan, the Disclosure
Statement and ballots and begin the process of soliciting
approvals for the Plan from qualified claim holders. Assuming
that the requisite approvals are received and the Court confirms
the Plan under the current timetable, the Company presently
expects to emerge from Chapter 11 by the end of February 2004.

About DIRECTV Latin America

DIRECTV is a leading direct-to-home satellite television service
in Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, the service
reaches approximately 1.5 million customers in the region, in a
total of 28 markets. DIRECTV is currently available in:
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto
Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela and several Caribbean
island nations.

DIRECTV Latin America, LLC is a multinational company owned by
DIRECTV Latin America Holdings, a subsidiary of Hughes
Electronics Corporation; Darlene Investments, LLC, an affiliate
of the Cisneros Group of Companies, and an affiliate of Grupo
Clarin. DIRECTV Latin America and its principal operating
companies have offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sco Paulo,
Brazil; Cali, Colombia; Mexico City, Mexico; Carolina, Puerto
Rico; Fort Lauderdale, USA; and Caracas, Venezuela. Web site:
www.directvla.com.

Hughes Electronics Corporation is a world-leading provider of
digital multichannel television entertainment, broadband
satellite networks and services, and global video and data
broadcasting.


TELECOM ARGENTINA: S&P To Reassess Rating Upon Conclusion of APE
----------------------------------------------------------------
Telecom Argentina STET-France Telecom S.A. (TECO, D/--/--), an
Argentine-based integrated telecom provider, launched Friday a
restructuring proposal under the context of an out-of-court
agreement, or "Acuerdo Preventivo Extrajudicial" (APE), on its
entire financial debt. As of September 2003, consolidated debt
counting accrued interests amounted to approximately US$3,217
million and included US$590 million of TECO's wireless subsidiary
Telecom Personal. The proposal includes the capitalization and
restructuring of part of the interests accrued between June 25,
2002, and Dec. 31, 2003, and gives creditors three options to
restructure their current holdings including different mixes of
new notes and cash. The cash payments are expected to be funded
with the company's cash reserves, which as of Sept. 30, 2003,
totaled about US$650 million. If the offer is successful, TECO
will extend the maturity schedule, increase capitalization, and
reduce debt. Therefore, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services will
reassess the rating once the APE is concluded.

ANALYST:  Ivana Recalde
          Buenos Aires
          Phone: (54) 114-891-2127

          Marta Castelli
          Buenos Aires
          Phone: (54) 114-891-2128


* ARGENTINA: Moody's Releases Annual Report on Banking System
-------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service said its credit outlook for Argentina's
banks continues to hinge on the sovereign's progress in
rescheduling its external debt because of the banks' high
exposure to the government sector.

In its annual report on Argentina's banking system entitled
"Banking System Outlook: Argentina," the rating agency also noted
that bank financial strength ratings remain at the lowest levels
because of the banks' still weak, though improving, financial
fundamentals and their continued dependence on outside support.

In addition, the banks are operating within a distressed economic
and legal environment that has greatly impaired the
creditworthiness of both businesses and individuals.

Moody's Ratings and Outlooks for the Argentine Banking System:

- Long Term Foreign Currency Debt: Caa1 to Ca Stable
- Long Term Foreign Currency Deposits: Caa2 Stable
- Country Ceilings Debt/Deposits: Caa1/Caa2 Stable
- Bank Financial Strength (BFSR): E Stable


* IMF Exec. To Recommend Letter of Intent to Board
--------------------------------------------------
Managing Director to Recommend to Executive Board the Letter of
Intent of the Authorities for the First Review of the Stand-By
Arrangement with Argentina

Mr. Horst K”hler, Managing Director of the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), today made the following announcement:

"Progress has been made in recent days and understandings have
been reached with the Argentine authorities on a letter of intent
requesting the completion of the first program and financing
assurances reviews under the three-year Stand-By Arrangement with
the Fund. I plan shortly to recommend to the IMF Executive Board
the completion of these reviews. The authorities' letter has been
signed today in Buenos Aires and will be sent to the IMF Board
shortly. I anticipate an Executive Board meeting later this
month.

"The authorities' letter notes the considerable progress made in
implementing the economic program that has been supported by a
Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF since September 2003.

"In particular, macroeconomic developments continue to be
favorable, the economic recovery in 2003 has exceeded the target
in the program, and monetary and fiscal policy implementation
remains in line with the program's commitments, with quantitative
performance criteria for end-October 2003 met with comfortable
margins. Moreover, important measures requiring Congressional
approval have now been implemented, including the 2004 budget
that underpins a consolidated primary surplus of 3 percent of
GDP; a comprehensive anti-tax evasion package; and legislation
facilitating the renegotiation of utility concessions.
Considerable further progress has also been made toward
eliminating quasi-monies.

"The letter of intent for the first review, in addition, develops
further the authorities' strategy for strengthening the banking
system and making progress in private corporate debt
restructuring, among other areas of structural reform. Finally,
the authorities reiterate in their letter their determination to
complete a public debt restructuring that attracts broad creditor
support."

CONTACT:  IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
          Public Affairs: 202-623-7300 - Fax: 202-623-6278
          Media Relations: 202-623-7100 - Fax: 202-623-6772



=============
B E R M U D A
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GLOBAL CROSSING: Inks Network and Access Services Pact with XO
--------------------------------------------------------------
Global Crossing (OTC: GLBCF) and XO Communications, Inc. (OTC
Bulletin Board: XOCM) announced two commercial agreements focused
on bringing both companies more effective pricing and services to
better serve their customers while leveraging their individual
strengths.

Global Crossing will benefit from XO's alternative local and
metro access facilities, while XO Communications will take
advantage of Global Crossing's network capabilities, enabling
both companies to deliver seamless connectivity to their
customers.

In the first agreement, XO Communications, a national broadband
telecommunications services provider, agreed to purchase from
Global Crossing voice termination and private line termination
services for a guaranteed minimum of $50 million over the next
five years. The agreement contains provisions for Global Crossing
to sell up to an additional $50 million in services to XO
Communications. The new agreement amends the scope of a previous
agreement for private line services between the two companies.

In a separate deal, Global Crossing and XO Communications have
amended the scope of an existing agreement for the purchase of
local access and private line data services. Under the revised
agreement, Global Crossing will purchase a guaranteed minimum of
$70 million in services from XO Communications over the next five
years. The revised agreement is structured to facilitate the
purchase of additional services over and above the committed
amount during the term of the agreement.

"These two agreements effectively leverage the synergies between
our companies to benefit customers and boost our strong
competitive positioning," said John Legere, chief executive
officer of Global Crossing. "XO recognizes the outstanding
quality and performance capabilities of our global network.
Simultaneously, the access services provided by XO enable us to
recognize substantial costs savings in excess of 40 percent, and
to streamline and optimize our access delivery, further enhancing
our ability to provide a top-of-the-line customer experience."

"We're pleased to enter such mutually beneficial commercial
arrangements with Global Crossing," said Carl Grivner, chief
executive officer of XO Communications. "Global Crossing
appreciates that XO offers an unmatched combination of high
quality services, complementary network solutions and overall
value. This is a win-win for XO and Global Crossing."

This announcement expands a beneficial business relationship that
has developed between XO Communications and Global Crossing over
the past few years. The network services agreements became
effective upon Global Crossing's emergence from Chapter 11.

XO Communications, Inc. is a leading broadband telecommunications
services provider offering a complete portfolio of
telecommunications services, including: local and long distance
voice, Internet access, Virtual Private Networking (VPN),
Ethernet, Wavelength, Web Hosting and Integrated voice and data
services.

XO Communications has assembled an unrivaled set of facilities-
based broadband networks and Tier One Internet peering
relationships in the United States. XO Communications currently
offers facilities-based broadband telecommunications services
within and between more than 60 markets throughout the United
States.

Global Crossing provides telecommunications solutions over the
world's first integrated global IP-based network. Its core
network connects more than 200 cities and 27 countries worldwide,
and delivers services to more than 500 major cities, 50 countries
and 5 continents around the globe. The company's global sales and
support model matches the network footprint and, like the
network, delivers a consistent customer experience worldwide.

Global Crossing IP services are global in scale, linking the
world's enterprises, governments and carriers with customers,
employees and partners worldwide in a secure environment that is
ideally suited for IP-based business applications, allowing e-
commerce to thrive. The company offers a full range of managed
data and voice products including Global Crossing IP VPN Service,
Global Crossing Managed Services and Global Crossing VoIP
services, to more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500, as well as
700 carriers, mobile operators and ISPs.

Please visit http://www.globalcrossing.com/for more information
about Global Crossing and http://www.xo.com/for more information
about XO Communications.


LORAL SPACE: Launches Telstar 14/Estrela Do Sul 1 Satellite
-----------------------------------------------------------
Loral's Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1, a powerful and flexible
satellite built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), was successfully
launched Saturday at 11:13 pm EST. The satellite, to be operated
by Loral Skynet do Brasil at 63 degrees West longitude, was sent
into space on a Boeing Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket from the
Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned on the equator in the Pacific
Ocean.

"The launch of Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1 represents an
important expansion of our international fixed satellite services
fleet," said Terry Hart, president, Loral Skynet. "We believe
there is great growth potential in the markets - particularly
Brazil - and the applications this new satellite will support.
Our plans call for a further expansion of the fleet to a total of
five by mid-year when we launch Telstar 18 which will serve a
large portion of Asia, another growing market."

Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1 carries 41 high-powered Ku-band
transponders with five unique and interconnecting coverage beams.
The satellite will serve growing markets such as broadcast video
and cable programming, Internet backbone connectivity, VSAT data
and other telecommunications services.

More than fifty percent of the satellite's power will be
dedicated to Brazil, providing dedicated Ku-band solutions for
the Brazilian marketplace. The satellite's other beams will cover
the Americas and the North Atlantic Ocean, where Connexion by
Boeing(TM) will use the satellite to enable its Internet-to-
aircraft service.

Loral Skynet do Brasil, Ltd. is the first private Brazilian
satellite company to offer Ku-band satellite services and was
formed primarily to address opportunities in the fixed satellite
services market in Brazil and South America. The company has a
ground station in Rio de Janeiro that will provide tracking,
telemetry, and control and access management from in-country
technical staff.

Telstar 14/Estrela do Sul 1 is based on SS/L's space-proven 1300
geostationary satellite platform, which has an excellent record
of reliable operation. The 1300 is designed to achieve a long
life, in this case 15 years. Its excellent station-keeping
capability and orbital stability are enabled by its use of
bipropellant propulsion and momentum-bias attitude control
systems. A system of high-efficiency solar arrays and batteries
provide uninterrupted electrical power. In all, SS/L satellites
have amassed over 1,000 years of on-orbit service.

A pioneer in the satellite industry, Loral Skynet delivers the
superior quality of service, range of satellite solutions and
unparalleled reliability that have made it an industry leader for
more than 40 years.  With its fleet of satellites and its
established hybrid VSAT/fiber global network infrastructure,
Skynet offers a unique, single source for all broadcast, data
network, Internet access and IP needs. Headquartered in
Bedminster, New Jersey, Skynet is dedicated to providing secure,
high-quality connectivity and communications. For more
information, visit www.loralskynet.com.

Space Systems/Loral is a premier designer, manufacturer and
integrator of powerful satellites and satellite systems and also
provides a range of related services that include mission control
operations and procurement of launch services. Based in Palo
Alto, Calif., the company has an international base of commercial
and governmental customers whose applications include broadband
digital communications, direct-to-home broadcast, defense
communications, environmental monitoring, and air traffic
control. For more information, visit www.ssloral.com.

Loral Skynet and Space Systems/Loral are both subsidiaries of
Loral Space & Communications (OTCBB: LRLSQ).

PRESS CONTACT:  Amy Trowbridge
                (908) 470-2495
                atrowbridge@loralskynet.com

INVESTOR CONTACT:  John McCarthy
                   (212) 338-5345
                   Web site at www.loral.com


TYCO INTERNATIONAL: Files Preliminary Proxy Statement
-----------------------------------------------------
Tyco International Ltd. (NYSE: TYC; BSX: TYC) filed Friday its
preliminary proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC). Tyco shareholders will consider seven proposals
at the company's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 25, 2004.

In the filing, the Board has proposed amendments to the company's
bylaws that strengthen shareholder rights. The Board also
recommends continuing the company's charter in Bermuda.

"The Board listened to the concerns of our shareholders and
carefully evaluated the pros and cons of incorporating in the
United States," said Tyco Chairman and Chief Executive Edward D.
Breen. "Following a thorough review, the Board concluded that the
interests of shareholders would be best served by making
fundamental changes to our bylaws that strengthen shareholder
rights and remaining a Bermuda company."

Tyco has been a Bermuda company since its 1997 combination with
ADT Ltd., a British company chartered in Bermuda since 1984.
Following that transaction, the combined entity was renamed Tyco
International Ltd.

The company also announced in the preliminary proxy that the
Audit Committee of the Board of Directors is undertaking a
comprehensive auditor selection process to review qualified audit
firms including PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the company's current
auditor. The Audit Committee plans to make a decision on the
external auditor in the near future.

Tyco International Ltd. is a diversified manufacturing and
service company. Tyco is the world's leading provider of both
electronic security services and fire protection services; the
world's leading supplier of passive electronic components and a
leading provider of undersea fiber optic networks and services; a
world leader in the medical products industry; and the world's
leading manufacturer of industrial valves and controls. Tyco also
holds a strong leadership position in plastics and adhesives.
Tyco operates in more than 100 countries and had fiscal 2003
revenues from continuing operations of approximately $37 billion.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

On Jan. 9, 2004, Tyco filed a preliminary proxy statement with
the Securities and Exchange Commission with respect to its 2004
Annual General Meeting of Shareholders scheduled for March 25,
2004. Tyco will file with the Commission, and will furnish to
Tyco shareholders, a definitive proxy statement with respect to
the 2004 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders. Tyco may also
file additional proxy solicitation materials. TYCO ADVISES ALL
SHAREHOLDERS TO READ THE DEFINITIVE PROXY STATEMENT AND ANY
ADDITIONAL PROXY SOLICITATION MATERIALS CAREFULLY WHEN THEY
BECOME AVAILABLE, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT
INFORMATION. The preliminary proxy statement is, and the
definitive proxy statement and any additional proxy solicitation
materials will be, available for free at the Securities and
Exchange Commission's Internet web site at www.sec.gov. A free
copy of the preliminary proxy statement, the definitive proxy
statement when it becomes available, and any other additional
proxy solicitation materials, may also be obtained at Tyco's
website at www.tyco.com.

Tyco, its Board of Directors and director nominees, its executive
officers and certain other persons may be deemed to be
participants in Tyco's solicitation of proxies with respect to
the 2004 Annual General Meeting. Information concerning such
participants and their interests is set forth in Tyco's proxy
statement, which is available at the websites provided above.

CONTACTS:  Media: David Polk, 609-720-4387
           Investor Relations: Ed Arditte, 609-720-4621
                               John Roselli, 609-720-4624



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B R A Z I L
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BRASKEM: S&P Rates Senior Unsecured Notes 'B+'
----------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned Friday its 'B+'
rating to Braskem S.A.'s (Braskem) senior unsecured notes in the
amount of US$150 million with a tenor up to 10 years. At the same
time, the 'BB-' local-currency and 'B+' foreign-currency
corporate ratings on Braskem were affirmed. The stable outlook on
the local-currency corporate credit rating and the positive
outlook on the foreign-currency corporate credit rating remain
unchanged.

"Despite positive trends for 2004, the local-currency corporate
credit rating on Braskem reflects the still-challenging economic
environment faced by the company in Brazil, unstable and
currently high feedstock prices, and an improving but still
aggressive financial profile," said Standard & Poor's credit
analyst Reginaldo Takara.

"These negatives are partly offset by Braskem's leading business
and market position in the Brazilian petrochemical industry,
strong and traditionally stable cash generation, and expectations
that the company's debt profile will become more comfortable
through a smoother amortization schedule during the next several
years," Mr. Takara said.

The stable outlook on Braskem's local-currency corporate credit
rating reflects the company's improving financial profile,
essentially due to a declining exposure to short-term debt
through March 2004. Although Braskem is expected to remain
reasonably exposed to banking market conditions in the medium
term, as total debt will be reduced only gradually in the years
ahead, the company proved to be successful when managing very
stressful financial environments in the past two years and is
expected to maintain a more comfortable debt profile and
amortization schedule from now on, thanks to the new transactions
closed.

ANALYST:  Reginaldo Takara
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: (55) 11-5501-8932


CSN: $200 Million 10-Year Guaranteed Notes Rated 'B+'
-----------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned Friday its 'B+'
foreign-currency rating to its 10-year guaranteed notes due 2014
in the amount of up to US$200 million to be issued by CSN Islands
VIII Corp. and irrevocably and unconditionally guaranteed by
Companhia Sider£rgica Nacional (CSN).

At the same time, the 'B+' foreign-currency corporate rating on
CSN is affirmed. The outlook on CSN's foreign-currency corporate
credit rating remains positive.

"The 'B+' foreign-currency rating on CSN reflects the foreign-
currency sovereign rating on the Federative Republic of Brazil
and is constrained as such considering CSN's corporate credit
profile," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Reginaldo Takara.

Under Standard & Poor's analytical methodology, CSN's credit
profile reflects the company's still somewhat aggressive
financial profile (as debt ratios are adjusted by Standard &
Poor's to include debt at shareholder's level, as described
below), as well as its exposure to the more-volatile Brazilian
economy and to the cyclical and volatile nature of the steel
industry worldwide. These negatives are somewhat offset by CSN's
solid operating profile, a very favorable cost position, strong
export capabilities, and the expectation of continuing
improvement in its capital structure, in particular, with a
significant reduction in short-term debt expected for the
following quarters as the company manages to replace short-term
debt with longer-term notes.

CSN is one of the largest integrated flat steel makers in Brazil.
The company produced 4.0 million tons of crude steel in the first
nine months of 2003, selling 3.53 million tons of steel products
in the same period.

Standard & Poor's sees CSN's business profile as sound. The
company is the only truly vertically integrated steel producer in
Brazil, and the only Brazilian steel maker that benefits from
owning high-quality iron ore (the Casa de Pedra mine, located
approximately 330 kilometers from its steel mill).

CSN's liquidity is adequate for the rating category. The company
has traditionally sustained sound liquidity, with cash reserves
in excess of US$300 million in the past three years. Cash is
invested in liquid assets and marketable securities mostly in
Brazil.

The proceeds from the new 10-year notes are expected to be used
essentially to replace short-term debt, contributing to a
stronger capital structure within the next quarters.

The positive outlook on CSN's foreign-currency corporate credit
rating reflects that of the foreign-currency sovereign rating of
the Federative Republic of Brazil.

ANALYST:  Reginaldo Takara
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: (55) 11-5501-8932


CSN: Fitch Rates Islands 10-year Issuance 'B+'
----------------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings has assigned a 'B+,' senior unsecured foreign
currency rating to Companhia Siderurgica Nacional's (CSN) US$200
million 10-year bond that was issued through its subsidiary CSN
Islands VIII Corp. on January 9, 2004. The Rating Outlook is
Stable. CSN's foreign currency rating is constrained by the
Federative Republic of Brazil's 'B+,' foreign currency rating.

Fitch also maintains ratings for CSN export securitizations
issued through CSN Islands VI Corp. Fitch rates both the series
2003-1 US$142 million fixed-rate notes and the series 2003-2 $125
million floating-rate notes 'BBB-'. Fitch also rates CSN's senior
unsecured local currency obligations 'BB+,' and has a national
scale rating of 'A+(bra)'.

The proceeds from this issuance will be used primarily to
refinance existing obligations and extend the company's debt
maturity profile. With EBITDA of about BRL$2.2 billion as of
September 30, 2003, CSN's leverage, as measured by net debt-to-
EBITDA, was 1.8 times (x), while EBITDA-to-interest expense was
about 5.0x. Due to increased production volumes, a higher value-
added product mix and a strong pricing environment, Fitch expects
CSN to continue to generate healthy operating cash flow into
2004. In 2003, CSN benefited from a lower overall cost of
financing and has been able to extend its debt maturity profile.
Fitch also expects to see a reduction in net debt in 2004 such
that CSN's EBITDA-to-interest expense ratio would be above 5.0x,
while net debt-to-EBITDA could improve to less than 1.5x; CSN
management has stated that it is committed to reducing the
company's ratio of net debt-to-EBITDA to 1.1x by the end of 2004.

Although a significant reduction in net debt is expected in the
near term, Fitch believes that further debt reduction will be
constrained over the next several years by the large debt-service
requirements of the company's controlling shareholder, Vicunha
Siderurgia S.A. (Vicunha), which has a 46% stake in CSN but no
operating assets. In 2003, about one quarter of CSN's EBITDA, or
about BRL800 million, was needed for dividends in order for
Vicunha to meet debt service on its debentures of approximately
BRL350 million. The estimated required dividend from CSN would
likely be about BRL700 million in 2004, BRL900 million in 2005
and BRL1.0 billion in 2006. These estimates are lower than prior
ones as Brazilian inflation and interest rates have declined
recently. With an expected EBITDA of at least BRL3.0 billion in
2004 and capital expenditures of about BRL500 million (excluding
the potential Casa de Pedra expansion), Fitch believes that CSN
will be able to meet the estimated dividend requirement.

CSN seems especially poised to grow in the current global
environment of high commodity prices due to its ownership of the
Casa de Pedra mine, one of the world's largest high-quality iron
ore bodies. The combination of an improving global economy and
China's voracious appetite for raw materials has driven steel
prices to the high point of their cycles. These pricing benefits
are expected to be marginally offset by higher raw material costs
for items such as coking coal, coke and iron ore, as the
increased levels of steel production have created tight supplies.
For a typical integrated steel producer that must purchase iron
ore from third parties, these two inputs can now account for more
than 40% of steel production costs. Iron ore prices rose by about
10% in 2003 and are expected to have double digit increases again
in 2004. By having a captive iron ore mine, CSN will not be
negatively affected by higher iron ore prices but rather will
benefit from the price increases since the company sells its
excess iron ore of approximately 8.0 million tons to third
parties.

CSN's ratings are also supported by its modern production
facilities, vertical integration and access to low-cost labor.
The ratings also factor in the concentrated nature of the
Brazilian steel industry, which limits competition based solely
upon price. In addition, transportation barriers minimize the
amount of steel imported into the Brazilian market. These factors
allow CSN to generate strong cash flows during troughs in the
steel cycle and in economic downturns in Brazil.

CSN ranks as one of the largest steel producers in Latin America
with annual production capacity of 5.8 million tons of crude
steel. CSN's fully integrated steel operations, located in the
state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, produce steel slabs and hot-
and cold-rolled coils and sheets for the automobile, construction
and appliance industries, among others. CSN also holds leading
market shares in the galvanized and tin-mill products.

CONTACT:  Anita Saha, CFA
          Phone: +1-312-368-3179

          Joe Bormann, CFA
          Phone: +1-312-368-3349

          Jayme Bartling
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: +55-11-287-3177

          Media Relations:
          Matt Burkhard
          New York
          Phone: +1-212-908-0540


PARMALAT BRAZIL: Head To Travel To Italy This Week
--------------------------------------------------
Ricardo Goncalves, the head of the Brazilian subsidiary of Italy-
based Parmalat, will travel to the group's head office this week,
Reuters reports.

Brazil's Agriculture Minister announced Friday Goncalves will ask
that no cash from the money-losing unit be used to cover the
gaping hole in the scandal-plagued parent's finances.

"The president (of Parmalat Brasil) is going to Italy to create
an armor plating for the Brazilian Parmalat ... and show that
(Parmalat in) Brazil has the ability to operate without losses,"
Brazilian Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues said.

Parmalat, which is the market leader in liquid milk in Brazil,
was declared insolvent last month after revealing a multibillion-
euro gap in its accounts. Several senior executives of the
Company are being investigated for fraud.

In the wake of the scandal, Parmalat's Brazilian subsidiary
delayed payments to some producers although it has pledged to pay
suppliers by the middle of January.

Parmalat's Brazilian subsidiary is the second-biggest buyer of
milk in Brazil behind Switzerland's Nestle.

Parmalat Brasil SA Industria de Alimentos, as the Brazilian unit
is officially called, has yet to post a profit since it started
publishing its balance sheet in 1998.


TELEMIG CELULAR: Standard & Poor's Issues `B+' FC Rating
--------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said Friday that it assigned
its 'B+' foreign currency corporate credit rating to Brazilian
mobile telecom operators Telemig Celular S.A. (Telemig) and
Amazonia Celular S.A. (Amazonia).

Standard & Poor's also said that it assigned its 'B+' rating to
the companies' jointly proposed US$100 million notes units
program.

The outlook on the foreign currency rating on Amazonia is stable.
The outlook on the foreign currency rating on Telemig is
positive.

"The rating on the notes units mirrors the foreign currency
ratings on Telemig and Amazonia and is based on the capacity of
each company to make the necessary and punctual semi-annual
interest payments during the lifetime of its respective
underlying notes and principal at maturity," said Standard &
Poor's credit analyst Jean-Pierre Cote Gil. Standard & Poor's
does not view the rating on the notes units as constrained by the
sovereign credit rating on the Federative Republic of Brazil. The
notes units will consist of underlying US$70 million notes
offered by Telemig and US$30 million notes offered by Amazonia.
The notes will mature in 2009 and will not trade separately, so
notes units holders will be relying on the joint and several
credit and financial standing of both senior unsecured issuers--
Telemig and Amazonia--for servicing the debt. The underlying
notes will rank equally with all other senior unsecured
obligations of each issuer.

Telemig and Amazonia are two Brazilian wireless telecom services
providers. Both companies are ultimately and indirectly
controlled by the same group of investors, which includes
investment and mutual funds managed by Banco Opportunity, a
private Brazilian investment bank, and several Brazilian pension
funds.

The credit ratings on Telemig and Amazonia are based on their
significant exposure to the volatile Brazilian economic
characteristics; limited scale, geographic diversification, and
financial muscle compared with their direct competitors; and the
delay of definition and implementation of a 2.5G technological
migration, which potentially impairs both companies' current
market leadership positions. In addition, there are potential
regulatory risks affecting all local telecom operators. Disputes
between shareholders, such as those that have already occurred,
could cause the company to delay strategic decisions and, as a
result, jeopardize its market positioning in the future.

Mitigating these negative factors are both companies' dominant
market positions and gross sales' share within their concession
areas, despite increasing competition. In addition, the companies
have extensive time-division multiple access coverage reach
(relevant competitive barrier) and the capacity to generate free
cash flows vis-…-vis debt position (adequate at Amazonia and very
strong at Telemig). Amazonia's liquidity position is adequate,
and Telemig's is very strong.

Telemig is the leading provider of mobile telecom services in the
state of Minas Gerais, with 2.2 million subscribers (estimated
60% of market share) as of September 2003. Thanks to an efficient
strategy on customer relationship and segmentation (preserving
and expanding its more profitable subscriber base) and its vast
TDMA network coverage within its concession area (with sound
roaming quality), Telemig has demonstrated relevant competitive
strengths. Amazonia is the leading mobile telecom operator within
its concession area (consisting of five Northern Brazilian
states: Amazonas, Roraima, Amap , Par  and Maranhao), counting on
a subscriber base of almost 1 million users (estimated market
share of 46%) as of September 2003. Amazonia operates in one of
the toughest competitive environments in Brazil, considering its
poor demographics and economic indicators, limited penetration,
and the presence of three other players. Moreover, population is
concentrated in fewer cities, which helped new entrants rapidly
cover most of the populated areas.

The stable outlook on the foreign currency rating on Amazonia
reflects Standard & Poor's expectations that the company will be
able to maintain its current credit fundamentals, namely the
quality of its customer base and its profitability and cash flow
protection measures. Moreover, Standard & Poor's expects the
company to gradually resolve the refinancing risk related to some
concentration of short term debt, using financing instruments
that would allow it to extend its debt profile, as demonstrated
by the forthcoming issuance. The positive outlook on the foreign
currency rating on Telemig reflects that of the sovereign credit
rating of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

ANALYST:  Jean-Pierre Cote Gil
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: (55) 11-5501-8946

          Reginaldo Takara
          Sao Paulo
          Phone: (55) 11-5501-8932



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


LE MANS: SVS Decides On Bankruptcy
----------------------------------
Chile's securities and insurance regulator, the SVS, decided to
declare local life insurer Le Mans Desarrollo bankrupt, marking
the first liquidation of a life insurance company in Chile since
the country's severe financial crisis in 1982.

The regulator decided to take the action on Le Mans' inability to
reverse a CLP13.2-billion (US$23.6mn) deficit in its balance
sheet.

The SVS intervened Le Mans Desarrollo in March last year after it
was revealed that sister company Inverlink Corredoras de Bolsa
owed the insurer US$16.5 million.


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

MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL: Files Preliminary Registration Statement
----------------------------------------------------------------
Millicom International Cellular S.A. ("Millicom") (Nasdaq: MICC)
filed on January 8, 2004 a preliminary registration statement on
Form F-3 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the
"SEC") in respect of its 2% Senior Convertible PIK Notes due 2006
(the "Notes") and the shares of Millicom common stock issuable
upon conversion of the Notes. Certain selling security holders
named in the prospectus contained in the registration statement
are offering the Notes and the common stock issuable upon
conversion of the Notes for resale. Millicom will not receive any
proceeds from the resale of the Notes or underlying common stock
by such holders.

The registration statement has not yet been reviewed by the SEC
and, accordingly, the information in the registration statement
is not yet complete and may be changed. Prior to the
effectiveness of the registration statement, the Notes and the
common stock issuable upon conversion of the Notes may not be
offered, sold or otherwise transferred except pursuant to an
exemption from, or in a transaction not subject to, the
registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as
amended (the "Securities Act") and applicable state securities
laws.

The Notes were originally issued in May 2003 in an exchange offer
and consent solicitation transaction exempt from the registration
requirements of the Securities Act. The registration statement
was filed to comply with Millicom's obligations under the
indenture governing the Notes.

This communication shall not constitute an offer to sell or the
solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of
these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation
or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification
under the securities laws of any such state.

CONTACTS:  MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL CELLULAR S.A., LUXEMBOURG
           Marc Beuls, President and Chief Executive Officer
           Telephone: +352 27 759 101

           SHARED VALUE LTD, LONDON
           Andrew Best, Investor Relations
           Telephone: +44 20 7321 5022


=====================
E L   S A L V A D O R
=====================

TESAL: Fitch Downgrades Local Scale Rating
------------------------------------------
Credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded Friday its local scale
rating for Telefonica Moviles El Salvador (TESAL), a local unit
of Spain's Telefonica Moviles, to B (slv) from BB (slv), with a
negative outlook.

Business News Americas reports that the rating reflects the ratio
of accumulated losses against equity, which is above the legal
limit in El Salvador, and the fact that TESAL has not taken
effective steps to remedy the situation.

In addition, Fitch slashed the Company's share rating to level 5
from level 4.

Fitch recognized that the Tesal board is working on various
recovery strategies that will be discussed at a shareholders'
meeting in February.

The negative outlook reflects continuing dependence on external
financing and well as increasing competition in the sector, Fitch
said.


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


CFE: Funds For Electricity Generation Projects May Be Postponed
---------------------------------------------------------------
Alfredo Elias Ayub, general director of Federal Electricity
Commission (CFE), announced that the capital available for
financing electricity generation projects will be postponed if
there's no electricity reform, as well as cuts to CFE's
investment programs.

CFE finance director, Francisco Santoyo, said that legislators
punished the electricity sector with a budget reduction of
MXN1.65 billion (US$152 million). So, in 2004 the CFE would only
have MXN45 billion (US$4.15 billion) even though it needs MXN55
billion (US$5.08 billion).

The projections for 2004 are not positive for the development of
the energy sector because it depends on the growth of the
domestic economy, added the official.

Elias Ayub said that electricity supply is guaranteed until the
end of the current administration (in 2006) despite the cuts in
investments of the state-owned company.


EMPRESAS ICA: Concludes $230M Capital Increase
----------------------------------------------
Mexican construction and engineering giant Empresas ICA told
Mexico's City stock exchange Friday that it was able to raise
MXN2.49 billion (US$229 million) from the issuance of 1.24
billion shares, relates Business News Americas.

As part of the operation, local financing group Inbursa acquired
a 24% share in ICA, which is owned by Mexican entrepreneur Carlos
Slim. Just under 1.86 billion ICA shares are still in
circulation.

According to ICA, the fresh capital will conclude its financial
restructuring, allowing it to take advantage of new market
opportunities.


GRUPO IMSA: Acquires 49% Of Louisville Ladder Group
---------------------------------------------------
Grupo Imsa, S.A. de C.V. (BMV:IMSA) (NYSE:IMY) announced Friday
that it has acquired 49% of the equity of Louisville Ladder Group
(LLG). The acquisition gives Grupo Imsa 100% control of this
company through its subsidiary IMSALUM, which will begin to
consolidate the total results of LLG as of January 2004. LLG was
created in 1998 as a result of the merger of the ladder
businesses of Grupo Imsa and Louisville Ladder, which was part of
Emerson Electric. LLG is currently one of the most important
ladder companies in the United States, and exports its products
to Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia. The
company posted 2003 sales of approximately US$130 million.

Mr. Arnulfo Chavez, IMSALUM's President, explained: "Controlling
100% of Louisville Ladder Group gives us greater flexibility to
adapt to market demands in a more agile and efficient way."

Grupo Imsa, a holding company, dates back to 1936 and is today
one of Mexico's leading diversified industrial companies,
operating in four core businesses: steel processed products;
automotive batteries and related products; steel and plastic
construction products; and aluminum and other related products.
With manufacturing and distribution facilities in Mexico, the
United States, and throughout Central and South America, Grupo
Imsa currently exports to all five continents. In 2002 the
Company's sales reached US$2.6 billion, of which close to 55% was
generated outside Mexico. Grupo Imsa shares trade on the Mexican
Stock Exchange (IMSA) and, in the United States, on the NYSE
(IMY).


TV AZTECA: Additional Info Regarding Unefon Debt Transactions
-------------------------------------------------------------
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, has announced, in relation to recent unusual stock
price movements and trading volume, that Unefon, S.A. de C.V.
provided this morning the following information:

On June 16th, 2003, its main subsidiary Operadora Unefon, S.A. de
C.V. ("Unefon") and Codisco Investments LLC ("Codisco"), an
entity constituted in the United States, reached an agreement
with Nortel Networks Limited ("Nortel") to acquire Unefon's
outstanding debt with Nortel for US$150 million. Given that
Unefon, on a stand-alone basis, did not have sufficient funds to
acquire the entirety of the debt, Unefon and Codisco funded US$43
million and US$107 million, respectively, sharing similar
conditions in this transaction. In the contract, which formalized
the purchase of the debt, Nortel established that the debt could
not be sold to a non- related party without Nortel's express
consent.

Ricardo Salinas Pliego, chairman of TV Azteca, S.A. de C.V.
(NYSE: TZA) (BMV: TVAZTCA), and Moises Saba Masri, chairman of
Unefon, each indirectly owned 50% of Codisco.

In September 2003, Unefon signed a service contract to provide
capacity to an unaffiliated third party and received US$268
million subject to such contract. Unefon, as it was contractually
obligated to do, used these funds in addition to funds from
operations and short-term credits to pay off the US$325 million
in debt. With this payment, all of Unefon's assets, which had
been collateralizing the loan, were released.

Unefon is a company in which Unefon Holdings, S.A. de C.V.
("Unefon Holdings"), a company recently spun off from TV Azteca,
holds an equity participation of 46.5%.

This description of the transactions is being furnished in
advance of the completion of a review that is being carried out
by the independent members of the Board of Directors of TV
Azteca, with the assistance of Munger Tolles & Olson, special
counsel of the independent directors. This review will continue
as informed by the company on January 7.

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, and Todito.com, an Internet portal for North American
Spanish speakers.



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

BLADEX: Forms Strategic Alliance With TSI
-----------------------------------------
Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones, S.A. (NYSE: BLX)
("BLADEX") and Trade Source International ("TSI"), announced
Friday a strategic alliance that will offer BLADEX's clients
TSI's suite of global trade finance services, geared around the
latter's international expertise in Export Credit Agency and
other trade-specific financial structures. The services include
creating and implementing innovative financing and payment
solutions for trade-related structured transactions.

"We are delighted to be working with TSI. Leveraging on their
extensive experience, BLADEX will be able to offer our clients an
additional service to support their trade-related needs," said
Jaime Rivera, Chief Executive Officer of BLADEX. "As part of our
strategy of increasing the scope of our trade finance products
through strategic alliances, TSI affords BLADEX the capability of
deploying first-rate Export Credit Agency structures. Our aim
remains to become the most complete trade finance house in Latin
America, while minimizing our execution and investment risk."

"TSI is extremely proud to have been selected by BLADEX to help
service its clients by providing product expertise in the
structuring of trade-related transactions benefiting from Export
Credit Agencies support," said Michael Stoddard, Managing
Director for TSI.

About BLADEX

BLADEX is a multinational bank established by the Central Banks
of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Based in Panama,
its shareholders include central and commercial banks in 23
countries in the Region, as well as international banks and
private investors. BLADEX (ticker: BLX) is listed on the New York
Stock Exchange. Additional information is available at
http://www.blx.com.

About TSI

TSI is an international financial advisory services firm that
delivers business and financing solutions to banks and their
customers that engage in cross-border trade and investment. TSI
develops partnerships with financial institutions to supplement
their trade and project finance expertise. Through these
partnerships, TSI assists its client banks in generating advisory
fees, originating loans, and distributing trade risk on
structured trade finance business. Additional information is
available at http://www.tsi-b2b.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

    Banco Latinoamericano de Exportaciones, S.A. (BLADEX)
    Carlos Yap S.
    507-210-8581
    cyap@blx.com

    Trade Source International (TSI)
    Michael W. Stoddard
    626-398-0759
    stoddard@tsi-b2b.com

    I-ADVIZE CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, INC. (FOR BLADEX)
    Melanie Carpenter
    212-406-3692
    mcarpenter@i-advize.com



=======
P E R U
=======

SIDERPERU: Awaits Report From Consultants
-----------------------------------------
Peruvian steelmaker Siderperu is awaiting the finished report
from consultants to determine the technical and operative aspects
to be improved on to achieve greater efficiency at its plant,
reports Business News Americas,

According to Siderperu manager Arturo Torres, the Company expects
to receive the report this week.

"The review of the integrated development plan should highlight
weaknesses to be turned around if the firm is to face down the
increasing competition in the steel sector," Torres said.

Last year, Siderperu hired Argentina's Siderar, part of the
Techint group, to optimize operations along technical, commercial
and logistical lines. With the application of the plan, Siderperu
will be seeking to achieve technological and production
improvements that will permit cost savings and better product
quality.

According to Torres, some aspects of the development plan are
already in operation, "the work was done with the considerable
participation of our management team so some technical changes
are already being implemented," he said.


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

* Fitch Assigns 'B-' Rating To Venezuela's US$1B Issue
------------------------------------------------------
Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency, assigned Friday a
'B-' rating to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's thirty-year
US$1 billion issue. The Rating Outlook is Stable. Proceeds from
the bonds will be used to help meet domestic bond amortizations.

Venezuela's sovereign ratings balance comparatively modest public
external debt at 29.5% of GDP and strong external liquidity of
156% against substantial political risks and a policy framework
inconsistent with the objective of medium-term sustainable growth
and lower dependence on petroleum. In the context of capital
controls and an overvalued exchange rate, the current
expansionary fiscal and monetary stance will face increasing
pressures this year if the government reverts to the domestic
debt market while inflation will likely rise. Furthermore, should
the relaxation of external controls become disorderly and trigger
sizeable capital flight, Venezuela's comfortable external
liquidity position could unravel. A rapid decline in crude oil
prices would pressure both fiscal and external balances.

Politics will remain highly contentious and uncertain over the
coming six to nine months, depressing potential economic activity
and raising political risk. The process to recall President
Chavez could be completed by early May, but Fitch believes the
most likely outcome is that he remains in office through the end
of his term in 2006.

CONTACT:  Fitch Ratings
          Therese Feng
          Phone: +1-212-908-0230

          Roger Scher
          New York
          Phone: +1-212-908-0240

          Matt Burkhard, Media Relations
          New York
          Phone: +1-212-908-0540



               ***********


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 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without prior
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to
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The TCR Latin America subscription rate is $575 per half-year,
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or balance thereof are $25 each.  For subscription information,
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