TCRLA_Public/040729.mbx         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

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

             Thursday, July 29, 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 149



ABRA ENTERTAINMENT: Verification Deadline Approaches
A MARCOS Y COMPANIA: Individual Reports Due Monday
AUTOPISTAS DEL SOL: Ex-Education Minister Appointed to Board
BY CLUB: Trustee Readies Individual Reports
CABALLITO SHOPPING: Up for Auction in September

MULTIOBRAS: Trustee Prepares Reports for Submission
RATTAZZI Y COMPANA: Liquidates Assets to Pay Debt
SEMICA S.A.: Enters Bankruptcy on Court Orders
SILICOM VALLEY: Verification Phase Nears End
STAR SOLUTIONS: Trustee Ends Claims Verification

TAD S.R.L.: Claims Validation Ends Monday
TOWER RECORDS: Name Rights Up for Sale
VIZZO JUAN: Reorganization Concluded


ANNUITY & LIFE: Common Shares Fall Prompts NYSE Delisting


EMBRATEL: Releases July 27 Board Meeting Minutes
EMBRATEL: Summarizes July 23 Stockholders' Meeting Results
GERDAU: Names Andre Johannpeter New COO
* IMF Mission Reviews Brazil's Infrastructure Investment Options


PAZ DEL RIO: Favorable Circumstances Boost Net Income

C O S T A   R I C A

ICE: To Confront Issues Regarding GSM Contract


HYLSAMEX: To Swap CPO Shares for B Shares Next Month


VOLCAN COMPANIA: Reports Profits in 2Q04

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Government Becomes Majority Owner
NWRHA: Presents $107M Debt Report to Health Minister
NWRHA: Auditor Outlined Tax Problems Prior to Tax Scandal


PDVSA: Tender Offer, Consent Solicitation Expire
PDVSA: Yet to Finalize Details of JV With Royal Dutch

     -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -


ABRA ENTERTAINMENT: Verification Deadline Approaches
Creditors of bankrupt Buenos Aires-based Abra Entertainment S.A.
have until Monday, August 2, 2004, to submit proofs of the
Company's indebtedness. All claims must be forwarded to Ms. Sara
Maria Rey de Lavolpe, the trustee, before the deadline in order
to qualify for the payments that will be made once the Company's
assets are liquidated.

Judge Gonzalez of Buenos Aires' Civil and Commercial Tribunal
Court No. 8 handles this case. Dr. Saravia, Clerk No. 16,
assists him.

CONTACT: Abra Entertainment S.A.
         Virrey Loreto 2443
         Buenos Aires

         Ms. Sara Maria Rey de Lavolpe, Trustee
         Cerrito 1136
         Buenos Aires

A MARCOS Y COMPANIA: Individual Reports Due Monday
Accounting firm Estudio Sastre, Lostao & Romano will submit
individual reports from the A Marcos y Compania S.A. bankruptcy
on August 2, 2004. The court will use these documents to decide
on the claimants eligible to receive post-liquidation payments.
The trustee will also submit a general report of the ongoing
bankruptcy on September 14, 2004.

CONTACT: Estudio Sastre, Lostao & Romano, Trustee
         Tucuman 1539
         Buenos Aires

AUTOPISTAS DEL SOL: Ex-Education Minister Appointed to Board
Argentine toll concessionaire Autopistas del Sol SA (Ausol)
named Mr. Juan Jose Llach, former Argentinean Education
Minister, as a new member of the board, reports local daily La

Mr. Llach will not take part in the running Ausol but will have
a role similar to an external auditor.

Ausol recently completed an out-of-court debt restructuring,
known in Spanish as an APE. Of Ausol's US$490 million debt
burden, creditors representing 99.66% signed onto the deal.

Ausol is offering two swap options. The first is a new bond that
matures in 10 years and has a step-up interest rate starting at
3% and going up to 5%. The second alternative comprises five-
year notes with a fixed 7% interest rate and Class D shares of
the company.

Ausol is controlled by a private consortium headed by Sideco
Americana S.A. (SDA.YY).

BY CLUB: Trustee Readies Individual Reports
Individual reports from the By Club S.A. bankruptcy are due for
court submission on Monday, August 2, 2004. Mr. Francisco
Napoli, the court-appointed trustee supervising the case, will
prepare these reports along with the General Report that is also
due for submission on September 14, 2004.

Buenos Aires Court No. 16, assisted by Clerk No. 32, has
jurisdiction over this case.

CONTACT: Mr. Francisco Napoli, Trustee
         Av Callao 67
         Buenos Aires

CABALLITO SHOPPING: Up for Auction in September
Chilean Group Else is poised to buy Caballito Shopping Center
for CLP10 million if no other group tops its bid at the Center's
auction scheduled on September, reports local daily El Cronista.

The purchase could lead to a partnership with 5108, the
Argentinean company that operates the shopping center and owns
the Caballito brand name. 5108 spent some US$6 million to
refurbish the building.

Caballito Shopping Center, once part of bankrupt Hogar Obrero
Group, will be placed on the block by state-owned bank Banco de
la Nacion, the group's main creditor.

The Center's 10,000 square meter floor space is located in the
middle of Buenos Aires. The 80 shops under the complex cater to
an estimated 690,000 visitors per month.

MULTIOBRAS: Trustee Prepares Reports for Submission
Buenos Aires Civil and Commercial Tribunal Court No. 14 expects
to receive individual reports from the Multiobras I.C.S.A.
S.A.I.C.I. bankruptcy case on Monday, August 2, 2004.

Ms. Susana Graciela Marino, the trustee tasked with preparing
the individual reports, is also required to submit a general
report on the case by September 14, 2004. The general report
provides an audit of the Company's accounting and business

CONTACT:  Ms. Susana Graciela Marino, Trustee
          Uruguay 560
          Buenos Aires

RATTAZZI Y COMPANA: Liquidates Assets to Pay Debt
Court No. 13 of San Isidro's Civil and Commercial Tribunal
declared Rattazzi y Compania S.R.L. bankrupt after the company
defaulted on its debt payments. The bankruptcy order effectively
places the company's affairs as well as its assets under the
control of court-appointed trustee, Mr. Mario Sebastian Colla.

As trustee, Mr. Colla is tasked with verifying the authenticity
of claims presented by the company's creditors. The verification
phase is ongoing until August 25, 2004.

On October 6, 2004, the trustee will submit individual reports
based on the forwarded claims for final approval by the court. A
general report will also be submitted on November 17, 2004.

Infobae reports that Clerk No. 7 assists the court on this case,
which will end with the disposal of the company's assets.

CONTACT: Rattazzi y Compania S.R.L.
         Miguel Cane 1350
         San Fernando

         Mr. Mario Sebastian Colla, Trustee
         Ituzaingo 349
         San Isidro

SEMICA S.A.: Enters Bankruptcy on Court Orders
Semica S.A. begins liquidation proceedings after Buenos Aires
Court No. 21, with the assistance of Clerk No. 42, issued a
bankruptcy order against the Company. The order effectively
transfers control of the company's assets to a court-appointed
trustee who will supervise the liquidation proceedings.

Infobae reports that the court selected Mr. Juan Carlos Torres
as trustee. He will be verifying creditors' proofs of claims
until the verification phase ends on November 30, 2004.

Argentine bankruptcy law requires the trustee to provide the
court with individual reports on the forwarded claims and a
general report containing an audit of the company's accounting
and business records. The individual reports will be submitted
on March 1, 2005 followed by the general report, which is due on
April 19, 2005

CONTACT: Mr. Juan Carlos Torres, Trustee
         Bogota 4090
         Buenos Aires

SILICOM VALLEY: Verification Phase Nears End
All claims against bankrupt Silicom Valley S.R.L. must be
submitted to Ms. Beatriz Rosa Mazzaferri, the court's trustee,
by August 2, 2004. The city's Court No. 16 will review these
claims in order to come up with an official list of claimants
against the Company.

Creditors who fail to have their claims validated before the
deadline will be disqualified from receiving any payments to be
made after the Company's assets are liquidated.

CONTACT: Ms. Beatriz Rosa Mazzaferri, Trustee
         Lavalle 1459
         Buenos Aires

STAR SOLUTIONS: Trustee Ends Claims Verification
Creditors with claims against Star Solutions S.A. must present
proof of the company's indebtedness to Mr. Raul Jose Abella, the
trustee, before the verification period ends on August 2, 2004.

These claims will constitute the individual reports to be
submitted in court on September 13, 2004. The court also
requires the trustee to present an audit of the company's
accounting and business records through a general report due on
October 25, 2004.

CONTACT: Mr. Raul Jose Abella, Trustee
         Uruguay 660
         Buenos Aires

TAD S.R.L.: Claims Validation Ends Monday
Mr. Hector R. Martinez, the trustee overseeing the liquidation
of Tad S.R.L., will close the verification of claims on Monday,
August 2, 2004. Creditors are asked to present their proofs of
claims to the trustee before the said deadline.

Tad S.R.L. entered bankruptcy upon the orders of Buenos Aires
Court No. 8 after it defaulted on a US$24,515.04 debt payment to
Mr. Hector Eduardo Cardozo.

         Patagones 2747
         Buenos Aires

         Mr. Hector R. Martinez, Trustee
         Avenida Independencia 2251
         Buenos Aires

TOWER RECORDS: Name Rights Up for Sale
The anonymous group that owns Tower Records music store brand
name rights in Argentina, will sell them to a company without
links with the music industry, reports El Cronista.

Tower started out in Argentina through a partnership between the
head office in California, local businessman Eduardo
Constantini, who had 45% of the shares, and musician Pablo
Zetone, who owned 5%.

In June 1998, the parent company took control of the local
operation saying it and its partners had different views on how
to run the business.

However, the Company decided to exit the country in September
2001 and sold the local franchise to the investment fund, Condor
Ventures. Condor was unable to get the Company back on its feet
and resorted to a formal restructuring proceeding.

In May 2003, Venture sold the remains of the franchise to an
Argentine businessmen, who, a short time later, sold his stake
to an anonymous investor.

VIZZO JUAN: Reorganization Concluded
The settlement plan proposed by Vizzo Juan Carlos y Vizzo Hugo
Alberto S.H. for its creditors acquired the number of votes
necessary for confirmation. As such, the plan has been endorsed
by Court No. 1 of Cordoba's Civil and Commercial Tribunal and
will now be implemented by the company.

CONTACT: Vizzo Juan Carlos y Vizzo Hugo Alberto S.H.
         Rio Cuarto


ANNUITY & LIFE: Common Shares Fall Prompts NYSE Delisting
The New York Stock Exchange (the "NYSE") announced Tuesday that
it determined that the common shares of Annuity and Life Re
(Holdings), Ltd. (the "Company") - ticker symbol ANR - should be
suspended prior to the opening on Friday July 30, 2004. The
Company has advised the NYSE that it will not challenge the

The NYSE's application to the Securities and Exchange Commission
to delist the common shares is pending the completion of
applicable procedures.

The NYSE's action is being taken in view of the fact the Company
has again fallen below the NYSE's continued listing standards as
the average closing price of the Company's common shares has
been less than $1.00 over a consecutive 30-trading-day period.

The Company was previously below this standard from April
through October 2003. The NYSE noted that it may, at any time,
suspend a security if it believes that continued dealings in the
security on the NYSE are not advisable.

Annuity and Life Re (Holdings), Ltd. provides annuity and life
reinsurance to insurers through its wholly owned subsidiaries,
Annuity and Life Reassurance, Ltd. and Annuity and Life
Reassurance America, Inc.

CONTACT: Mr. Jay Burke
         Annuity & Life Re (Holdings), Ltd.
         Phone: 441-296-7667
         Fax:  (441) 296-7665
         Cumberland House
         1 Victoria Street
         Hamilton HM 11
         P.O. Box HM 98
         Hamilton HM AX

         Web Site:


EMBRATEL: Releases July 27 Board Meeting Minutes
DATE, TIME AND PLACE: July 23, 2004, at 7:30 PM, in the
Company's registered offices, located at Rua Regente Feijo, No.
166, suite 1687-B, in the downtown (Centro) district, City and
State of Rio de Janeiro (RJ).

CALL TO MEETING AND PRESENCE: The Members of the Board of
Directors were called to the meeting in a regular manner and
those participating at it were the Board Members signing below.

Agenda and Decisions:

1) Resignations and Election of Executive Officers.
   Consideration and unanimous approval was granted by the Board
   of Directors to the resignations from the positions of
   Company Vice-President, Economic and Finance Director &
   Investor Relations Director submitted, respectively, by
   Messrs. Daniel Eldon Crawford and Norbert Glatt, and both
   were thanked for the dedication they demonstrated in
   performing their functions and for their excellent work.
   Thereupon, the following Executive Officers were appointed
   to replace them:

   (a) Carlos Henrique Moreira, Brazilian, married, engineer,
       bearer of identity card No. 12544-D issued by the Rio de
       Janeiro Chapter of the Regional Engineering,
       Architectural and Agronomy Council (CREA-RJ), registered
       as an individual income taxpayer with the Ministry of
       Finance (CPF/MF) under No. 005.215.077-015, resident
       and domiciled in this City, with commercial address at
       Rua Mena Barreto, No. 42 - 7th floor, Botafogo district,
       City and State of Rio de Janeiro, to serve as President &
       Chief Executive Officer; and (b) Norbert Glatt,
       Brazilian, married, engineer, bearer of identity card No.
       04081138-2 - issued by the Felix Pacheco Institute of Rio
       de Janeiro (IFP/RJ), tax registration No. CPF/MF
       806.680.977-87, resident and domiciled in this City,
       with commercial address at Avenida Presidente Vargas, No.
       1012/15th floor, Centro, City and State of Rio de
       Janeiro, to serve as Economic and Finance Director &
       Investor Relations Director, as well as occupying the
       post of Vice-President until such time as Jose Formoso
       Martinez has complied with the legal formalities required
       by the Brazilian immigration authorities and obtained the
       documentation required from the appropriate authorities
       in order to be appointed to the latter post. The
       Executive Officers hereby appointed submitted to the
       Company a Declaration of Non-Impediment for the purposes
       of Article Art. 147, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Brazilian
       Corporation Law (Law No. 6404/76), and shall remain in
       office to fill out the remaining terms of three (3) years
       of the former officers, who began their terms on April
       19, 2004, as provided by the Company bylaws and
       applicable legislation. Mr. Jose Formoso Martinez,
       Mexican, married, engineer, bearer of Mexican Passport
       No. AGUC194, valid through August 18, 2008, resident and
       domiciled at Encino Grande, No. 98 casa 09 Tetelpan,
       Alvaro Obregon, Mexico, D.F., was appointed to the
       position of Executive Vice-President, a post he will
       occupy after he has complied with the legal formalities
       required by the Brazilian immigration authorities and
       obtained the documentation required from the appropriate

2) Appointment of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Company's
   Board of Directors. Pursuant to the provisions contained in
   Article 20 of the Company's Bylaws, with abstentions duly
   noted for Messrs.. Carlos Henrique Moreira and Jose Formoso
   Martinez, the Council Members voted to appoint Mr. Carlos
   Henrique Moreira to serve as Chairman of the Board of
   Directors and Mr. Jose Formoso Martinez to serve as Vice-
   Chairman of the Board of Directors.

3) Setting the Remuneration of the Board Members. Paying due
   heed to the limit for total annual remuneration of Company
   administrators, as approved by the Annual General Meeting of
   Stockholders held on April 20, 2004, the Board Members
   approved setting the individual monthly remuneration of each
   member of the Board of Directors at eight thousand Reais (R$
   8,000.00). There being no further business to attend to,
   these minutes were drawn up and signed by the Board Members
   present at the meeting. Rio de Janeiro, July 23, 2004.

Signed: Carlos Henrique Moreira; Jose Formoso Martinez; Maria
Silvia Bastos Marques; Dilio Sergio Penedo; Oscar Von Hauske;
Joel Korn; Alberto de Orleans e Braganca; Claudia de Azeredo
Santos - Secretary-General.

CONTACT: Ms. Silvia M.R. Pereira
         Investor Relations
         tel: (55 21) 2121-9662
         fax: (55 21) 2121-6388

         Web Site:

EMBRATEL: Summarizes July 23 Stockholders' Meeting Results
Embratel released the following Extraordinary General Meeting
results from its July 23 stockholders' meeting results:

1) Date, Time and Place: July 23, 2004, at 5 pm in the
   Company's registered offices, located at Rua Regente Feijo,
   No. 166, suite 1687-B, in the downtown (Centro) district,
   City and State of Rio de Janeiro (RJ).

2) Call to Meeting: Notices published, in the manner provided by
   Article 124 of the Brazilian Corporation Law (No. 6404/76),
   in the July 7, 8 and 9, 2004 editions of Valor Economico and
   the Rio de Janeiro Official State Gazette. The cited notices
   were made available to interested parties on the table, with
   reading and transcription thereof having been waived.

3) Stockholders Present: Presence of stockholders of Embratel
   Participacoes S.A. representing more than 51.87% of the
   voting capital was confirmed, according to the registrations
   and signatures contained in the Company's Book for Presence
   of Stockholders. Also present were Mr. Norbert Glatt and Ms.
   Claudia Silva Araujo de Azerˆdo Santos, in their capacity as
   representatives of the Company's administration, and Messrs.
   Edson Giraldo and Erasmo Simoes Trogo, full members of the
   Audit Committee.

4) Table: In the manner provided by Article 13 of the Company
   Bylaws, the proceedings were presided over by the Vice-
   President of the Board of Directors, Mr. Dilio Sergio Penedo,
   who called upon Ms. Claudia Silva Araujo de Azerˆdo Santos to
   serve as Secretary and record these Summary Minutes.

5) Decisions:

   5.1) Unanimous approval was granted by the Stockholders
        present for these Minutes to be drawn up in summary form
        and that publication hereof be made with omission of the
        signatures of the Stockholders present, as allowed,
        respectively, by paragraphs  1 and 2 of Art. 130 of
        Law No. 6404/76.

   5.2) In light of the resignations submitted by the members of
        the Board of Directors, a vote was taken to elect the
        members who will comprise the Board of Directors to
        fill out the terms of office of the Board Members who
        have just resigned until the Annual General Meeting of
        the year 2007 is held. The following persons were
        appointed by Stockholder Startel Participacoes Ltda.:

       (a) Mr. Carlos Henrique Moreira, Brazilian, married,
           engineer, bearer of identity card No. 12544-D issued
           by the Rio de Janeiro Chapter of the Regional
           Engineering, Architectural and Agronomy Council
           (CREA-RJ), registered as na individual income
           taxpayer with the Ministry of Finance (CPF/MF) under
           No. 005.215.077-015, resident and domiciled in this
           City, with commercial address at Rua Mena Barreto,
           No. 42 - 7th floor, Botafogo district, City and State
           of Rio de Janeiro;

       (b) Jose Formoso Mart¡nez, Mexican, married, engineer,
           bearer of Mexican Passport No. AGUC194, valid
           through August 18, 2008, resident and domiciled at
           Encino Grande, No. 98 casa 09 Tetelpan, Alvaro
           Obregon, Mexico, D.F.;

       (c) Maria Silvia Bastos Marques, Brazilian, divorced,
           business executive, bearer of identity card No.
           81.272.167-8 issued by the Felix Pacheco Institute
           of Rio de Janeiro (IFP/RJ) and tax registration No.
           CPF/MF 459.884.477-91, resident and domiciled at
           Avenida Epitacio Pessoa, No. 900, Apt. 102, Lagoa
           district, City and State of Rio de Janeiro;

       (d) Alberto de Orleans e Braganca, Brazilian, married,
           attorney, registered with the Rio de Janeiro Chapter
           of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB/RJ) under No.
           39.678 and tax registration No. CPF/MF
           416.047.507-82, with commercial address at Avenida
           Rio Branco, No. 01, 14th floor A, Centro, City and
           State of Rio de Janeiro;

       (e) Dilio Sergio Penedo, Brazilian, married, engineer,
           bearer of identity card No. RG 32173450-6 issued by
           the Sao Paulo State Secretary of Public Safety (SSP-
           SP), tax registration No. CPF/MF 024.211.787-20,
           resident and domiciled in this City, with commercial
           address at Avenida Presidente Vargas, No. 1012/15th
           floor, Centro, City and State of Rio de Janeiro;

       (f) Joel Korn, Brazilian, divorced, economist, bearer of
           identity card No. 3.361.224-3 issued by the IFP/RJ
           and tax registration No. CPF/MF 042.864.568-20,
           resident and domiciled at Avenida Rui Barbosa, No.
           348, Apt. No. 1701, district of Flamengo, City and
           State of Rio de Janeiro; and

       (g) Oscar Von Hauske, Mexican, married, accountant,
           bearer of Mexican Passport No. 98360026661, resident
           and domiciled at Paseo del R¡o 111, casa 46, Colonia
           Chimalistac, CP 01070, Mexico, D.F. The members of
           the Board of Directors were unanimously elected by
           the Stockholders present. The members of the Board of
           Directors just elected shall remain in office to fill
           out the terms of the Board Members who have just
           resigned, that is, until the Annual General Meeting
           of Stockholders to be held in 2007, or until such
           time as they are dismissed or replaced by the General
           Meeting of Stockholders, and they hereby declare that
           they have not been convicted of any crimes that would
           prevent them from engaging in commercial activities,
           pursuant to the provisions contained in Article Art.
           147, paragraphs 1 and 2 of Law No. 6404/76. As there
           was no further business to attend to, the
           proceedings were suspended for the time required to
           draw up these Summary Minutes. When the session was
           re-opened, the minutes were read, found to be in
           order and signed by all those present.

GERDAU: Names Andre Johannpeter New COO
Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation (TSX: GNA.TO) announced Monday the
appointment of Andre Johannpeter as chief operating officer.

In assuming the key COO leadership position, Mr. Johannpeter
will be responsible for all North American consolidated steel
manufacturing and commercial operations, as well as raw
materials procurement. The addition of a COO to the
organizational structure is reflective of the company's
aggressive growth strategy and the operational demands of
today's competitive steel industry. As chief operating officer,
Mr. Johannpeter will report to Gerdau Ameristeel president and
CEO, Phillip E. Casey.

Commenting on the appointment, President and CEO Phillip Casey
said, "Gerdau Ameristeel is focused on strategic growth and is
pursuing an accelerated capital investment program for
performance improvements in all aspects of our rapidly expanding
steel business. Mr. Johannpeter's exceptional knowledge of our
steel business and his operational experience will be
instrumental in coordinating the daily activities of our
operations. We are fortunate to have Mr. Johannpeter's
management skills and the added flexibility that he brings to
our new organizational framework."

Mr. Johannpeter has over 20 years of steel industry experience
in the international and North American business activities of
the Gerdau Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Johannpeter has
assumed increasingly responsible roles in the leadership of the
company's manufacturing, commercial, and administrative
activities. Mr. Johannpeter has been instrumental to the
aggressive expansion of the North American steel operations and
the successful integration of its diverse business segments.
Since joining Gerdau Ameristeel, Mr. Johannpeter has served as
chief operating officer of the Canadian operations and as vice
president of corporate business development. Mr. Johannpeter
will continue as a member of the board of directors of Gerdau

Gerdau Ameristeel is the second largest minimill steel producer
in North America with annual manufacturing capacity of over 6.8
million tons of mill finished steel products. Through its
vertically integrated network of 11 minimills (including one
50%-owned minimill), 13 scrap recycling facilities, and 32
downstream operations, Gerdau Ameristeel primarily serves
customers in the eastern half of North America. The company's
products are generally sold to steel service centers, to
fabricators, or directly to original equipment manufacturers for
use in a variety of industries, including construction,
automotive, mining, and equipment manufacturing. Gerdau
Ameristeel's common shares are traded on the Toronto Stock
Exchange under the symbol GNA.TO.

CONTACT: Press Office
        +55(51) 3323-2170

         Web Site:

* IMF Mission Reviews Brazil's Infrastructure Investment Options
A mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with
participation of the World Bank and Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB) visited Brazil in the last several days to review the
trends in infrastructure investment in recent years, and
possible options for addressing the most pressing needs in that

The mission met on Tuesday with Minister Palocci to discuss its
preliminary findings. During the meeting, various options were
discussed for stepping up selected public investments in
infrastructure with strong potential for boosting Brazil's
growth over the medium term, within the overall framework of a
macroeconomically sound and sustainable fiscal policy.

Discussions also focused on the need to further strengthen
existing systems of appraisal, selection, implementation and
monitoring of public investments. Options for promoting an
increased involvement of the private sector in the construction
and operation of infrastructure, including through efficient and
fiscally sound private-public partnerships (PPPs), were also

These various issues will be explored further in the weeks ahead
through additional analysis of the information received, and
continued dialogue with the Brazilian authorities. It is
expected that this dialogue will lead to a shared view of the
best way forward before the end of this year.

This mission is part of a series of studies being conducted by
the staff of the IMF, World Bank and IDB in various member
countries to test the approach proposed in the IMF papers on
fiscal policy and public investment, and on PPPs, which are
available on the Fund's website.

         Public Affairs
         Tel: 202-623-7300
         Fax: 202-623-6278

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


PAZ DEL RIO: Favorable Circumstances Boost Net Income
Reduced labor costs, stronger steel prices and international
demand helped Colombia's Acerias Paz del Rio report a stronger
financial performance in the first half of 2004.

Business News Americas reports that the steel company ended the
first half of the year with a net income of US$26 million, 148%
higher than the US$10.5 million posted in the same period last

Given the positive numbers, the company took the opportunity to
pay out US$2.2mn in labor benefits ahead of time, a company
representative, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Business
News Americas. Workers had agreed to the Company withholding
certain labor benefits to help the Company finance its
investment projects due to be completed in 2006.

"As the workers have made the biggest sacrifices, the board
decided to pay these debts to give them more money and meet its
labor obligations," the representative said.

At the moment, the Company's board is considering technical and
economic offers received to carry out an industrial
rationalization contract. It may award the contract during a
board meeting scheduled for Thursday (July 29).

Acerias Paz del Rio is undergoing a restructuring under
Colombia's bankruptcy protection law.

C O S T A   R I C A

ICE: To Confront Issues Regarding GSM Contract
Costa Rica's comptroller general CGR is awaiting electrical and
telecoms monopoly ICE to answer questions raised by the former
regarding a US$120-million deal with Sweden's Ericsson, reports
Business News Americas.

In June, ICE awarded Ericsson a contract to install 600,000 GSM-
technology mobile lines. But the CGR subsequently voided this
contract and gave ICE three weeks to provide more details about
the contract and win CGR approval in the process.

ICE said it plans to deal with the issues surrounding the

"There are many people lamenting this new delay for the tender,
but it is just a small obstacle. Over the next 22 days, ICE
engineers and Ericsson representatives will work very hard to
resolve CGR's questions," ICE director Pablo Cob Sabor¡o was
reported as saying.

"In the act of the awarding of the contract, there was no clear
delineation in relation to the responsibilities," CGR controller
Alex Solis said.

"Neither does the contract make clear at the end of the leasing
agreement what will happen with the ICE property and various
civil works which will be constructed, such as posts, towers and
other pieces of infrastructure necessary for this type of


Grupo Elektra S.A. de C.V. (NYSE: EKT, BMV: ELEKTRA*), Latin
America's leading specialty retailer, consumer finance and
banking services company, reported Tuesday its financial results
for the second quarter of 2004. The Second Quarter Report
highlighted the following items:

1. Consolidated EBITDA reached Ps. 948.8 Million in 2Q04, a 6.7%
YoY increase from Ps. 888.9 million in 2Q03. Gross Profit for
the quarter grew 26.2% YoY.

2. Revenues increased 20.5% YoY from Ps. 5.1 billion in 2Q03 to
Ps. 6.2 billion in 2Q04 due to our competitive pricing
strategies and promotions, the continued good performance of our
three store formats, Elektra, Salinas y Rocha and Bodega de
Remates; and from our Banco Azteca's operations.

3. Merchandise sales for 2Q04 rose 14.1% YoY to Ps. 4.3 billion
from Ps. 3.8 billion in 2Q03. These results highlight the
enhancement of our seasonal advertising strategies, our improved
supply of merchandise, our availability of consumer credit
within our stores and in other channels, our door-to-door
selling initiative, and the initial positive returns from our
relocated stores.

4. During 2Q04, Grupo Elektra redeemed four years in advance all
of its outstanding 12% US$ 275 million Senior Notes due in 2008,
plus its call price and accrued interest. This results in
savings of approximately US$ 40 million in the next four years
and completely eliminates all its liabilities denominated in US
dollars, its foreign exchange risk and its interest expenses in
US dollars.

5. Banco Azteca's gross credit portfolio grew 20.2% QoQ to Ps.
7.1 billion from Ps. 5.9 billion in 1Q04. Our portfolio
continues to be totally funded by our customer deposits of Ps.
12.3 billion in 2Q04, which increased 15.2% QoQ from Ps. 10.7
billion in 1Q04.

Javier Sarro, CEO of Grupo Elektra commented, "Over the second
quarter, our Company showed strong results mainly triggered by
our solid retail and banking operations. Retail operations
continue performing at a dynamic trend in light of our continued
competitive pricing policy; our renewed store expansion and
other initiatives such as our door-to-door selling efforts.
Additionally, the development of our new business, Seguros
Azteca, already evidenced an important acceptance by our

"To support the expansion of our new business units, our new
products and services and the enhanced efficiency of our
distribution network, the Company has experienced some expense
pressure over the recent quarters. However, we expect to start
reaping the benefits through an improved operating leverage by
year-end," added Mr. Sarro.

Rodrigo Pliego, CFO of Grupo Elektra said: "Over the second
quarter, the Company's debt with cost decreased as a result of
the debt restructuring transaction related to the redemption,
four years in advance, of our 12% US$275 million Senior Notes.
This has allowed the Company to fully eliminate its foreign
exchange exposure. Over the coming months, we plan to continue
focusing on our store expansion plan throughout Mexico and our
international operations as we have accomplished the main goals
set in our financial strategy."

"The development of Banco Azteca has been extraordinary. High
margin consumer and cash loans, a rapidly growing deposit base,
a swift extension of consumer credits to third party retailers,
and new products and services, currently pilot-tested, including
mortgage loans and used car financing, have been the main
catalysts for Banco Azteca's remarkable success. We shall
continue focusing on the creation of new financial products and
services aimed at our target market who have placed their trust
on us", commented Carlos Septi‚n, CEO of Banco Azteca.

Mr. Septi‚n continued: "This quarter, Afore Azteca successfully
completed its first year of operations. We are proud to say that
our Afore has not only contributed positively to our Company,
but to our country, as it has generated one of the most
competitive return rates in the industry, with one of the lowest
commissions in the market, benefiting Mexican workers retirement

As a remainder, since the fourth quarter of 2003, we started to
present the results of Banco Azteca and Afore Azteca under the
consolidation method. All figures and discussions detailed in
this press release result from the application of this
accounting method, which provides a clearer overview of Grupo
Elektra. To make these figures totally comparable to those from
prior periods which did not use the consolidation method, we
have reformulated those periods under the same accounting
method, in accordance to the concepts established in Bulletins
A-7 and B-8 of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
(Principios de Contabilidad Generalmente Aceptados) regarding
the comparability and consolidation of figures in financial

2Q04 Financial Highlights

Consolidated Revenues:

Total consolidated revenues increased 20.5% YoY from Ps. 5.1
billion in 2Q03 to Ps. 6.2 billion in 2Q04, the highest level
ever reached in a second quarter. This excellent result is
explained by the continued strong performance in merchandise
sales (14.1% YoY growth), and an increase of more than two times
in financial revenues from Banco Azteca.

Growth in merchandise sales was a consequence of the positive
performance across all our store formats, as revenue from
Elektra, Bodega de Remates, and Salinas y Rocha increased YoY by
15.4%, 9.9% and 6.1%, respectively. Additionally, we continue
registering solid results due to our successful merchandising
strategy "Nobody Undersells Elektra" (Nadie Vende M s Barato que
Elektra), which was also aided by our seasonal promotions and
campaigns during the quarter such as "Elektra Pesos" and "In
Elektra We Make Your Weekly Payments Smaller" (En Elektra
Hacemos tus Abonos M s Chiquitos). The increase in merchandise
revenues is also attributable to our improved product supply
resulting from three additional distributions centers YoY, our
successful compensation plan for employees, and better-prepared
personnel at our stores.

Likewise, the rise in Banco Azteca's financial income is largely
due to the on-going making of consumer credit available in our
stores and in other channels that prefer Banco Azteca as their
choice to finance the purchases of their clients.

Lastly, other income includes Milenia, our extended warranties
services, revenues from our new business units (Afore Azteca and
Seguros Azteca), accrued mark up from our Latin American
operations, and the balance from our credit operations granted
before October 30, 2002. The latter explains the 39.3% YoY

Gross Profit:

Total gross profit experienced a strong 26.2% YoY increase, from
Ps. 2.2 billion to Ps. 2.7 billion in 2Q04, as gross margin
increased 200 basis points YoY from 42.1% to 44.1% in 2Q04.
Gross margin from our merchandise sales decreased 190 basis
points YoY from 29.1% to 27.2% in 2Q04. This reflects our
aggressive competitive price strategy together with our
promotions and campaigns. However, increases in volumes offset
the decline in margins.

EBITDA and Operating Profit:

Consolidated EBITDA reached a record amount for a second
quarter, Ps. 948.8 million or a 6.7% YoY increase from Ps. 888.9
million in 2Q03. The growth in merchandise and Banco Azteca's
revenues, coupled with the increase in consolidated gross margin
partially offset the 39.2% YoY increase in administrative and
selling expenses. The increase in administrative and selling
expenses relates to the hiring and training of employees for our
new business units (Afore Azteca and Seguros Azteca), including
personnel for our door-to-door selling and credit line pre-
approval program, and for our new distributions centers. This is
reflected in the 28.1% YoY increase in headcount, from 19,581
employees at the end of 2Q03 to 25,084 employees in 2Q04.

Operating profit increased by 12.5% YoY as depreciation and
amortization expenses decreased 5.3% YoY. This decrease is due
to Banco Azteca's start-up expenses amortized during 2003, thus
making the consolidated base higher when compared to the figure
reported in 2Q04.

Comprehensive Cost of Financing:

Comprehensive cost of financing for 2Q04 was Ps. 287.3 million,
97.5% higher when compared to the Ps. 145.5 million in 2Q03. The
difference in the cost of financing is explained by:

At the retail level:

- A Ps. 4.7 million decrease in interest income.

- A Ps. 132.7 million increase in interest expense, largely due
to the premium of Ps. 196.0 million paid for redeeming four
years in advance all of our outstanding 12% US$ 275 million
Senior Notes due in 2008.

- A decrease in FX gains of Ps. 0.3 million from 2Q03 to 2Q04.

- A Ps. 4.0 million decrease in monetary gains from 2Q03 to

Net Profit:

Consolidated net profit for the 2Q04 was Ps. 329.4 million,
34.6% lower when compared to the Ps. 503.7 million in 2Q03. Our
strong operating performance was offset by the above mentioned
increase in the comprehensive cost of financing and a Ps. 0.9
million loss from our equity participation in Comunicaciones

Retail Division:

During 2Q04, we continued to harvest the benefits of our
enhanced strategy "Nobody Undersells Elektra" coupled with our
additional seasonal campaign "In Elektra We Make Your Weekly
Payments Smaller" and our door-to-door sales program "Elektra
Pesos". Also, through the addition of three new distributions
centers YoY, we were able to improve the merchandise supply at
our stores in Mexico. Sales volumes were also benefited by the
dynamic trend in all our store formats, as YoY revenue increased
15.4%, 6.1% and 9.9% for Elektra, Salinas y Rocha and Bodega de
Remates, respectively.

Furthermore, our Latin American operations (Guatemala, Honduras
and Peru) continue showing important improvements. This
turnaround reflects the implementation of our proven and
successful strategies, such as our compensation policies for our
employees and our strict expense controls. During the 2Q04,
revenues and gross profits in this geographical region
registered YoY increased of 53.2% and 35.4%, respectively.

Some of the main highlights in the Retail Division include:

Money Transfer Business Line. During the 2Q04, both of our
electronic money transfer services continued to experience a
positive momentum, coupled with our strong advertising and
promotional campaigns. Revenues from Dinero Express, our intra-
Mexico electronic money transfer business, increased 23.7% to
Ps. 92.4 million in the 2Q04 from Ps. 68.7 million in the 2Q03.
Revenues were boosted by a 31.9% growth in the number of
transfers from 917,000 in 2Q03 to 1,210,000 in 2Q04. This
represents a 42.0% increase in the amount transferred, from Ps.
930 million in 2Q03 to Ps. 1.3 billion in 2Q04.

For the 2Q04, revenues from our agency relationship with Western
Union, our electronic money transfer business from the United
States to Mexico, increased 28.9% to Ps. 128.2 million in the
2Q04 from Ps. 99.3 million in the 2Q03. During the quarter, we
transferred the equivalent of Ps. 4.1 billion through 1.4
million transactions, representing YoY increases of 48.1% and
28.7%, respectively.

Telephones (Wireless Products and Services) Business Line.
During the 2Q04, we continued to strongly promote our
advertising strategy, "The House of the Cellular" (La Casa del
Celular), leveraging our position as the only retailer to offer
the four main brands of wireless products and services in
Mexico. Further, in an effort to reduce the waiting time in
lines, we have trained all our store employees to sell airtime
on the spot and outside the cashier, making our transaction
process faster. Additionally, we have worked on broadening our
product selection as well as our inside-store strategies.
Revenues increased 79.8% to Ps. 398.9 million in 2Q04 from Ps.
221.9 million in 2Q03 and the decrease in the gross profit is
explained by an adjustment in our pricing strategy following
market conditions set by our competition. Despite this favorable
trend, we still see a further expansion opportunity for this
business line.

Banco Azteca

Banco Azteca continues to be the fastest growing bank in Mexico,
creating value for Grupo Elektra and benefiting the Mexican
middle class by offering more products and services. For 2Q04,
Banco Azteca reported net income of Ps. 90.9 million, more than
two times the net gain of Ps. 38.0 million recorded in 2Q03.
This outcome comes mainly from the interest income generated
from the positive volume and mix of consumer financing granted
in our stores and in other retailers.

Credimax (Consumer Loans) and Credimax Efectivo (Personal Loans)
Combined Credit Portfolio.

These two products account for 93.6% of our total outstanding
loan portfolio. Despite the enormous success of these products,
we have been extremely cautious in granting other types of
loans, as we have implemented a strict control of the risks
associated for each loan granted.

Our efforts to continue expanding our Credimax (consumer loans)
services at other retailers continue to show encouraging
results, as Banco Azteca's booths increased from 323 desks at
the end of 1Q04 to 421 desks at the end of 2Q04. More pilot-
tests at other retailers are going under way and we expect a
similar trend, allowing us to broaden our base of clients.

At the end of 2Q04, we had a combined total of 3.228 million
active accounts, representing a 5.4% increase from the 3.063
million accounts in 1Q04 and a 29.4% increase over the same
period of last year. Consolidated gross consumer loans increased
23.6%, reaching Ps. 7.9 billion from Ps. 6.3 billion at the end
of 1Q04. Year over year, the gross credit portfolio grew 58.6%
from Ps. 4.9 billion in 2Q03. The average term of the combined
credit portfolio at the end of the 2Q04, was 53 weeks,
representing an increase of four weeks when compared to 2Q03 and
an increase of one week when compared to 1Q04. Personal loans
represented 18.0% of the total consumer portfolio at the end of
2Q04, showing an increase of 270 basis points when compared to
15.3% at the end of 1Q04. The collection rate of Banco Azteca
continues at the same excellent historic level that defines
Grupo Elektra's standard, 98% approximately.

Guardadito (Savings Accounts) and Inversi¢n Azteca (Term

In 2Q04, Banco Azteca increased its deposits, as the different
options launched during 2003 filled our customer's expectations
to continue entrusting their money at our bank branches. Net
deposits showed an outstanding growth of 15.2% QoQ, from Ps.
10.7 billion at the end of 1Q04 to Ps. 12.3 billion in 2Q04, and
almost three times the deposits of 2Q03. Over the quarter, the
total number of accounts rose by approximately 100,000 to 4.2

As of June 30, 2004, the capitalization index of Banco Azteca
was 10.8%, compared to 11.5% as of March 31, 2004, and to 10.5%
as of June 30, 2003. Please recall that the law in Mexico sets
8.0% as the minimum capitalization index requirement.

For the 2Q04, the average funding cost of Banco Azteca was of
3.5%, 10 basis points above that the average funding mix
registered at 1Q04, and 20 basis points below the cost reported
in 2Q03. This trend can be explained by Inversion Azteca's
continued growth in deposits, which has surpassed Guardadito's
deposit growth, and to an increase in the interest rate offered,
from 6 percent to 7 percent, in the 360-day term of Inversion

Afore Azteca

Starting on 4Q03, Afore Azteca's financial results were
consolidated with Grupo Elektra's financial statements, and for
a third consecutive time, our pension management company
registered a positive net income of Ps. 5.0 million for 2Q04
from a net income of Ps. 10.4 million in the previous quarter.
As of June 30, 2004, Siefore Azteca reached Ps. 1.4 billion in
net assets under management, a 43.9% increase over the previous
quarter. It also yielded a 5.84% return in the 2Q04, 289 basis
points above the average rate of the industry of 2.95%.

The number of affiliates reached 41,000 and the number of
assignees was 612,000, both as of June 30, 2004.

Seguros Azteca

During 2Q04, Seguros Azteca started to operate at our Elektra
and Salinas y Rocha's stores throughout Mexico. Please recall
that on October 31, 2003, Grupo Elektra received approval from
the Ministry of Finance to purchase a private insurance company
in Mexico that was later renamed Seguros Azteca, S.A. de C.V.

The two products currently offered by Seguros Azteca are Vidamax
(life insurance) and Vida Saldos (credit life insurance).
Vidamax, a life insurance policy, is offered for an extra Ps. 3,
Ps. 5 or Ps. 10 per week, to all our clients who are granted a
consumer loan from Banco Azteca. Vida Saldos is a credit life
insurance policy in which Banco Azteca will cover the
outstanding balance of the loan granted in case the policyholder
passes away. Seguros Azteca is pilot-testing other insurance
products according to the products and services offered by Grupo
Elektra and Banco Azteca.

Seguros Azteca recorded a net income of Ps. 7.2 million from a
net loss of Ps. 9.1 million from the previous quarter. Total
issued premiums through Banco Azteca's branches reached Ps. 34.4
million in 2Q04 from Ps. 3.0 million in 1Q04.

Financial Condition (Consolidated Balance Sheet)

To continue maintaining clarity in our consolidated balance
sheet, following we discuss certain items included on a
separated basis.

Total cash and cash equivalents rose to Ps. 9.1 billion in 2Q04
from Ps. 3.6 billion in 2Q03, comprised of Ps. 2.7 billion from
the retail division and Ps. 6.4 billion from Banco Azteca. The
retail division cash and equivalents registered a decrease of
9.0% YoY when compared to 2Q03. The result is attributable to
the early redemption of our 12% US$275 million Senior Notes on
April 21, 2004 when we used our retail division's cash position
and cash from our peso-denominated placements during March 2004.
Cash and equivalents from Banco Azteca increased almost 7 times
by Ps. 6.1 billion over the same period a year ago.

Banco Azteca's gross credit portfolio increased 20.2% QoQ to Ps.
7.1 billion in 2Q04 from Ps. 5.9 billion at the end of 1Q04. The
57.5% YoY decrease in the retail division's customer accounts
receivables from Ps. 854.0 million to Ps. 363.2 million has been
compensated by the expansion of Banco Azteca's credit portfolio.
Please recall that the transfer of our credit operations in
Mexico to Banco Azteca explains this trend, and that we continue
to maintain our credit operations of Latin America under the
retail division which is starting to recover.

At the end of 2Q04, total debt with cost in the retail division
was Ps. 3.8 billion, 7.4% lower when compared to Ps. 4.1 billion
at the end of 2Q03, and 44.1% lower when compared to Ps. 6.8
billion of 1Q04. This decline is attributable to the redemption,
four years in advance, of our 12% US$275 million Senior Notes on
April 21, 2004. As a result of these changes, net debt for the
retail division at the end of 2Q04 was Ps. 1.0 billion.
Furthermore, since that date, Grupo Elektra has eliminated all
its liabilities denominated in US dollars and might only carry
peso-denominated debt on its balance sheet

Total net deposits for Banco Azteca continued showing an
outstanding success by increasing 15.2% QoQ to Ps. 12.3 billion
at the end of 2Q04, from Ps. 10.7 billion at the end of 1Q04.
Year-over-year, deposits increased almost three times from Ps.
4.2 billion in 2Q03.

CONTACT: Ms. Samantha Pescador
         Investor Relations
         Tel. (5255) 8582-7819
         Fax (5255) 8582-7822

         Web Site:

HYLSAMEX: To Swap CPO Shares for B Shares Next Month
Mexican steel manufacturer Hylsamex SA informed the Mexican
Stock Exchange of its plans to exchange its CPO shares for B
shares on August 3, relates Dow Jones.

Under the plan, holders will receive one B class share for each
CPO share held.

The move comes after the Company released the shares from a
pledge against debt. The CPO shares were issued in February as
parent Alfa SA (ALFA.MX) spun off the first 39% of its 90% stake
in Hylsamex. The CPO shares represent underlying B shares that
were pledged against bank debt.

Last week, Hylsamex prepaid US$137 million of that debt, which
was more than the minimum required to release the shares from
their pledge.

CONTACT:  Hylsamex S.A. de C.V.
          101 Ave Munich Cuauhtemoc
          66452 San Nicolas de los Garza
          Nuevo Leon
          Phone: +52 81 8865 2828
          Fax: +52 81 8865 1210
          Home Page:
          Engr. Dionisio Garza Medina, Chairman
          Alejandro Elizondo Barragan, Chief Executive Engr


VOLCAN COMPANIA: Reports Profits in 2Q04
Peruvian zinc miner Volcan Compania Minera SAA (VCN.VL) returned
to black in the second quarter of the year with a net income of
PEN9.5 million from a loss of PEN29.8 million in the same
quarter in the previous year.

Citing a report submitted to the Peruvian securities regulatory
agency Conasev on Tuesday, Dow Jones Newswires reports that the
Company attributed the positive turnaround to sharply higher
gross revenue during the quarter.

Total consolidated revenue totaled PEN188.4 million in the
second quarter, compared with PEN134.3 million in the same
quarter of 2003. Higher revenue follows an increase in
international prices for zinc, lead and silver, the Company

For the six-month period, Volcan posted net income of PEN34.6
million compared with a loss of PEN29.4 million in the same
period a year earlier. Total six-month revenue were PEN384.1
million, compared with PEN275.5 million in the same period of

Volcan said that it is using a US$40-million loan taken from
Glencore International AG in January to reduce maturing debt and
for investments to improve production levels. The seven-year
loan, with a two-year grace period, has an interest rate of
Libor plus 3.5%.

Volcan said it had refinanced a syndicated bank loan led by West
LB, moving the maturity date to September 2010 from August 2006,
which will allow $76.7 million of the loan scheduled to come due
between 2003 and 2006, to be repaid between 2007 and 2010.

CONTACT:  Volcan Compania Minera S.A.A.
          Offices: Av Gregorio Escobedo 710 Jesus Mar¡a Lima
          Phone: (51-1) 219-4000
          Fax: (51-1)261-9716

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

BWIA: Government Becomes Majority Owner
The Trinidad government is now at the helm of flagging carrier
BWIA after a recent rights issue, expected to raise US$40
million, failed to attract shareholders, says the Trinidad

Government swooped into BWIA last month by taking up US$30
million of its debt and providing US$10 million for the June
rights issue. However, this issue, which offered 27 new shares
per share held for a US$0.20 price, generated a mere US$500,000.
Since the government had underwritten the offer, the low turnout
has effectively raised its stake in the carrier from 34 percent
to around 75 percent.

Trade Minister Kenneth Valley said that the government will stay
with BWIA only until the airline is back on course and is once
again a viable option for investors. Mr. Valley added that the
government could add another US$20 million to turn around the

BWIA recorded a loss of US$140 million last year.

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

NWRHA: Presents $107M Debt Report to Health Minister
The North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) submitted
Monday a report to Health Minister John Rahael on its US$107
million debt to the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR), says Newsday,
Trinidad & Tobago's online newspaper.

In the report, the NWRHA explained that the money, which was
meant to be paid to the BIR, was used for other financial

The NWRHA deducted $103,727,262 for Pay as You Earn (PAYE) and
$3,520,114 for health surcharge from workers' salaries for the
period May 2002 to June 2004.

According to Newsday, the report provided correspondence, which
showed the Health Ministry was aware the NWRHA was in debt long
before it became public knowledge in the media last week.

The 40-page report was presented by NWRHA chairman, Hugh
Eastman, along with acting chief executive officer (former vice-
president of finance) Carl Nurse and senior vice-president Keith
Toby to Rahael and Permanent Secretary responsible for the
Regional Health Authorities, Reynold Cooper, at an 11 am meeting
at the Ministry, Park Street.

Rahael declined to provide details, saying the Ministry is still
reviewing the report. He also refused to comment on what
disciplinary action, if any, would be taken.

"A lot of information has been provided, we are assessing it and
will get back to everyone in due course," Rahael said.

NWRHA: Auditor Outlined Tax Problems Prior to Tax Scandal
Three years before the tax scandal at the North West Regional
Health Authority (NWRHA) broke out, the Office of the Auditor
General had already made recommendations to strengthen the
NWRHA's tax systems, The Trinidad Guardian reports.

The Auditor General's 2001 special report showed that the NWRHA
then owed almost $13 million in PAYE and NIS payments.

In the report, the Auditor General recommended the following:

- "Urgent steps should be taken to comply strictly with the
Income Tax Act, Chapter 75:01, as it relates to the deduction of
PAYE from the remuneration of all employees as well as the
submission of such deductions to the Board of Inland Revenue."

- "The (North West Regional Health) Authority should take the
necessary steps to remit taxes which were not yet deducted from
the emoluments of certain executive employees."

- "Urgent steps, should also be taken, where necessary, to
comply with the legal requirements as they relate to the
submission of Health Surcharge and NIS deductions."

The Auditor General conducts annual reviews of the governance
and management of all Government and State-owned institutions.


PDVSA: Tender Offer, Consent Solicitation Expire
PDVSA Finance Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de
Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), announced Tuesday the expiration of its
tender offer and consent solicitation for its outstanding notes
listed below. The expiration date of the tender offer and
consent solicitation was 12:00 midnight, New York City time, on
July 26, 2004 (the "expiration date"). As of the expiration
date, holders of an aggregate of approximately 96.34%(1) in
principal amount of the notes have validly tendered and
delivered their consents pursuant to the tender offer and
consent solicitation. Subject to the terms and conditions of the
tender offer, payment for the notes accepted in the tender offer
is expected to occur on or about Monday, August 2, 2004.

Results of Tender Offer and Consent Solicitation

PDVSA Finance has been advised by JPMorgan Chase Bank, the
depositary for the offer, that, as of the expiration date, the
following aggregate principal amount of notes has been validly
tendered, and the related consents delivered and not withdrawn,
pursuant to the tender offer and consent solicitation:

                                     Outstanding     Amount
                        CUSIP/ISIN   Principal      Validly
             Notes          No.         Amount      Tendered
                                          EUR           EUR
6.250% Euro Notes
  Due 2006           XS0096444749  88,400,000    87,449,258
6.650% Notes          693300AE5 /
  Due 2006           US693300AE52 $300,000,000  $291,693,000
9.375% Notes          693300AP0 /
  Due 2007           US693300AP00 $250,000,000  $243,980,000
6.800% Notes          693300AF2 /
  Due 2008           US693300AF28 $300,000,000  $293,859,000
                      693300AC9 /
                      G6954PAC4 /
9.750% Notes          693300AR6 /
  Due 2010           US693300AR65 $250,000,000  $225,810,000
                      G6954PAK6 /
8.500% Notes          693300AU9 /
  Due 2012           US693300AU94 $500,000,000  $471,133,000
7.400% Notes          693300AJ4 /
  Due 2016           US693300AJ40 $400,000,000  $387,335,000
9.950% Notes          693300AT2 /
  Due 2020           US693300AT22 $100,000,000   $97,050,000
                      693300AS4 /
7.500% Notes          693300AK1 /
  Due 2028           US693300AK13 $400,000,000  $394,790,000
Total outstanding principal amount of notes:   $2,607,326,440(1)
Total principal amount of notes validly
  tendered:                                    $2,511,822,144(1)
Percentage of notes validly tendered, considered
as a single class:                                     96.34%(1)

(1) Using an exchange rate of EUR/USD 1.2141 as of 5:00 p.m.,
    New York City time, on July 26, 2004.

As previously announced, concurrently with the tender offer,
PDVSA Finance solicited from noteholders consents to proposed
amendments to certain provisions of the Senior Indenture, as
supplemented, under which each series of notes were issued, and
related transaction documents. The proposed amendments required
the consent of a majority in principal amount of the notes
outstanding, voting as a single class. Sufficient consents have
been delivered to approve the proposed amendments, which is
expected to become operative as soon as practicable after the
expiration date.

Dealer Managers and Consent Solicitation Agents; Luxembourg

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.
served as dealer managers and consent solicitation agents for
the tender offer. The Luxembourg Agent for the offer, is J.P.
Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A.


PDVSA is the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela, formed by the government of Venezuela in 1975. All of
the crude oil and natural gas reserves are located exclusively
in Venezuela and PDVSA's exploration and production of crude oil
and natural gas are conducted exclusively in Venezuela. The
refining, marketing and transportation of crude oil, natural gas
and refined petroleum products of PDVSA are located in Venezuela
as well as in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. PDVSA
Finance, a Cayman Islands company, is the principal financing
vehicle for and a wholly owned subsidiary of PDVSA.

CONTACTS: Gerente Corporativa Asuntos Publicos - PDVSA
          Daniel Cortez, 58 212-708-4808 / 58 416-627-8655

PDVSA: Yet to Finalize Details of JV With Royal Dutch
State oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PVZ.YY) and Royal
Dutch/Shell Group are still trying to iron out details of a
natural gas joint venture, Dow Jones reports, citing Felix
Rodriguez, PdVSA's vice president of production.

But despite the slow pace of talks with its partners, PdVSA has
begun logistical planning and engineering studies for the
project, Rodriguez said.

"We have work that we need to do, we can not depend on
negotiations with the other partners," said Rodriguez.

Last November the government signed a preliminary deal to
develop the project. Under the deal, PdVSA would have a 60%
stake; Shell would hold a 30% stake; Japan's Mitsubishi Corp.
(8058.TO) would hold 8%; and Venezuelan investors would hold the
remaining 2%.


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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