TCRLA_Public/041124.mbx         T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

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

         Wednesday, November 24, 2004, Vol. 5, Issue 233

                            Headlines



A N T I G U A   &   B A R B U D A

* ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: IMF Concludes Article IV Consultation


A R G E N T I N A

AUTOPISTAS DEL SOL: S&P Issues `argB+' Ratings to Several Bonds
BANCO NACION: To Strengthen Foothold In SME Segment
BARBARAS S.A.: Court Designates Trustee for Bankruptcy
CABILDO SOLEADO: Court Orders Liquidation
CINEMATOGRAFICA LARA: Initiates Bankruptcy Proceedings

ELIAS Y ROBERTO SASBON: Gears for Reorganization
FILE NET S.A.: Liquidates Assets to Pay Debts
GERI CLUB: Trustee to Close Verification Period
HERMAR S.R.L.: Verification Deadline Approaches
IRSA: Convertible Notes Holder Exercises Conversion Right

* ARGENTINA: Seeks Replacement for BNY as Exchange Agent


B A R B A D O S

SUNBEACH COMMUNICATIONS: Top Executives Intend to Quit


B E R M U D A

GLOBAL CROSSING: Develops Partner Channel Program Globally
MRM: Updates Status of Suit Against John Hancock


B R A Z I L

BANCO VOTORANTIM: Ups Eurobond Issue
EMBRATEL: Concludes Local Commercial Paper Issue
GERDAU: Announces Secondary Public Offering of Shares



D O M I N I C A

* DOMINICA: IMF Board Extends Repayment Expectations


M E X I C O

AHMSA: Energy Costs Hurt Ability to Compete With Rivals
TV AZTECA: To Prepay $69M of $129M Notes
VITRO: IFC in Talks With Subsidiary for $200M Loan


V E N E Z U E L A

PDVSA: Chavez Appoints New Company President

     -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

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

* ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: IMF Concludes Article IV Consultation
----------------------------------------------------------
On November 15, 2004, the Executive Board of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with
Antigua and Barbuda.

Background

Economic growth accelerated in mid-2003, reaching close to 5
percent for the year as a whole, driven by a sharp recovery in
the tourism sector. Strong tourism arrivals data for the first
half of 2004, improved tax collections to end-June, and
continued growth in deposits with the banking system, point to
the economic momentum carrying over into this year, with growth
anticipated to reach 4 percent in 2004. Inflation remains low
under the currency board arrangement.

Fiscal imbalances narrowed in 2003 as financing constraints
forced expenditure compression. The primary balance of the
central government improved by 3 percent of GDP in 2003. While
payments on wages and salaries plus transfers increased
modestly, other expenditure items-particularly payments for
goods and services-were cut sharply. Arrears-obligations
incurred by the central government but not paid-are estimated to
have increased by 10« percent of GDP during 2003.

A modest improvement in fiscal outcomes is expected in 2004,
reflecting the continuing recovery in growth and a small net
positive effect from policy adjustments, but the government is
able to meet only some of its obligations in a timely manner.
Revenues in the first half of the year are significantly higher
than the same period of last year, reflecting stronger growth
and a large increase in receipts from stamp duties due to a
surge in real estate sales. Collections for the year as a whole
will likely show only a modest improvement, as the tourism
growth is anticipated to taper off in the second half of the
year and revenues from petroleum products decline in the absence
of pass-through of recent increases in world oil prices. Initial
expenditure policy adjustments have added to the wage bill in
the near-term-wage increases were granted to certain groups of
workers, while the decision to retire public servants who exceed
the retirement age led to an increase in severance payments. The
primary deficit of the central government is expected to improve
by 3/4 percent of GDP over 2003, but the accumulation of new
arrears is likely to fall only modestly to 9 1/2 percent of GDP.

With the recovery in the tourism sector, the external current
account deficit has narrowed. The real depreciation of the EC
dollar had little impact on the trade balance. The current
account deficit was financed by FDI into the tourism sector,
land sales to nonresidents, and a further increase in arrears.

Monetary aggregates have continued to grow in line with economic
growth. Deposit growth has been used by commercial banks to
increase foreign asset holdings, as credit to the private sector
has stagnated and net credit to the public sector has increased
only marginally.

The regulatory and supervisory framework for the offshore banks
has strengthened significantly over the last few years. Bank
examination procedures were recently amended to address credit
policies, loan loss provisioning, large exposure limits, and
connected lending.

Progress in broader structural reforms has been made.
Particularly noteworthy is the long-delayed introduction of
ASYCUDA at two of the ports of entry that will both strengthen
customs administration and significantly improve the flow of
data on external transactions. The implementation of the fourth
stage of CARICOM's Common External Tariff also shows a
commitment to fulfill regional obligations.

EXECUTIVE BOARD ASSESSMENT:

Executive Directors welcomed the new administration's resolve to
address Antigua and Barbuda's deep-rooted problems head-on and
its openness in discussing difficult issues. Fiscal
mismanagement and deterioration of institutions over the past
two decades have resulted in a large buildup of public debt and
of domestic and external payments arrears.

Directors urged the new administration to adopt a medium-term
economic strategy aimed at fiscal consolidation, raising
economic growth rates by creating an enabling environment for
the private sector to flourish, and rebuilding institutions to
support the fiscal and growth objectives.

Directors called for a large upfront fiscal adjustment as a key
step in regaining fiscal balance and clearing arrears. This
would involve increasing revenue through strengthened tax policy
and administration, including a reduction of tax exemptions and
the reintroduction of a personal income tax. Directors urged a
comprehensive public sector reform to reduce expenditure-
including through reduction of the very high level of public
sector employment-and to enhance the efficiency of government
service provision. This should be accompanied by the
introduction of an appropriate safety net.

Directors emphasized that re-building institutions is crucial
for implementing and sustaining the reform effort, and
ultimately for achieving the authorities' growth and fiscal
objectives. They recommended putting in place an effective and
transparent system of cash and commitment expenditure
management, introducing incentives in the civil service to
reward good performers, and reforming the two-tier system of
public sector employment. They also recommended that steps be
taken to enhance public accountability, transparency, and
governance, including: closer monitoring of public enterprises,
routine auditing of all government accounts, improving customs
and tax administration, and introducing a system of effective
penalties for noncompliance with tax laws.

Directors encouraged the authorities to take steps to enable
Antigua and Barbuda to achieve its high-growth potential. While
welcoming the authorities' plan to establish a one-stop window
aimed at streamlining bureaucratic procedures for new business
initiatives, Directors recommended leveling the playing field
for foreign and local investors, limiting the role of the public
sector to providing basic public goods and services that are
complementary to private sector activities, and enhancing
efficiency in public utilities. Directors encouraged the
government to take a lead role in supporting and engaging in
regional initiatives, such as the Caribbean Single Market
Economy, which would provide new opportunities for growth.

Directors were encouraged by the continuing progress in
strengthening the regulation and supervision of the offshore
financial sector. Directors also encouraged the authorities to
continue to work closely with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
to further strengthen the supervision of domestic banks,
including by approving and implementing the amendments to the
Uniform Banking Act, and to ensure an appropriate level of
supervision for nonbank financial institutions.

Directors noted the urgent need to strengthen the quality and
coverage of the statistical database in the areas of the
national accounts-especially the tourism sector and related
services-labor market developments, the public debt, and
monitoring the outcomes of the broader public sector. They also
saw room for greater regional collaboration on data issues. They
encouraged the authorities to enhance reporting under the GDDS,
and to seek technical assistance through CARTAC and other
donors.

Directors expressed concern about the high level of
vulnerabilities facing Antigua and Barbuda in light of the
frequency of natural disasters, the high debt, and the openness
of the economy. They encouraged the authorities to formulate a
contingency plan to respond to shocks, and to continue with
efforts to reduce financial sector vulnerabilities and mitigate
the impact of natural disasters.

To view selected economic indicators:
http://bankrupt.com/misc/Antigua.htm

CONTACTS: International Monetary Fund
          External Relations Department
          700 19th Street, NW
          Washington, D.C. 20431 USA

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

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



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

AUTOPISTAS DEL SOL: S&P Issues `argB+' Ratings to Several Bonds
---------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's International Ratings, Ltd. Sucursal Argentina
assigned an 'argB+' rating for the following corporate bonds
issued by Autopistas del Sol S.A.:

- US$112,334,466 worth of bonds described as "Obligaciones Neg.
con descuento con cotizaci›n a 5 aos de vencimiento, monto
original" with undated maturity.

- US$49,306,639 worth of bonds described as "Obligaciones Neg.
con descuento sin cotizaci›n a 5 aos de vencimiento, monto
original" with undated maturity.

-  US$215,225,419 worth of bonds described as "ONS a tasa de
inter,s escalonada creciente a 10 aos de vencimiento, monto
original" with undated maturity.

The ratings, posted by securities regulator Comision Nacional de
Valores(CNV) in its web site, were based on the Company's
financial standing as of September 30, 2004.

S&P explains that bonds with `argB+' ratings face exposure to
adverse business or economic conditions that could lead to an
issuer's inadequate capacity to meet its obligations.


BANCO NACION: To Strengthen Foothold In SME Segment
---------------------------------------------------
Federal Argentine bank Banco Nacion, the country's largest
export and import financier for SMEs, plans to boost its
operations in the segment next year, Business News Americas
reports, citing a banking executive.

Nacion's senior VP and head of financial institutions and
correspondent banking Patricio Suarez said the SME segment has
always been a core business for Nacion.

According to Suarez, the import and export-financing business in
Argentina is already highly competitive and he expects other
large state banks and private banks to attack that segment in an
aggressive fashion next year.

Nacion's competitive advantage in that segment rests on its vast
SME client portfolio and in particular on its geographical
presence, which is nationwide in contrast to many private banks
that are focused on capital Buenos Aires and the surrounding
province, he said.


BARBARAS S.A.: Court Designates Trustee for Bankruptcy
------------------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires accountant Silvio Gustavo Gorbacz was assigned
trustee for the bankruptcy of local Company Barbaras S.A.,
relates Infobae.

The trustee will verify creditors' claims until December 22, the
source adds. After that, he will prepare the individual reports,
which are to be submitted to the Court on March 7, 2005. The
submission of the general report should follow on April 18,
2004.

The city's Court No. 24 holds jurisdiction over this case with
the assistance of Clerk No. 18.

CONTACT: Barbaras S.A.
         Avda Corrientes 4006
         Buenos Aires

         Mr. Silvio Gustavo Gorbacz, Trustee
         Leandro N Alem 651
         Buenos Aires


CABILDO SOLEADO: Court Orders Liquidation
-----------------------------------------
Cabildo Soleado S.R.L. prepares to wind-up its operations
following the liquidation pronouncement issued by Court No. 9 of
Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal. The declaration
effectively prohibits the Company from administering its assets,
control of which will be transferred to a Court-appointed
trustee.

Infobae reports that the Court appointed Mr. Raul Jose Abella as
trustee. He will be reviewing creditors' proofs of claims until
March 10, 2005. The verified claims will be the basis for the
individual reports to be presented for Court approval on May 3,
2005. Afterwards, the trustee will also submit a general report
on June 24, 2005.

The city's Clerk No. 17 assists the Court on this case that will
end with the disposal of the Company's assets to pay its
liabilities.

CONTACT: Cabildo Soleado S.R.L.
         Avda Cabildo 1586
         Buenos Aires

         Mr. Raul Jose Abella, Trustee
         Uruguay 660
         Buenos Aires


CINEMATOGRAFICA LARA: Initiates Bankruptcy Proceedings
------------------------------------------------------
Court no. 17 of Buenos Aires' civil and commercial tribunal
declared Cinematografica Lara S.R.L. "Quiebra," reports Infobae.

Mr. Miguel Angel Drucaroff, who has been appointed as trustee,
will verify creditors' claims until December 2 and then prepare
the individual reports based on the results of the verification
process. The individual reports will be submitted in Court on
February 3, 2005, followed by the general report on March 3,
2005.

The city's Clerk No. 33 assists the Court on the case that will
close with the liquidation of the Company's assets to repay
creditors.

CONTACT: Mr. Miguel Angel Drucaroff, Trustee
         Avda Corrientes 2470
         Buenos Aires


ELIAS Y ROBERTO SASBON: Gears for Reorganization
------------------------------------------------
Court No. 10 of Resistencia's civil and commercial tribunal
issued a resolution opening the reorganization of Elias y
Roberto Sasbon S.R.L. says Infobae.

The pronouncement authorizes the Company to begin drafting a
settlement proposal with its creditors in order to avoid
liquidation. The reorganization further allows the Company to
retain control of its assets subject to certain conditions
imposed by Argentine law and the oversight of the Court
appointed trustee.

Ms. Gladis Norma Arzamendia, serving as trustee during the
reorganization, closed the validation of creditors' proofs of
claims on September 28. She will be providing the Court with a
general report of the case on February 9 next year. The general
report summarizes events relevant to the reorganization and
provides an audit of the Company's accounting and business
records.

The Company will present the completed settlement proposal to
its creditors during the informative assembly scheduled on July
13, 2005.

CONTACT: Elias y Roberto Sasbon S.R.L. (En Liquidacion)
         Arturo Frondizi 217
         Resistencia (Chaco)

         Ms. Gladis Norma Arzamendia, Trustee
         Pueyrredon 208
         Resistencia (Chaco)


FILE NET S.A.: Liquidates Assets to Pay Debts
---------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires-based File Net S.A. will begin liquidating its
assets following the pronouncement of the city's civil and
commercial Court No. 14 that the Company is bankrupt, Infobae
reports.

The ruling places the Company under the supervision of Court-
appointed trustee Abel Alexis Latendorf. The trustee will verify
creditors' proofs of claims until February 14, 2005. The
validated claims will be presented in Court as individual
reports on March 30, 2005.

Mr. Latendorf will also submit a general report, containing a
summary of the Company's financial status as well as relevant
events pertaining to the bankruptcy, on May 15, 2005.

The bankruptcy process will end with the disposal of the
Company's assets to pay its creditors.

CONTACT: Mr. Abel Alexis Latendorf, Trustee
         Piedras 153
         Buenos Aires


GERI CLUB: Trustee to Close Verification Period
-----------------------------------------------
The verification of creditors' claims for the Geri Club S.A.
liquidation proceedings is set to end on Friday, November 26.
All required documents should be forwarded to Court-appointed
trustee Juan Facoltini before the verification period closes.

Judge Paez Castaneda of Buenos Aires' civil and commercial Court
No. 21 handles this case with help from Dr. Rey, the city's
Clerk No. 41.

CONTACT: Geri Club S.A.
         Estados Unidos 1451
         Buenos Aires

         Mr. Juan Facoltini, Trustee
         Bernardo de Irigoyen 330
         Buenos Aires


HERMAR S.R.L.: Verification Deadline Approaches
-----------------------------------------------
Mr. Jose Salem Ini, the trustee supervising the liquidation of
local Company Hermar S.R.L., will close the verification of
creditor's claims on Friday, November 26. All claims should be
submitted within the verification period to qualify for any
post-liquidation distributions that will be made.

Judge Paez Castaneda of Buenos Aires' Civil and Commercial
Tribunal Court No. 21 handles this case. Dr. Barreiro, the
city's Clerk No. 42 assists the Court with the proceedings.

CONTACT: Hermar S.R.L.
         Gaboto 867
         Buenos Aires

         Mr. Jose Salem Ini, Trustee
         Teniente General Juan Domingo Peron 1730
         Buenos Aires


IRSA: Convertible Notes Holder Exercises Conversion Right
---------------------------------------------------------
Inversiones y Representaciones Sociedad Anonima informed the
Bolsa de Comercio de Buenos Aires and the Comision Nacional de
Valores that a holder of the Company's Convertible Notes has
exercised its conversion right. Hence, the financial
indebtedness of the Company shall be reduced in US$125,000 and
an increase of 229,357 ordinary shares face value pesos 1 (V$N1)
each was made. The conversion was performed according to terms
and conditions established in the prospectus of issuance at the
conversion rate of 1.83486 shares, face value pesos 1 per
Convertible Note of face value US$ 1. As a result of that
conversion the amount of shares of the Company goes from
258,256,202 to 258,485,559. On the other hand, the amount of
registered Convertible Notes is US$ 86,930,920.


* ARGENTINA: Seeks Replacement for BNY as Exchange Agent
--------------------------------------------------------
Argentina is searching for a new global exchange agent to carry
out the restructuring of more than US$100 billion in defaulted
debt after the contract with the Bank of New York collapsed.

According to a Reuters report, Argentina hoped to hire JP Morgan
as its agent to handle the documentation of a bond swap.

The Bank of New York told Argentina last week that the
government's Nov. 29 launch date was not feasible. But the
Economy Ministry has said it plans to launch the swap of up to
US$41.8 billion in new bonds for US$102.6 billion in defaulted
government debt in Buenos Aires on Nov. 29, regardless of
whether regulators in other countries have given the debt offer
their approval by that date.

"If the decision to launch on November 29th is a final one, then
we very much regret that BNY will have to resign its role as
Global Exchange Agent," the Bank of New York said in a letter to
Finance Secretary Guillermo Nielsen dated Nov. 18.

Besides JP Morgan, Wall Street analysts said that Citigroup and
Deutsche Bank were the most likely able to handle a
restructuring of such size and complexity.



===============
B A R B A D O S
===============

SUNBEACH COMMUNICATIONS: Top Executives Intend to Quit
------------------------------------------------------
Sunbeach Communications, which provides dial-up Internet
services in Barbados and the Eastern Carribean, are likely to
see two top directors leave the Company at the end of the year.

The Barbados Daily Nation reports that Managing Director Michael
Wakley and Finance Director John Moir plan to quit their posts
at the end of December if the Company fails to raise the $52
million required to launch its cellular service.

The directors revealed their intentions following a long and
thorough grilling from investors who were prepared to accept
nothing but clear and precise answers on the Company's financial
state.

Some Sunbeach shareholders have expressed concern about issues
of corporate governance in the Company's operations.

One of those is accountant Arwin Atwell, who cited the 2004
annual report, which showed nearly three quarters of a million
dollars due for services to companies owned by directors or top
personnel in the Company.

The 2004 annual report showed that year-end balances recorded by
Sunbeach arising from amounts due to related parties included
$259,000 to DPD Holdings Limited which is owned by executive
director Damian Dunphy. This is up from $20,125 in 2003.

In addition, $227,500 was due to a Company called Tele
International, Inc., which is owned by Mr. Wakley. This compares
to $18,500 in 2003.

Another sum of $256,856 was due to Mark Harris, Inc., owned by
Mark Harris who also works with Sunbeach. This was up from
$56,856 the previous year.



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

GLOBAL CROSSING: Develops Partner Channel Program Globally
----------------------------------------------------------
Global Crossing (NASDAQ: GLBC) announced Monday the geographic
expansion of its partner channel program, highlighting its
commitment to this distribution channel with a robust portfolio
of solutions and high-end support. The program is designed to
support partners in delivering high-value, flexible
communication services to their customers.

"Businesses of all sizes are embracing IP and converged
communications," said Paul O'Brien, Global Crossing's senior
vice president, global enterprise. "Our customers depend on us
to design, build and manage their high-performance networks, and
we're seeking partners who share our vision to bring customers
the benefits of IP and the highest level of satisfaction."

Since re-launching its partner channel program in March 2004,
Global Crossing has increased its master agent force by 58
percent, demonstrating its commitment to this important channel.
The Company is reaching out to IP-centric agents who target
multi-located medium enterprises and are intent on delivering
advanced solutions to these customers.

"Global Crossing has consistently been a responsive partner who
makes it easy to sell," said John Kirby, president of Southwest
Communications. "At a time when other carriers are de-
emphasizing their programs, it's gratifying to see growing
opportunities with Global Crossing."

Global Crossing offers its customers a customized transition
path to communications convergence. The Company's MPLS-based
network enables its suite of robust, managed IP solutions
including Voice over IP (VoIP), IP VPN and IP Video services.

Partners with IP expertise, a full funnel of enterprise
customers and a strong commitment to customer satisfaction are
encouraged to call the Global Crossing Partner Support Center at
+1 800-450-1601 or to send an e-mail to
MyPartners@globalcrossing.com for more details. Partners joining
Global Crossing to deliver advanced, flexible solutions will
find that they can differentiate themselves in a very
competitive landscape through:

- Converged IP, data and voice services delivered quickly and
backed by Global Crossing's commitment to customer satisfaction.

- An aggressive compensation plan that rewards partners for
bringing Global Crossing's innovative, scalable solutions to
customers.

- A partner that is focused on growth, with an expansion plan to
Europe and Latin America, two regions with growing
telecommunications needs.

- Strong executive commitment, including the recent addition of
two seasoned executives to support and interact with the
customer channel.

- A streamlined service model that delivers a consistent
customer experience, worldwide.

- A user-friendly extranet featuring multimedia selling tools
and easy navigation.

- A centralized partner support center that can handle routine
back office tasks, freeing up agents to sell.

- Timely, accurate billing and flexible pricing models that
empower partners to do business and keep business.

uCommand, Global Crossing's industry-leading account management
portal.

uCommand, Global Crossing's Customer Service Portal, is a unique
offering that delivers 24x7 self-service autonomy. This secure,
private Web-based network management tool allows customers to
order data services, monitor its network, create utilization
reports, establish end-user and product accounts, and view
monthly billing reports.

About Global Crossing

Global Crossing provides telecommunications solutions over the
world's first integrated global IP-based network. Its core
network connects more than 300 cities and 30 countries
worldwide, and delivers services to more than 500 major cities,
50 countries and 6 continents around the globe. The Company's
global sales and support model matches the network footprint
and, like the network, delivers a consistent customer experience
worldwide.

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

CONTACTS: Press Contacts
          Ms. Catherine Berthier
          Phone: + 1 646-862-8514
          e-mail: PR@globalcrossing.com

          Analysts/Investors Contact
          Ms. Laurinda Pang
          Phone: +1 800-836-0342
          e-mail: glbc@globalcrossing.com

          Web Site: http://www.globalcrossing.com/


MRM: Updates Status of Suit Against John Hancock
------------------------------------------------
Mutual Risk Management Ltd. (MRM) announced Monday that the
federal judge presiding over its multi-million dollar claim for
tortious interference against John Hancock Life Insurance
Company (Hancock) has denied Hancock's motion to have the case
dismissed and set the matter for a jury trial in April in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

MRM contends that Hancock's unjustified refusal to make payments
on reinsurance treaties to insurance companies owned by MRM were
instrumental in causing MRM's default and subsequent
reorganization. By Order dated November 8, 2004, Senior Judge
Norma L. Shapiro disagreed with Hancock's argument that the case
should not proceed to trial because it was not brought in a
timely manner. This is the second time the Court has denied
Hancock's requests to have the case dismissed without a trial on
the merits of the case.

A spokesman for MRM stated that "We are gratified by the Court's
recognition that we are entitled to present the facts of this
unfortunate situation for the jury's consideration."

One of MRM's insurance Company subsidiaries, Legion Insurance
Company, is currently being liquidated in Pennsylvania under the
direction of Pennsylvania's Insurance Commissioner, M. Diane
Koken. On October 29, 2004, Commissioner Koken filed an
application to have a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge
confirm an arbitration award entered in Legion's arbitration
against Hancock for Hancock's failure to pay reinsurance
proceeds to Legion. According to the application, unanimous
decisions of the arbitrators awarded Legion: (1) almost $7
million in damages (inclusive of interest) and 90% of Legion's
attorneys' fees for amounts due under the reinsurance treaties:
and (2) most recently on October 14, 2004, another $21,500,000
representing consequential damages, interest, costs and
attorneys' fees arising from Hancock's wrongful conduct. The
arbitrators awarded Hancock nothing on its counterclaims. In a
recent filing opposing the application, Hancock stated that it
"paid in full by way of wire transfer the Phase III arbitration
award, including the award of interest and attorney's fees."

MRM contends that the arbitration awards establish the nature of
Hancock's unjustified conduct regarding the Legion reinsurance
receivables and fully support MRM's claims that Hancock's
actions were instrumental in causing significant damage to MRM.



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

BANCO VOTORANTIM: Ups Eurobond Issue
------------------------------------
Brazilian bank Banco Votorantim boosted its initially planned
US$50 million eurobond issue to US$75 million, reports Business
News Americas. The 18-month bonds will pay an 18.5% yield for
investors and will be issued through the bank's Nassau branch.
The operation will be led by Votorantim Bank and Banco Itau BBA
with Deutsche Bank acting as manager.


EMBRATEL: Concludes Local Commercial Paper Issue
------------------------------------------------
Embratel Participacoes S.A. (Embratel Participacoes or the
"Embrapar") (NYSE: EMT; BOVESPA: EBTP3, EBTP4), the Company that
holds 98.8 percent of Empresa Brasileira de Telecomunicacoes
S.A. ("Embratel"), announced Monday that its subsidiary Embratel
concluded the issuance of local commercial paper.

Embratel issued R$1 billion of promissory notes at an interest
of 102.3 percent of the CDI with a term of 180 days. This Real
based issue is part of the loans Embratel is in the process of
obtaining in order replace expensive debt obtained in the March
2003 financing agreement. With this issue Embratel expects to:

(i) lower the overall cost of debt;
(ii) gain more flexibility to invest; and
(iii) further improve credit profile to obtain even better
financing conditions at a later date in the next 12-months
period.

Embratel is the premier communications provider in Brazil
offering a wide array of advanced communications services over
its own state of the art network. It is the leading provider of
data and Internet services in the country and is well positioned
to be the country's only true national local service provider
for corporate customers. Service offerings include: telephony,
advanced voice, high-speed data communication services,
Internet, satellite data communications, corporate networks and
local voice services for corporate clients. Embratel is uniquely
positioned to be the all-distance telecommunications network of
South America. The Company's network has countrywide coverage
with 32,466 km of fiber cables.

CONTACT: Ms. Silvia M.R. Pereira
         Investor Relations
         Phone: (55 21) 2121-9662
         Fax: (55 21) 2121-6388
         e-mail: silvia.pereira@embratel.com.br
                 invest@embratel.com.br


GERDAU: Announces Secondary Public Offering of Shares
-----------------------------------------------------
Metalurgica Gerdau S.A. (Bovespa: GOAU) and Gerdau S.A.
(Bovespa: GGBR; NYSE: GGB; Latibex: XGGB) in compliance with the
Brazilian Securities Commission (Comissao de Valores Mobiliarios
- CVM) Regulation # 358 of January 3rd 2002, announced Monday
that an application for registration was filed before Brazilian
Securities Commission concerning a secondary public offering of
10.1% of common shares issued by Metalurgica Gerdau S.A. and
held by Gersul Empreendimentos Imobiliarios Ltda., as well as a
secondary public offering of 10.0% of common shares issued by
Gerdau S.A. and held by Santa Felicidade Comercio, Importacao e
Exportacao de Produtos Siderurgicos Ltda. and by Metalurgica
Gerdau S.A. Both of the offerings will be simultaneously carried
out in Brazil, by means of a public auction in the Sao Paulo
Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Valores de Sao Paulo), pursuant to
article 6 of Regulation # 400, of December 29, 2003, and to
Regulation #168, of December 23, 1991.

CONTACT: Gerdau S.A.
         Avenida Farrapos 1811
         Porto Alerge, RS 90220-005
         Brazil
         Phone: +55 3323 2000
         Web Site: http://www.gerdau.com.br



===============
D O M I N I C A
===============

* DOMINICA: IMF Board Extends Repayment Expectations
----------------------------------------------------
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
today approved a one-year extension of Dominica's repayment
expectations to the IMF in a total amount equivalent to SDR 1.32
million (about US$2.0 million) arising on December 2, 2004 and
March 2, June 2, September 2, October 28 and December 2, 2005.
The repayments will now fall due exactly one year after these
dates.

IMF policy on repayment expectations allows for an extension
where the member's external position is not sufficiently strong
for it to repay early without undue hardship or risk. Because a
decision to approve an extension of repayment expectations is a
technical one, it is not based on an assessment of the
authorities' economic program.

CONTACT: International Monetary Fund
         External Relations Department
         700 19th Street, NW
         Washington, D.C. 20431
         USA

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

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



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

AHMSA: Energy Costs Hurt Ability to Compete With Rivals
-------------------------------------------------------
Mexican steel maker AHMSA's energy costs have risen
significantly in the last five years, making it difficult for
the Company to compete with its international rivals, reports
Business News Americas.

According to the Company's director of communications, Franciso
Orduna, AHMSA's energy costs have increased 112% on the average
in the last five years, higher than the increases experienced by
the Company's international competitors.

The increase has taken place despite programs carried out by the
Company to reduce its consumption of outside fuels and to use
fuels such as coal and coal derivatives, which the Company
produces at its own mines, he added.

AHMSA, one of the country's biggest steel producers, has been in
default on US$1.8 billion in debt since April 1999 and has yet
to resume payments after reneging on a 2001 restructuring deal
in order to seek better terms.

CONTACT:  AHMSA
          Prolongacion B. Juarez s/n,
          Monclova , Coahuila 25770
          Mexico
          http://www.AHMSA.com
          Phone: +52 86 33 81 72
          Fax: +52 86 33 65 66
          Contacts:
          Alonso Ancira Elizondo, CEO, Vice Chairman, Pres/CEO
          Jorge Ancira Elizondo, Chief Financial Officer
          Manuel Ancira Elizondo, Chief Operating Officer


TV AZTECA: To Prepay $69M of $129M Notes
----------------------------------------
Azteca Holdings, S.A. de C.V., the controlling shareholder of TV
Azteca, S.A. de C.V., one of the two largest producers of
Spanish-language television programming in the world, announced
Monday that it will prepay on December 22, 2004, US$69 million
of the principal on its US$129 million 12 1/2% senior notes due
June 15, 2005. The 2005 senior secured notes are callable at
par.

Azteca Holdings, the owner of 56.6% of the capital stock of TV
Azteca, will receive approximately US$73 million from an
upcoming US$130 million distribution to shareholders to be made
by TV Azteca as part of an ongoing plan for cash disbursements.
The Company will use the proceeds to reduce the balance of its
indebtedness and to make interest payments on its outstanding
debt.

By means of the US$69 million prepayment, Azteca Holdings
expects to save approximately US$4 million in interest expense
that would otherwise accrue on the senior secured notes to be
redeemed at final maturity.

The prepayment adds to prior debt amortizations made by Azteca
Holdings since July 2003 of US$44 million, which together with
the newly announced prepayment, will reduce the Company's total
debt by an aggregate amount of US$113 million, from US$279
million to US$166 million.

TV Azteca's board of directors has approved cash disbursements
to shareholders for another US$80 million during 2005 under its
ongoing distributions plan. Azteca Holdings expects to use its
corresponding portion of the proceeds to continue decreasing
outstanding debt, further strengthening its capital structure
and reducing interest expense.

Company Profile

Azteca Holdings, S.A. de C.V. is a holding Company whose
principal asset is 56.6% of the capital stock of TV Azteca, S.A.
de C.V.

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

CONTACT: TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.
         Periferico Sur
         No. 4121
         Col., Fuentes del Pedregal
         14141 D.F.
         Mexico
         Phone: 52-5-420-1313


VITRO: IFC in Talks With Subsidiary for $200M Loan
--------------------------------------------------
The International Finance Corporation, the private financing arm
of the World Bank Group, on Friday affirmed that it is still in
active discussions with Vitro Envases de Norteamerica (VENA), a
subsidiary of Vitro, Mexico's leading glass manufacturer,
regarding financing.

"We have been working closely with Vitro and VENA and
undertaking our normal due diligence process according to our
regular approval procedures in connection with a proposed $200
million syndicated loan for VENA," a spokesman for the IFC said.

"In parallel, we are proceeding with the syndication
implementation process, subject to agreement on terms and
conditions with the Company and with a potential joint lead
arranger. Any possible delays in the due diligence, approval,
and syndication process should not be interpreted as an
indication of an adverse decision on IFC's part."

IFC issued the statement in response to recent press speculation
that the loan would not be approved.

CONTACT: Ms. Adriana Gomez
         Washington, D.C.:
         Phone: (202) 458 5204
         Cell: (202) 294 4698
         E-mail: agomez@ifc.org



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

PDVSA: Chavez Appoints New Company President
--------------------------------------------
Venezuelan state-oil Company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has
a new president after former head Ali Rodriguez left the Company
to become the country's foreign minister.

On Saturday, President Hugo Chavez sworn in energy and mines
minister Rafael Ramirez as PDVSA president. Ramirez will now run
the oil Company but will retain his responsibilities as
minister.

Ramirez plans to meet face-to-face with oil industry executives
in the coming days to draft his proposal for a "great leap
forward" for the Company.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez said that as foreign minister he will
continue to pay special attention to the oil industry because of
its importance for Venezuela's foreign policy.



                            ***********


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

Troubled Company Reporter - Latin America is a daily newsletter
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Copyright 2004.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

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