TCRLA_Public/040316.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, March 16, 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 53



DISCO: Argentine Govt Opinion Still Pending on Sale to Cencosud
FLETAMAR SAC: Court Approves Creditor's Bankruptcy Petition
IMPSA: Chihuido Could Get Neuquen OK Within 45 Days
LA MONTOVANA: Preventative Bankruptcy Gets Court Approval
MAGRAPH SRL: Declared Bankrupt By Court

METROGAS: Will Have New CEO as of April 12
SHOW SPORT: Controller Concedes Company Virtually Broke
SIDECO AMERICANA: Forex Effects Help Narrow Net Loss in 2003


* S&P Affirms Belize's Long-Term Ratings; Outlook Stable


FOSTER WHEELER: Awarded Iraq Oil Sector Management Contract
LORAL SPACE: MBSAT Satellite Successfully Launched


AMBEV: Encounters First Legal Challenge to Interbrew Deal
CEMIG: Minas Gerais Seeks to Reclaim Shares
EMBRATEL: MCI Gives Potential Buyers Until Friday for Bids


AES GENER: Places $400M Worth of 10-Yr. Bonds


AVIANCA: Reports Burgeoning Losses in 2003


PARMALAT NICARAGUA: Banks Turn Cold Shoulder to Debt Swap


PAN AMERICAN: Completes Common Share Financing


GALICIA URUGUAY: Concludes First Stage of Bond Swap


CANTV: To Market IBM Computers
PDVSA: Declining Gasoline Cargoes Send CITGO to Spot Markets
PDVSA: Cardon Catcracker Restart Anticipated This Week
PDVSA: President Selects New Vice Presidents
* Venezuela Sells $1B Dollar-, Bolivar-Denominated Bonds

     - - - - - - - - - -

DISCO: Argentine Govt Opinion Still Pending on Sale to Cencosud
Argentina's Economy Ministry sent out a communique Wednesday
saying the government is yet to form its view on Chilean
retailer Cencosud SA's plan to purchase the Disco supermarket
chain. The memorandum is a direct retort to comments from
Patricia Vaca Narvaja, the under secretary for Defense of
Competition and the Consumer, who said Tuesday that she is
"strongly opposed" to the sale. She said it would lead to
concentration in the sector and therefore harm consumers.

The communique said "the issue of (market) concentration is
under the exclusive authority of the National Committee of
Defense of Competition" - Argentina's antitrust body. "Those
agencies of the central administration will make a decision via
relevant rulings and resolutions. As a result, any reference to
the concentration (issue) made by whatever official is their own
opinion and doesn't represent the views of the Economy

The statement said the Economy Ministry had issued the
communique "in order to avoid confusions that could affect the
process of investments in Argentina."

Cencosud said Friday that it would pay around US$315 million to
buy Disco from Dutch retail giant Royal Ahold NV. The purchase
would give Cencosud a 22% market share in Argentina's
supermarket sector. Cencosud didn't comment on Vaca Narvaja's

The government's statement went on to say that authorities still
hadn't been formally informed of Cencosud's plans, and that once
they were, they would carry out a "detailed analysis of the

While the government gave no indication of its view of the deal,
it gave some extra details of what it will consider when it
makes a decision.

The statement said any ruling will take into account the effect
of the market concentration in the sector, "in as far as it can
restrict or distort competition in a way that can damage the
general economic interest, that's to say, the efficiency of the
general economy and therefore the consumers."

The decision on whether to approve the Cencosud-Disco deal is in
the hands of an independent committee, which is run by Vaca
Narvaja's office. Once the relevant papers are presented by the
companies, the committee has 45 working days to make a decision
on the case, though this period can be extended.

Its ruling then goes to Argentina's Secretary of Technical
Coordination Leonardo Madcur, who has the power to modify the
ruling. The companies, if unhappy with the ruling, can challenge
it in court.

FLETAMAR SAC: Court Approves Creditor's Bankruptcy Petition
Judge Garibotto of Buenos Aires Court No. 3 declared local
maritime company Fletamar SAC bankrupt, La Nacion reveals on its
Web site. The process will close with the liquidation of the
Company's assets to repay creditors. The bankruptcy ruling
grants a petition filed by one of the Company's creditors,
Roxana Scabani, for nonpayment of debt amounting to

The court, which is assisted by Clerk No. 3 Dra. Vassallo,
appointed Antonio Gargiulo as receiver, who will verify
creditors' claims until May 19, 2004. The receiver will also
prepare the individual and general reports on the bankruptcy
proceedings. Deadlines for the submission of these reports will
be determined at a later date.

CONTACT:  Fletamar SAC
          Flat No. 3
          Avenida Corrientes 327
          Buenos Aires

          Antonio Gargiulo, Receiver
          Office 301, Flat No. 3
          Uruguay 385
          Buenos Aires

IMPSA: Chihuido Could Get Neuquen OK Within 45 Days
The contract for the Chihuido II water supply-hydroelectric
project of the Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona SA (IMPSA)-
Lagarde consortium could get the approval of Southern
Argentina's Neuquen provincial legislature in 45 days, IMPSA
commercial director Hernan Guinazu told Business News Americas.

Once the contract is approved by the Neuquen legislature,
Guinazu said the ironing out of the project's financial and
engineering details would follow. The construction of the
project is to commence next year at the earliest.

IMPSA-Lagarde was awarded the construction and 25-year operating
contract in March last year after the group submitted a US$711-
million bid for the project. Apart from private financing, the
project will also include provincial and federal funding.

The plant will be built on the Neuquen River and will have 228MW
installed capacity, with average annual output of at least
1,052GWh. A 100km transmission line will connect the plant to
the national grid.

Chihuido's reservoir, which will cost some US$375 million, will
irrigate some 7,000ha, and also help control flooding in the Rio
Negro valley. A 50km open-air water supply channel is also being

LA MONTOVANA: Preventative Bankruptcy Gets Court Approval
Judge Dieuzeide of Buenos Aires Court No. 1 approved the
"Concurso Preventivo" petition filed by local cleaning services
company La Montovana de Servicios SA, reports La Nacion. The
court, assisted by Clerk No.2 Dr. Pasina, named Hector
Caferatta, as receiver, who will verify creditors' claims until
May 14, 2004. The verification process is that stage of a
reorganization wherein the nature and amount of the Company's
debts will be determined.

The court will set a date soon for the submission of the
individual and the general reports. However, it has set a
schedule for the informational assembly on February 23, 2005.

In its petition for reorganization, La Montovana declared assets
of US$156,418.53 and liabilities of US$623,689.65.

CONTACT:  La Montovana de Servicios SA
          Constituyentes 4268
          Buenos Aires

          Hector Caferatta, Receiver
          Office "A", Flat No.2
          Laprida 2145
          Buenos Aires

MAGRAPH SRL: Declared Bankrupt By Court
Judge Gutierrez Cabello of Buenos Aires Court No. 6 declared
graphics business Magraph SRL bankrupt, according to a La Nacion
report. The process will close with the liquidation of the
Company's assets to repay creditors. The bankruptcy ruling
grants a petition filed by Argentine bank Banco Rio de la Plata
SA for nonpayment of debt amounting to US$13,424.04.

The court, which is assisted by Clerk No. 11 Dr. Piatti,
appointed Mauricio Rosenblum as receiver, who will verify
creditors' claims until May 24, 2004. The receiver will also
prepare the individual and general reports on the bankruptcy

Deadlines for the submission of these reports will be determined
at a later date.

          Viamonte 2881,
          PLANTA BAJA

          Mauricio Rosenblum, Receiver
          Flat No. 7
          Bartolome Mitre 2296
          Buenos Aires

METROGAS: Will Have New CEO as of April 12
Argentina's leading natural gas distributor Metrogas SA (MGS)
will have a new chief executive officer come April 12, 2004,
reports Dow Jones. Metrogas' current CEO Luis Augusto Domenech
is leaving his post to become CEO of Comgas, a Sao Paulo gas
utility company. Roberto Brandt, who is currently Metrogas'
Director of Corporate Affairs, will be replacing Domenech, a
Metrogas official said, adding that she doesn't know why the
change at Comgas was taking place.

Both Metrogas and Comgas are operated by BG Group PLC (BG.LN).

Metrogas earlier reported a net loss of ARS10.2 million
($1=ARS2.9175) for 2003, narrowing its net loss of ARS489.9
million from a year earlier.

          Gregorio Araoz de Lamadrid 1360
          Buenos Aires
          CPA C 1267
          Phone: +54 11 4309 1010
          Fax:  +54 11 4309 1025
          Home Page;
          William Harvey Alvarez, President

SHOW SPORT: Controller Concedes Company Virtually Broke
Argentine sportswear chain Show Sport, a unit of nearly bankrupt
textile concern Gatic, is facing a critical situation. Ianson,
the firm that controls Show Sport, is virtually broke, according
to a Gatic top executive. The chain that reached a total of 130
outlets in the mid nineties would only have around 35 stores
operating nowadays. Only 8 of its own stores are currently
working. Nevertheless, the employees who are working there say
they don't know how long will these branches remain open.

What's more, some of them are being managed by creditors. Others
have been failing to pay the rent. Sources close to the creditor
banks said Ianson is not included in Gatic's formal
restructuring proceeding.

Show Sport began to face supply woes in the end of 2003, as a
result of the paralysis of Gatic's 8 plants. The stores have
been selling what was left in the warehouse, until they run out
of stock.

On the other hand, franchised stores are not doing so bad, since
they can resort to other suppliers.

SIDECO AMERICANA: Forex Effects Help Narrow Net Loss in 2003
Argentine public services and infrastructure holding Sideco
Americana narrowed its net loss in 2003 due to positive exchange
rate effects of the holding's debt restructuring efforts,
reports Business News Americas.

In a filing to Argentina's securities regulator (CNV), the
Company revealed a net loss of ARS286 million in 2003, down from
a loss of ARS451-million in the previous year.

However, net sales fell 3.95% to ARS738 million in 2003, a sign
that the Company is yet to emerge from the effects of the
economic crisis. Sideco posted a ARS36.7-million operating loss
in 2003, compared to a ARS157 million operating loss the year

Sideco's interests include engineering and construction firm
Iecsa which operates in Argentina, Brazil and Chile;
environmental services (waste management) through Qualix in
Brazil; and highway concessions in Argentina (Autopistas del
Sol, Servicios Viales and Puentes de Litoral) and Brazil
(Rodovias das Colonias and Rodovia das Cataratas).


* S&P Affirms Belize's Long-Term Ratings; Outlook Stable
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed its 'B+' long-term
foreign and 'BB-' long-term local currency sovereign credit
ratings on Belize. Standard & Poor's also affirmed its 'B'
short-term foreign and local currency ratings on the sovereign.
The outlook remains stable.

According to credit analyst Olga Kalinina, the ratings on Belize
remain constrained by weak external liquidity, a high public
sector debt burden, and vulnerability to external events.

"The stable outlook balances Standard & Poor's expectation for
continuing improvement in fiscal performance and stronger growth
prospects arising from recent promising diversification efforts
against a high external vulnerability that could undermine the
progress in both," Mrs. Kalinina said. "Therefore, a planned
reduction in the general government deficit to 0.9% of GDP in
2004 (including a social security surplus of 0.7% of GDP), down
from 3.3% in 2003 and 4.3% in 2002, is key to stabilizing the
government's high debt burden and to building up reserves," she

Belize's public sector debt is one of the highest among rated
sovereigns, standing at 106% of GDP in 2003-up from 75% in 2000
and well above the 'B' median's 82%. General government debt
stood at 73% of GDP in 2003.

"Stronger fiscal and liquidity indicators could lead to improved
creditworthiness," noted Mrs. Kalinina. "On the other hand,
fiscal slippages or new balance-of-payments pressure could lead
to a further increase in debt, which would undermine the peg
with the U.S. dollar.
This, in turn, could impair the government's creditworthiness,"
she concluded.

ANALYST:  Olga Kalinina, CFA, New York (1) 212-438-7350
          Helena Hessel, New York (1) 212-438-7349  


FOSTER WHEELER: Awarded Iraq Oil Sector Management Contract
Foster Wheeler Ltd. (OTCBB: FWLRF) is pleased to announce that
its UK subsidiary, Foster Wheeler Energy Limited, has been
awarded the Oil Sector Program Management Office (SPMO) support
contract in Iraq by the U.S. Department of Defense. Foster
Wheeler will provide dedicated program management and
coordination support for all design and construction activities
being performed for the Program Management Office (PMO) in this
sector. The initial value of the Foster Wheeler contract is $6.8
million, which covers the first six months' services.

"We are delighted with news of the award," said Ian Bill,
chairman and chief executive of Foster Wheeler Energy Limited.
"This award reflects our world-class program management,
engineering, procurement and construction skills and our
extensive experience in the oil sector. We have a very
successful track record in the Middle East, especially in the
reconstruction of Kuwait. Our involvement with Iraq's oil sector
began in the 1930s with the construction of the first oil
processing units at Kirkuk and has included the development of
the Daura and Basra facilities."

The contract is part of the international effort to restore the
damaged and neglected infrastructure of Iraq. It is one of six
SPMO contracts covering various sectors under the general
oversight of the Program Management Office established by the
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The Iraq Program
Management Office (PMO), part of the Coalition Provisional
Authority, manages the $18.4 billion appropriated by the U.S.
Congress to support the reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure.
This office is responsible for all activities associated with
program, project, asset, construction and financial management
of that portion of the reconstruction effort undertaken by the
U.S. The goal of PMO, and the prime contractors who are
selected, is to maximize Iraqi capabilities, and to leave Iraq
with the tools and processes to continue the work begun under
the Coalition Provisional Authority. Part of the objective of
the contract is, therefore, to work with the Iraqi Ministry of
Oil and to provide training to Iraqi personnel.

Foster Wheeler Ltd. is a global company offering, through its
subsidiaries, a broad range of design, engineering,
construction, manufacturing, project development and management,
research and plant operation services. Foster Wheeler serves the
refining, oil and gas, petrochemical, chemicals, power,
pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and healthcare industries.

LORAL SPACE: MBSAT Satellite Successfully Launched
The MBSAT broadcast communications satellite, built by Space
Systems/Loral (SS/L) for Mobile Broadcasting Corporation (MBCO)
of Japan and SK Telecom of Korea, was successfully launched at
12:40 am EST Saturday. The satellite was sent into space on an
International Launch Services (ILS) Atlas III rocket from the
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The MBSAT satellite will be positioned at 144 degrees East
longitude, where it will deliver high-quality music, video and
data to mobile users in Japan and Korea through a variety of
mobile terminals, including those in cars, ships, trains,
handheld terminals, personal digital assistants, cellular phones
and home portables. A very small antenna will be sufficient to
receive these broadcast signals even inside buildings and in
vehicles moving at high speeds.

"The MBSAT satellite will host one of the most cutting edge
applications driving the satellite industry beyond basic
broadcasting," said C. Patrick DeWitt, president, Space
Systems/Loral. "SS/L has built a reliable, powerful and flexible
spacecraft that will provide numerous multimedia applications in
Japan and Korea for years to come."

The satellite carries two high power transponders for direct
broadcasting services, with one transponder providing coverage
for Japan and the other for Korea. Two additional transponders
provide links to terrestrial repeater networks, which augment
the satellite broadcast signal. Each transponder has an
operating bandwidth of 25 MHz, allowing more than 50 channels of
audio, video and data services.

The new spacecraft uses SS/L's space-proven three-axis, body-
stabilized 1300 bus, tailored for the MBSAT payload. This
payload combines high power phase matched transmitters with a
12-meter unfurlable reflector, providing exceptional coverage
and quality of service. SS/L's satellites are designed to
achieve long useful orbital life through use of bipropellant
propulsion and momentum-bias systems for excellent
stationkeeping and orbital stability. The MBSAT on orbit
performance is further enhanced by use of Stationary Plasma
Thrusters for orbital maneuvers. A system of high-efficiency
solar arrays and lightweight batteries provide over 7400 watts
of uninterrupted electrical power over the 12 years of satellite

Mobile Broadcasting Corporation was established to provide cars
and mobile terminals with digital satellite broadcasting for
audio, video and data services throughout Japan. MBCO's new
broadcasting system was authorized by the Japanese Government
and registered with the ITU. MBCO's major shareholders are
Toshiba, SK Telecom, NTT Data, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance,
Toyota, Fujitsu, Nippon TV and Panasonic. So far 55 Japanese
companies are MBCO partners. Several foreign companies own
significant interests in the MBCO business venture while many
others are currently considering investment. For more
information, visit MBCO's web site at

SK Telecom Co., Ltd. is Korea's leading wireless
telecommunications services provider and a pioneer in the
commercial development and provision of high-speed wireless data
and Internet services. The company serves nearly 18 million
subscribers throughout Ko-rea, the majority of whom own data-
capable handsets. SK Telecom has established a new company, TU
Media Corp. with more than 150 investor companies. TU Media
Corp. will provide mobile digital multimedia broadcasting
services throughout the Korean Peninsula. For more information,
visit SK Telecom's web site at and TU Media
Corp's web site at

Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space &
Communications (OTCBB: LRLSQ), is a premier designer,
manufacturer, and integrator of powerful satellites and
satellite sys-tems. SS/L also provides a range of related
services that include mission control opera-tions 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. SS/L satellites have amassed more than 1000 years of
reliable on-orbit service. SS/L is ISO 9001:2000 certified.


AMBEV: Encounters First Legal Challenge to Interbrew Deal
Fomento Economico Mexicano SA (Femsa), Mexico's biggest beverage
maker, announced Friday that one of its units has taken legal
steps to block the transfer of control of its U.S. beer
distribution network to Brazil's Companhia de Bebidas das
Americas (Ambev), according to the Associated Press.

Texas-based Wisdom Import Sales Co., a subsidiary of Femsa's
beer unit, filed a suit in the U.S. federal court in New York's
Southern District to block parts of the merger announced March 3
between Ambev and Belgian brewer Interbrew SA.

"Wisdom has not agreed to be in business with AmBev and it has
the clear and unfettered right to prohibit that result," the
company said in its filing to the court.

Wisdom Import represents Femsa's 30% interest in Labatt USA, a
joint-venture distribution network between Femsa and Interbrew.

Under the merger, Interbrew is offering to give Ambev control of
its North American operations, including its 70% stake in Labatt
USA and its 30% stake in Femsa's beer unit.

Interbrew issued a statement saying it regretted Femsa's action,
"but we are confident that it will not interfere with the
planned combination of Interbrew and AmBev."

"While we believe the suit is without merit," it added, "it does
not change our previously stated desire to resolve our
commercial differences with Femsa on a basis that makes sound
business sense for all parties."

CEMIG: Minas Gerais Seeks to Reclaim Shares
The government of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is seeking
to recover 14% of the total capital of the stocks of Cemig,
which is currently in the hands of the SEB consortium, reports
Valor Economico. SEB, composed of U.S. power group AES Corp.,
Mirant (formerly Southern Electric) and Brazilian investment
bank Opportunity, acquired the stake in 1997 for US$1.05
billion, paying a 100% premium. The consortium loaned US$526
million from the Brazilian development bank BNDES (Banco
Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social) to help it buy
the stake. However, SEB has defaulted debt payments to BNDES
since May 2003. The stocks have been given to BNDES as

Now, the Minas Gerais government wants BNDES to repossess the
shares - 14% of the total capital and 33% of the voting capital.

          Luiz Fernando Rolla, Investor Relations
          Phone:  + 011-5531-299-3930
          Fax: + 011-5531-299-3933

EMBRATEL: MCI Gives Potential Buyers Until Friday for Bids
Investors vying for a controlling stake in Brazilian phone
company Embratel had until Friday to make their bids, reports
Reuters. U.S. operator MCI put Embratel on the block in November
as part of a reorganization plan approved by a U.S. bankruptcy
court. Sources said MCI had given potential bidders until Friday
to make their bids, but it was unclear whether there would be
further bidding.

On Friday, a source close to Telos, the pension fund of Embratel
workers, said the fund and a "large international bank" had made
a joint bid for a 52% voting stake in the Embratel, which is
Brazil's leading long-distance operator.

At the same time, a separate source close to the negotiations
confirmed that Mexico's Telmex presented a bid for Embratel.

A third group led by Spain's Telefonica, Brazil's Tele Norte
Leste Participacoes (Telemar)(nyse: TNE) and Brasil Telecom
Participacoes (nyse: BRP) were also expected to make a bid.

Eduardo Roche, a telecom analyst at BES Securities, said the
stake could go for around US$500 million, but that the price
could be pushed higher if the groups start a bidding war.

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


AES GENER: Places $400M Worth of 10-Yr. Bonds
Chilean generator AES Gener (GENER.SN), a unit of U.S. utility
AES Corp (AES), informed securities regulator SVS that it sold
US$400 million of ten-year bonds at 7.521% yield on Friday. The
bonds will be formally issued on March 22. Deutsche Bank
Securities was the placing agent.

The Company had originally planned to issue US$300 million but
increased the amount because demand was higher than expected.
The higher issue means that the Company no longer needs a US$75-
million syndicated loan it had planned to take, it said in a
press statement.

Gener plans to use the funding from the sale to buy back
existing debts, as part of its broader effort to restructure its
balance sheet.

          Mariano Sanchez Fontecilla 310 Piso 3
          Santiago de Chile
          Phone: (56-2) 6868900
          Fax: (56-2) 6868991
          Home Page:
          Robert Morgan, Chief Executive
          Laurence Golborne Riveros, Chief Financial Officer


AVIANCA: Reports Burgeoning Losses in 2003
Colombian airline Avianca S.A. saw its losses widen in 2003 due
to higher pension payouts as well as non-recurring costs that
included the liquidation of former partner airline Aces, reports
Dow Jones. Colombia's flagship airline, which is currently
engaged in bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S., said net losses
soared to COP309.7 billion in 2003 from COP102.5 billion in the
previous year.

Operating revenues rose 11% to COP1.561 trillion during the
year, helped by restructuring efforts implemented in the first
quarter of 2003 and higher ticket sales, the airline said

Ticket sales, which reached COP1.374 trillion last year,
accounted for 88% of operating revenues. Avianca said it reduced
operating costs by 2% to COP1.115 trillion in 2003.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper has delayed until
March 26 a hearing at which Avianca will ask for an extension of
a period to form a plan for emerging from bankruptcy.

The airline had said it needed more time to continue negotiating
with potential investors. Avianca attorney John Scott had told
the judge the airline has not yet received a "concrete proposal"
from the investors.

Should the request be granted, the deadline for submitting a
restructuring proposal, now set for March 30, would be pushed
back for the fifth time to April 30.

U.S. bankruptcy law automatically gives a company that files for
Chapter 11 protection four months to submit a reorganization
plan for approval by creditors and the court. A judge may extend
the period. Once the deadline has expired, creditors may submit
their own plan.

Avianca has a U.S. subsidiary, which allowed it to seek Chapter
11 proceedings last March to try to renegotiate at least US$269
million in debt while continuing to operate. U.S. law is more
generous with debtor companies than Colombian legislation.

          Avenida Eldorado, No. 93-30
          Bogota, Colombia
          Phone: +57-1-413-9511
          Fax: +57-1-413-9702
          Home page:
                    Vytis Didziulis, President
                    Leonor Montoya, Chairman
                    Nelson Gnecco, VP Administration and Finance


PARMALAT NICARAGUA: Banks Turn Cold Shoulder to Debt Swap
Parmalat Nicaragua's proposal for an equity-for-debt swap was
shunned by two Central American banks Friday, Reuters reports,
citing an executive from one of the creditor banks.

"The situation of Parmalat in the world puts at risk the
interests of banks and therefore we must do everything possible
to collect (the debt)," Jose Campa, a representative of Panama's
Tower Bank, told a news conference in Nicaragua.

Parmalat Nicaragua, a unit of collapsed Italian food group
Parmalat, and the only large milk company in the poverty-
stricken Central American nation, owes Tower Bank and
Nicaragua's Banco de America Central US$5 million.

A special Parmalat administrator sent to Nicaragua from Italy
has proposed the debt-for-equity swap to avoid an auction of
assets tentatively scheduled for Monday.

"Our reply has been that we are commercial banks and not
investment banks, and we are not in a position to do an exchange
of debt for shares," Campa, who was speaking on behalf of both
banks, said.

"The credit that we gave [Parmalat Nicaragua] was for local
working capital in Nicaragua, [but] the company diverted these
funds to Italy." said Campa.

But the banks, according to Campa, are willing to work out a
deal with Parmalat Nicaragua.

"We are willing to seek other mechanisms, and in fact, we are
talking with them," said Campa.

If the bank debt is not paid, judicial authorities are
tentatively scheduled to auction off Parmalat Nicaragua assets
on Monday, including machinery and vehicles. The firm's total
assets have been estimated at US$53 million.


PAN AMERICAN: Completes Common Share Financing
(all amounts in $US unless otherwise stated)

Pan American Silver Corp. (PAAS: NASDAQ; PAA: TSX) closed the
common share financing announced on February 27. An
institutional investor has purchased 3,333,333 common shares of
Pan American Silver Corp. at a price of $16.50 per share for
aggregate gross proceeds of $55 million.

As previously announced, Pan American intends to use the
proceeds of this common share financing to fund the proposed
acquisition of the Morococha silver mine in Peru and for general
corporate purposes.

CONTACT:  Brenda Radies, VP Corporate Relations
          (604) 684-1175


GALICIA URUGUAY: Concludes First Stage of Bond Swap
Banco Galicia Uruguay SA, a unit of Argentina's Banco de Galicia
y Buenos Aires SA (GALI.BA), ended the first stage of a bond
swap for holders of its bonds and certificates of deposit,
relates Dow Jones.

The Argentine parent informed the Buenos Aires stock exchange
late Friday that Galicia Uruguay's extended survey to gauge
interest in the exchange ended Feb. 20 with the number of
interested holders staying within the limits Banco Galicia
Uruguay had set.

Therefore, no modifications will be made in the offer, the
Company said in the filing. The bank didn't set a timeframe for
the actual swap.

Under the proposal, the bank is offering US$17.50 in cash and
US$82.50 in government-issued, dollar-denominated BODEN 2012
bonds for every US$100 in the bank's bonds or certificates of
deposit. Banco Galicia Uruguay said it would swap up to US$300
million in bonds and certificates.

The bank launched the survey on Dec. 9 to see who might be
interested and extended it by one week to make sure everyone had
time to respond. The survey included clients of Banco Galicia
(Cayman) Ltd., the Cayman Islands branch of Banco Galicia

Uruguay's central bank closed Banco Galicia Uruguay in February
2002 as Argentina's financial crisis spilled over into the
neighboring country. At that time, about US$1.2 billion in
deposits were frozen. Banco Galicia Uruguay has extended other
deposit-return options to its clients and some deposits are
already being given back under a nine-year plan launched in late
2002. The bank's suspension is slated to end on March 31.

CONTACT:  Banco de Galicia Y Buenos Aires
          Tte Gral Juan D Peron 407
          Buenos Aires
          Phone: +54 11 6329 0000
          Fax: +54 11 6329 6100
          Home Page:
          Juan Martin Etchegoyhen, Chairman
          Antonio R. Garces, Vice Chairman

          Grupo Financiero Galicia SA
          2nd Floor
          No 456 Tte Gral Juan D Peron
          Buenos Aires
          Argentina 1038
          Phone: +54 11 4343 7528/9475
          Home Page:
          Atty. Abel Ayerza, Chairman


CANTV: To Market IBM Computers
As part of a new unlimited Internet access plan, CANTV (Compania
Anonima Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela) (NYSE: VNT) said that
it will be marketing IBM computers in partnership with IBM
Venezuela, Business News Americas reports, citing a CANTV
statement. The plan requires clients VEB360,000 as down payment.
They are then given the option to pay off the rest in 30
installments without interest, for a final price of VEB1.2

Initially, this promotion is available only in Caracas, but will
soon expand to the rest of the country in a month. Internet
service subsidiary charges an additional VEB22,600 a
month for the unlimited access dial-up plan. Cantv is
Venezuela's largest telephone company.

CONTACT:  Gustavo Antonetti
          CANTV Investor Relations
          FAX: 011-58-212-500-1828

          Mariana Crespo
          The Global Consulting Group

PDVSA: Declining Gasoline Cargoes Send CITGO to Spot Markets
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has been forced to cut back
on gasoline shipments to its U.S. subsidiary CITGO Petroleum
Corp. due to the country's recent unrest, reports Dow Jones.
As a result, the Tulsa-based unit is now buying some gasoline
cargoes in the spot market in order to offset the shortfall.

"The volume of cargoes has been reduced and pushed us out into
the spot market for the cargoes we didn't lift from Venezuela,"
said Jerry Thompson, CITGO's chief operating officer.

Recent unrest in Venezuela, however, hasn't disrupted crude oil
shipments to CITGO.

"Right now we see absolutely no impact on (oil) supply,"
Thompson said. "We are lifting our full contract commitments
from Venezuela."

CITGO doesn't expect another disruption in Pdvsa's crude
deliveries because of the Venezuela state oil company's
reorganization last year, following a two-month general strike
that hindered crude oil and petroleum product exports.

"Based on the reorganization Pdvsa underwent in 2003, I see it
as highly unlikely that there would be a repeat of the
disruption," Thompson said.

Company executives did acknowledge, however, that ratings
agencies remain concerned about the Company's ability to supply
its refineries with crude oil in the event of another Venezuela
supply disruption.

CITGO's contingency plan for supplying its plants remains
similar to last year, when it had to buy crude oil on the open
market to make up for the shortfall from Pdvsa during the
strike, executives said.

CONTACT:  CITGO Petroleum Corporation
          6100 S. Yale
          Tulsa, OK 74136

MAILING ADDRESS:  CITGO Petroleum Corporation
                  P.O. Box 3758
                  Tulsa, OK 74102

PDVSA: Cardon Catcracker Restart Anticipated This Week
The catalytic cracker at the 305,000 barrel-a-day Cardon
refinery of Venezuelan state-run oil company Petroleos de
Venezuela SA (PVZ.YY) is expected to restart within the week,
Dow Jones reports, citing a source close to plant operations.

With majority of the maintenance work on the unit already
finished, the source said, "It should start up next week, around
Wednesday or Friday."

The maintenance programs at the refinery have been pointed to by
market sources as the reasons for the decline in January and
February of Venezuelan gasoline shipments to the U.S.

Cardon is part of the 940,000 b/d Paraguana refining complex in
eastern Venezuela, which mainly supplies the export market.
PDVSA restarted operations at the smaller El Palito refinery
earlier this year, which mainly services the domestic fuel

PDVSA: President Selects New Vice Presidents
Three new vice presidents for PDVSA were appointed by Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez Friday, Dow Jones reports, citing the
Associated Press. The appointments of Ivan Hernandez, Felix
Rodriguez and Jose Rojas as new vice presidents appeared in
Friday's Official Gazette, a government publication listing key
decisions made by the executive. President Chavez appointed
three of them to divide management over exploration and
production, refining and finance. They will replace Aires
Barreto, who resigned last week for personal reasons.

This is the first time President Chavez has reshuffled PDVSA's
executive board since the aftermath of last year's two-month
opposition strike that paralyzed Venezuela's oil industry before
fizzling out.

For joining the strike, approximately half of the Company's
workforce -- roughly 18,000 -- were fired by President Chavez.

Venezuela is the third-biggest producer in the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries, the world's No. 5 oil exporter
and a major supplier of crude oil and gasoline to the U.S.

* Venezuela Sells $1B Dollar-, Bolivar-Denominated Bonds
Venezuela's finance ministry announced Friday that the
government sold US$1.5 billion of dollar- and bolivar-
denominated debt to domestic investors to finance its budget
gap, relates Bloomberg News.

In a statement, the ministry said the government sold US$500
million of 6-month dollar bonds to yield 1.15% and US$1 billion
worth of four- and five-year bolivar bonds. The four-year bonds
yielded 14.93% and the five-year bonds 14.85%.

The government initially offered US$375 million of bonds and
increased the amount offered Friday when demand for the bonds
surged to US$4.2 billion, says Bloomberg.

The size of the sale underscores how government debt represents
one of few investment options for Venezuelans, said Irene Costa,
an analyst with Banco Mercantil in Caracas. Government-imposed
restrictions on currency trading make it difficult for people to
buy dollars and a slump in the South American economy has made
most other domestic investments unattractive.

"This sale shows there's huge demand for dollars and dollar
assets," Costa said. "Since exchange controls, there's been a
lot of liquidity and few investment options for locals."


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

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