TCRLA_Public/051026.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, October 26, 2005, Vol. 6, Issue 212

                            Headlines


A R G E N T I N A

ALPARGATAS: $600M Debt Offer Garners 92.21% Creditor Approval
BANCO HIPOTECARIO: S&P Rates $100M Notes 'B-'
CORCEL IMPORT: Reorganization Proceeds to Bankruptcy
COWS & BULLS: Seeks Court Approval to Reorganize
DROGUERIA PATAGONICA: Court Mandates Bankruptcy

EDENOR: Operations Contract Limits Dolphin's Power
FREECOR S.A.: General Report to be Submitted Nov. 8
HACESA S.A.: Concludes Reorganization
PITA S S.R.L.: Court Grants Reorganization Request
TRANSPORTADORA MESOPOTAMICA: Proceeds to Bankruptcy


B R A Z I L

ELETROPAULO METROPOLITANA: Submits Expense Report Clarification
EMBRATEL: Concludes June 30 Financial Statement Audit
LIGHT SERVICOS: Cemig to Present Purchase Offer Nov. 11
UNIBANCO: Completes Creative Liquidity Facility Transaction


C A Y M A N   I S L A N D S

CASSET FUND: Shareholders File Petition for Liquidation
MFS MERIDIAN RESEARCH: Creditors' Debt Claims Due Nov. 17
MFS MERIDIAN STRATEGIC GROWTH: Nov. 17 Claims Deadline Set
MFS MERIDIAN STRATEGIC INCOME: Shareholder Winds Up Firm
MFS MERIDIAN TECHNOLOGY: Liquidators to Review Claims

MFS MERIDIAN US EMERGING: Winding Up Process Begins
MFS MERIDIAN US EQUITY: To Wind Up Operations
MFS MERIDIAN US GOVERNMENT: Liquidators Selected
MFS MERIDIAN US HIGH: Liquidators Selected
MFS MERIDIAN US RESEARCH: Appoints Joint Liquidators

MFS MERIDIAN VALUE: To Wind Up Voluntarily
OKB LIMITED: Creditors' Proof of Claims Due Nov. 17
OVERSEAS EXPORT: To Hold Final General Meeting Nov. 17
PERSEUS FUNDING: Creditors to Prove Debt Claims Nov. 17


C O L O M B I A

* COLOMBIA: IMF Completes First Review Under Stand-By Deal


H O N D U R A S

MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL: Revenues Up 11% in 3Q05


J A M A I C A

AIR JAMAICA: New Head Forecasts Bright Future for Airline


M E X I C O

BALLY TOTAL: Pardus Voices Board Selection Concerns


P A R A G U A Y

ACEPAR: Denies Unfair Domestic Market Practices Claims


P U E R T O   R I C O

FIRST BANCORP: SEC Orders Investigation into Puerto Rican Unit
FIRST BANCORP: Fitch Downgrades, Removes from Watch Negative


V E N E Z U E L A

PDVSA: Denies Short-Term Lyondell Refinery Sale
REFCO INC: Inverbanco Denies Dealings with Bankrupt Firm
REFCO INC: Totalbank Brokerage Forecasts $867K Loss
SIDOR: Anticipates 4M Tons Total Production in 2005


     - - - - - - - - - -


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

ALPARGATAS: $600M Debt Offer Garners 92.21% Creditor Approval
-------------------------------------------------------------
Textile producer Alpargatas SA has obtained 92.21% creditor
approval for its US$600-million debt-restructuring offer,
reports Dow Jones Newswires. Alpargatas seeks to convert US$500
million in foreign-denominated debt into pesos at a rate of
one-to-one.

The local currency is trading at ARS2.9775 to the dollar.

Creditors had four alternatives:

- A 25-year peso par bond with a step-up interest rate.
- A 15-year peso bond with a 50% nominal haircut and step-up
   interest rate.
- A cash payment worth 7% of the original face value plus a  
   15-year, zero-coupon peso bond with an 82% nominal haircut.
- Swap 80% of their original holdings for the Company's
   ordinary shares at ARS12 each.

The remaining US$100 million of debt is already denominated in
pesos. Analysts' estimates put bondholders' recovery rate at 10
cents to 15 cents for every dollar of face-value debt.

Alpargatas filed for the local equivalent of Chapter 11
bankruptcy in December 2001 and presented its debt-
restructuring offer in court in March 2004. The judge
overseeing the Company's debt workout had set a Nov. 18
deadline for it to secure creditor approval.


BANCO HIPOTECARIO: S&P Rates $100M Notes 'B-'
---------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has assigned its 'B-'
foreign currency senior unsecured debt rating to Banco
Hipotecario S.A.'s (BH) $100 million notes due in 2010 to be
issued under the $1.2 billion senior unsecured global MTN
program. At the same time, Standard & Poor's affirmed its
ratings on the
Argentine bank's outstanding debt, and its 'B-/Stable/--'
counterparty credit ratings. The outlook is stable.

The proceeds from the upcoming issuance will be used for
liability management and to increase lending activities to the
private sector.

"The ratings on BH reflect the improvement in the Argentine
financial system's operating environment since the completion
of the sovereign debt restructuring process, as well as BH's
own strengthened credit profile," said Standard & Poor's credit
analyst Federico Rey-Marino. This improvement in the bank's
creditworthiness includes a strong liquidity position, higher
financial flexibility, reduced rate and currency mismatches,
and the reduction in the bank's indebtedness arising from the
finalization of the entity's debt exchange in January 2004. In
addition, it comprises increasing lending activities to the
private sector, healthier asset quality, and the restoration of
the bank's profitability. These strengths are counterbalanced
by the bank's still-high concentration in mortgage lending and
the recently evidenced disagreements on BH's future strategy
between the controlling group and the Argentine government, the
bank's other major shareholder. In addition, BH's credit
quality is still conditioned by its relatively high exposure to
the sovereign's creditworthiness-mostly originated by the
government bonds received as compensation for pesification-as
is the case with the rest of the financial system. The outlook
follows the outlook on the Argentine sovereign ratings.

BH is a public company controlled by several shareholders
including IRSA, a prominent Argentine real estate company, and
several international investment funds. As a result of the
bank's privatization in 1999, the Argentine government remains
a shareholder of the institution.

Primary Credit Analysts:

     Carina Lopez, Buenos Aires
     Tel: (54) 11-4891-2118
               Or
     Federico Rey-Marino, Buenos Aires
     Tel: (54) 114-891-2130;
     E-mail: federico_rey-marino@standardandpoors.com


CORCEL IMPORT: Reorganization Proceeds to Bankruptcy
----------------------------------------------------
The reorganization of Corcel Import S.A. has progressed into
bankruptcy. Argentine news source Infobae relates that a Buenos
Aires court ruled that the Company is "Quiebra Decretada".
The report adds that the court assigned Mr. Augusto Luis
Fiorillo as trustee, who will verify creditors' proofs of claim
until Nov. 25, 2005.

The court also ordered the trustee to prepare individual
reports after the verification process is completed, and have
them ready by Feb. 8, 2006.

The trustee is also required to submit a general report on the
bankruptcy process. The date for the submission of this report
is yet to be disclosed.

CONTACT: Mr. Augusto Luis Fiorillo, Trustee
         Rodriguez Pena 434
         Buenos Aires


COWS & BULLS: Seeks Court Approval to Reorganize
------------------------------------------------
Cows & Bulls S.A., a company operating in Buenos Aires, has
requested for reorganization after failing to pay its
liabilities, reports Infobae.

The reorganization petition, once approved by the court, will
allow the Company to negotiate a settlement with its creditors
in order to avoid a straight liquidation.

CONTACT: Cows & Bulls S.A.
         Alvarado 2357
         Buenos Aires


DROGUERIA PATAGONICA: Court Mandates Bankruptcy
-----------------------------------------------
Drogueria Patagonica S.R.L. enters bankruptcy protection after
a Buenos Aires court ordered the Company's liquidation. 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 will select a trustee to verify
creditors' proofs of claim.

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 dates for the submission of the reports as well as the end
of the verification phase are yet to be determined.


EDENOR: Operations Contract Limits Dolphin's Power
--------------------------------------------------
Despite taking control of power distributor Edenor, the Dolphin
Fund Management faces serious limitations of power within the
electricity concession. El Cronista reports that under its
contract of operations, Dolphin cannot unilaterally change
Edenor's statute, cannot raise capital without the approval of
its partners and cannot renounce any rights obtained through
the concession contract.

With regard to the restructuring of Edenor's $512-million
defaulted debt, Dolphin must receive the backing of investors
before making any formal proposal to creditors.

Moreover, Dolphin cannot sign contracts with third parties for
more than US$25 million per annum nor for more than US$50
million in total without consulting partners. It cannot sell
off or rent out any assets worth more than US$25 million and
cannot acquire any assets for that sum and above without the
approval of all those involved.

Dolphin recently assumed control of Edenor after it bought a
65% stake from French state power company EdF for US$100
million. The French utility is retaining a 25% stake and
lending technical assistance for five years.

Edenor serves 2.4 million clients in the northern part of
Buenos Aires. The Company's new investments will allow the
addition of 250,000 new residential and small-business clients,
as well as 6,800 more industrial users. These new customers
represent a 10.6% expansion in the residential client base and
a 19% increase in large-scale users.

CONTACT:  EDENOR S.A.
          Azopardo Building
          Azopardo 1025 (1107) Capital Federal
          Phone: (54-11) 4346-5000
          Fax: (54-11) 4346-5300
          E-mail: to ofitel@edenor.com.ar
          Web Site: http://www.edenor.com.ar


FREECOR S.A.: General Report to be Submitted Nov. 8
---------------------------------------------------
The general report on the Freecor S.A. reorganization will be
submitted on Nov. 8, 2005, following the end of the
verification of creditors' claims.

Infobae relates that the general report will contain the
Company's audited accounting and business records as well as
the summary of important events pertaining to the
reorganization.

An Informative Assembly, the final stage of a reorganization
where the settlement proposal is presented to the Company's
creditors for approval, is scheduled on March 20, 2006.



HACESA S.A.: Concludes Reorganization
-------------------------------------
The reorganization process of Buenos Aires-based Hacesa S.A.
has ended. Data revealed by Infobae` on its Web site indicated
that the proceeding was concluded after Buenos Aires' civil and
commercial court homologated the debt agreement signed between
the Company and its creditors.


PITA S S.R.L.: Court Grants Reorganization Request
--------------------------------------------------
Pita s S.R.L. successfully petitioned for reorganization after
a Buenos Aires court issued a resolution opening the Company's
insolvency proceedings.

Under insolvency protection, the Company will continue to
manage its assets subject to certain conditions imposed by
Argentine law and the oversight of a court-appointed trustee.

Infobae relates that Mr. Roberto A. Mazzarella will serve as
trustee during the course of the reorganization. The trustee
will be accepting creditors' proofs of claim for verification
until Nov. 15, 2005.

After verifications, the trustee will prepare the individual
reports and submit it in court on Dec. 28, 2005. He will also
present a general report for court review on March 10, 2006.

The Company will endorse the settlement proposal, drafted from
the submitted claims, for approval by the creditors during the
informative assembly scheduled on Aug. 21, 2006.

CONTACT: Mr. Roberto A. Mazzarella, Trustee
         Laprida 1411
         Buenos Aires


TRANSPORTADORA MESOPOTAMICA: Proceeds to Bankruptcy
---------------------------------------------------
Santa Fe's civil and commercial court has converted the
reorganization of Transportadora Mesopotamica S.R.L. into
bankruptcy, Infobae reports.

The report adds that the court assigned a trustee to verify
creditors' proofs of claim until Dec. 13, 2005.

The court also ordered the trustee to prepare individual
reports after the verification process is completed. A general
report on the bankruptcy will also be submitted. The dates for
the submission of the reports are yet to be disclosed.

CONTACT: Transportadora Mesopotamica S.R.L.
         General Lopez 2520
         Ciudad de Santa Fe (Santa Fe)



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

ELETROPAULO METROPOLITANA: Submits Expense Report Clarification
---------------------------------------------------------------
Eletropaulo Metropolitana Eletricidade de Sao Paulo S.A.
("Company"), under CVM Instruction No 358 of January 3, 2002,
hereby announces to the market that:

On the third quarter of 2005, the Company will account for
extraordinary expenses amounting to R$257,134 thousand in its
income statement, as follows:

1. Non-recurring provision relating to the Payment Agreement
("Agreement") entered into between the Company and the City
Government of Sao Paulo ("City Government")

On September 2, 2005, the Company published an Announcement to
the Market informing that:

a. The City Government had failed to pay the amount falling due
on August 31, 2005, such amount relating to the first of the
twelve monthly installments as provided for in the Agreement
signed with the Company on September 9, 2004. The original
amount due by the City Government is R$542,572 thousand, of
which R$10,000 thousand were paid in two installments on June
22 and July 5, 2004.

b. Given that the default occurred on August 31, 2005, the
Company filed a lawsuit for judicial collection on September 2,
2005.

Considering that there is no possibility to resume bilateral
negotiations to resolve on the debt, and taking into account
the expectation relating to the period to conclude the ju
dicial measures already taken, the Company decided to make full
provision for the remaining amounts relating to its credits
with the City Government.

2. Increase of the Pis/Cofins tax on the Electric Power Supply
Contract ("Contract") with AES Tiete

On September 30, 2005, the Company paid the total amount of
R$43,692 thousand to AES Tiete, relating to the increase from
3,65% to 9,25% of the PIS/Cofins tax levied on the Contract,
such amount relating to the period from July 4, 2004 to June
30, 2005, duly adjusted as provided for in the Contract.

In the tariff readjustment of July 4, 2005, ANEEL did not
approve that the increase in the above mentioned tax burden be
passed on to tariffs charged by the Company.

Obeying to what the Contract determines, since July 2005 the
Company has included the increase of the Pis/Cofins tax on its
monthly payments.

On August 25, 2005, the Company filed a lawsuit with the
purpose of being allowed to pass on such increase. ANEEL was
served with process on September 14, 2005 and will have 60 days
as from such date to express its opinion on the case. After
such period the judge will render his decision.

According to the development of the lawsuit, Eletropaulo will
ponder applicable additional measures.

The Company attests that, as liquidity is concerned, it has the
capacity to meet its financial obligations and will divulge any
further and relevant information.

The Company reiterates its commitment to be transparent to its
investors and to the market at large.

CONTACT: Eletropaulo Metropolitana Eletricidade de Sao Paulo
S/A
         Investor Relations Manager
         Ms. Clarice Silva Assis
         E-mail: clarice.assis@aes.com
         Phone:(55 11) 2195-2229
         Fax:(55 11) 2195-2503


EMBRATEL: Concludes June 30 Financial Statement Audit
-----------------------------------------------------
Embratel Participacoes S.A. ("Embrapar"), concluded the
auditing of the June 30, 2005 Financial Statements of Embrapar
and its subsidiaries which served as the basis for the
transaction announced in the Relevant Facts published on May
24, 2005 and October 3, 2005.

The auditing process of the June 30, 2005 Financial Statements,
conducted until October 21, resulted in the need to adjust some
accounts to include events which occurred subsequent to the
filing of the quarterly financial information - Informacoes
Trimestrais (ITR) of June 30, 2005. The Company reports that
the adjustments made do not affect revenues, net income and
shareholders' equity.

To see accounts: http://bankrupt.com/misc/EMBRATEL.htm

CONTACT: Embratel Participacoes S.A.
         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


LIGHT SERVICOS: Cemig to Present Purchase Offer Nov. 11
-------------------------------------------------------
Electric power utility Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais SA
(Cemig) aims to come up with a bid for Rio de Janeiro-based
electricity distributor Light Servicos de Eletricidade SA
before Nov. 11. Cemig President Djalma Bastos de Morais said
Monday his company is looking for partners to bid jointly for
Light.

"We are looking for partners. We do not want to be majority
stake holders. In our partnerships, we're always minority
holders," Mr. Bastos de Morais said.

In June, Electricite de France (EDF), which owns 94.8% of
Light, said it was interested in bringing new investors into
Light as part of the restructuring of Light's debt of BRL1.77
billion (US$782 million).

Bastos de Morais said Cemig will present its proposal to the
U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs, which is managing the sale
of stakes in Light.

Light, which serves 3.4 million clients in Brazil's second-
biggest city of Rio, has big debts and has lost revenue due to
power theft in Rio's slums and low-income neighborhoods. The
Company loses 17% of its energy from power theft and its
revenue losses total about BRL500 million annually.

CONTACT:  LIGHT SERVICOS DE ELETRICIDADE S.A.
          Avenida Marechal Floriano, 168
          20080-002 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
          Phone: +55-21-2211-2794
          Fax:   +55-21-2211-2993
          Home Page: http://www.lightrio.com.br
          Contact:
          Bo Gosta Kallstrand, Chairman
          Michel Gaillard, President and CEO
          Joel Nicolas, Executive Director, Operation
          Paulo Roberto Ribeiro Pinto, Executive Director,
                                 Investor Relations and CFO


UNIBANCO: Completes Creative Liquidity Facility Transaction
-----------------------------------------------------------
Unibanco completed a US$200 million Liquidity Facility
transaction. It is an innovative hybrid instrument for the
global financial markets. For the next two years, Unibanco will
be able to access resources in the amount of up to US$200
million, with a seven-year term repayment period.

The resources drawn will be backed by notes issued under the
Receivables Securitization Program of Unibanco and UBB
Diversified Payment Rights Finance Company ("Securitization
Program"). The Securitization Program is formed by the future
flow of receivables denominated in US dollars. It comprises,
mainly, foreign trade and payment order transactions. Since its
beginning, in 2002, the Securitization Program posted a solid
growth of more than 70% in financial volume.

Daniel Gleizer, Executive Director of Unibanco, responsible for
the Treasury commented: "This was a strategic transaction for
Unibanco. It combines the benefits of a stand-by bank facility
with the advantages of long-term funding. This facility will
allow efficient management of the future amortization flow of
our Securitization Program."

Financial Guaranty Insurance Company guaranteed the transaction
and SMBC Securities, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, acted as arranger.

CONTACT: Unibanco - Uniao de Bancos Brasileiros S.A.
         Investor Relations Area
         Av. Eusebio Matoso, 891 - 15th floor - Sao Paulo
         SP 05423-901 - Brazil
         Phone: (55 11) 3097-1980
         Fax: (55 11) 3813-6182
         E-mail: investor.relations@unibanco.com

         URL: www.ir.unibanco.com



===========================
C A Y M A N   I S L A N D S
===========================

CASSET FUND: Shareholders File Petition for Liquidation
-------------------------------------------------------
             IN THE GRAND COURT OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS
                      CAUSE NO: 440 OF 2005

                              And

         IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPANIES LAW (2004 REVISION)

                              And

                 IN THE MATTER OF Casset Fund, Ltd.

A Petition to wind up Casset Fund, Ltd., whose registered
office is situated at Ugland House, P.O. Box 309 GT, South
Church Street, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands ("the
Company"), was presented to the Court on September 22, 2005 by
certain registered shareholders.

The said Petition will be heard before the Grand Court at the
Law Courts, George Town, Grand Cayman at 10:00 a.m. on November
1, 2005, or as soon thereafter as the Petition can be heard.
Any person who intends to appear on the hearing of the said
Petition (whether to support or oppose it) must serve notice of
intention to do so on the Attorneys-at-Law for the Petitioners
whose address is set out below no later than 4:00 p.m. on
October 31, 2004.

CONTACT: Walkers, Attorneys at Law for the Petitioner
         Robert Gardner
         P O Box 265GT, George Town
         Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
         Telephone: 345 914 6332
         Facsimile: 345 814 8333


MFS MERIDIAN RESEARCH: Creditors' Debt Claims Due Nov. 17
---------------------------------------------------------
              MFS Meridian Research International Fund
                     (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                   The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian Research International Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of MFS Meridian Research International Fund are to
prove their debts or claims on or before November 17, 2005 and
to establish any title they may have under the Companies Law
(2004 Revision), or to be excluded from the benefit of any
distribution made before the debts are proved or from objecting
to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN STRATEGIC GROWTH: Nov. 17 Claims Deadline Set
----------------------------------------------------------
                MFS Meridian Strategic Growth Fund
                    (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                 The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian Strategic Growth Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of MFS Meridian Strategic Growth Fund are to prove
their debts or claims on or before November 17, 2005 and to
establish any title they may have under the Companies Law (2004
Revision), or to be excluded from the benefit of any
distribution made before the debts are proved or from objecting
to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN STRATEGIC INCOME: Shareholder Winds Up Firm
--------------------------------------------------------
                 MFS Meridian Strategic Income Fund
                     (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                  The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian Strategic Income Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of MFS Meridian Strategic Income Fund are to prove
their debts or claims on or before November 17, 2005 and to
establish any title they may have under the Companies Law (2004
Revision), or to be excluded from the benefit of any
distribution made before the debts are proved or from objecting
to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN TECHNOLOGY: Liquidators to Review Claims
-----------------------------------------------------
                  MFS Meridian Technology Fund
                   (In Voluntary Liquidation)
               The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian Technology Fund at an extraordinary
general meeting of the shareholders held on September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of the Company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499
         


MFS MERIDIAN US EMERGING: Winding Up Process Begins
---------------------------------------------------
          MFS Meridian U.S. Emerging Growth Fund
               (In Voluntary Liquidation)
           The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of the above-named company at an extraordinary
general meeting of the shareholders held on September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of this company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN US EQUITY: To Wind Up Operations
---------------------------------------------
                   MFS Meridian U.S. Equity Fund
                    (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                 The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian U.S. Equity Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of the Company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN US GOVERNMENT: Liquidators Selected
------------------------------------------------
             MFS Meridian U.S. Government Bond Fund
                  (In Voluntary Liquidation)
               The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian U.S. Government Bond Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of this company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN US HIGH: Liquidators Selected
------------------------------------------
                 MFS Meridian U.S. High Yield Fund
                     (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                 The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian U.S. High Yield Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of the Company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499
         

MFS MERIDIAN US RESEARCH: Appoints Joint Liquidators
----------------------------------------------------
                  MFS Meridian U.S. Research Fund
                     (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                  The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian U.S. Research Fund at an
extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders held on
September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of this company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


MFS MERIDIAN VALUE: To Wind Up Voluntarily
------------------------------------------
                      MFS Meridian Value Fund
                    (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                 The Companies Law (2004 Revision)

The following special resolution was passed by the sole
shareholder of MFS Meridian Value Fund at an extraordinary
general meeting of the shareholders held on September 28, 2005:

"That the company be voluntarily wound up and that Linburgh
Martin and John Sutlic, of P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman, be
and are hereby appointed Joint Liquidators, to act jointly and
severally, for the purposes of such winding up."

Creditors of this company are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005 and to establish any title they may
have under the Companies Law (2004 Revision), or to be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Linburgh Martin, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Thiry Gordon
         Close Brothers (Cayman) Limited
         Fourth Floor, Harbour Place
         P.O. Box 1034GT, Grand Cayman
         Telephone: (345) 949 8455
         Facsimile: (345) 949 8499


OKB LIMITED: Creditors' Proof of Claims Due Nov. 17
---------------------------------------------------
                            OKB Limited
                     (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                  The Companies Law (2004 Revision)
                            Section 135

TAKE NOTICE that the following special resolution was passed by
the shareholder(s) of OKB Limited at an extraordinary general
meeting of the shareholder(s) held on September 27, 2005:

THAT the Company be placed into voluntary liquidation
forthwith.

THAT Martin Couch and Johann Le Roux be appointed, jointly and
severally, as liquidators of the Company.

Creditors of OKB Limited are to prove their debts or claims on
or before November 17, 2005, and to send full particulars of
their debts or claims to the joint liquidators of the said
company. In default thereof, they will be excluded from the
benefit of any distribution made before the debts are proved or
from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Messrs. Martin Couch and Johann Leroux
         Joint Voluntary Liquidators
         Maples Finance Limited
         P.O. Box 1093GT
         Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands


OVERSEAS EXPORT: To Hold Final General Meeting Nov. 17
------------------------------------------------------
                       Overseas Export Ltd.
                    (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                 The Companies Law (2004 Revision)
                            Section 145

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to Section 145 of the Companies
Law that the final general meeting of Overseas Export Ltd. will
be held at the offices of Maples Finance Limited, Queensgate
House, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, on November
17, 2005 for the purpose of presenting to the members an
account of the winding up of the Company and giving any
explanation thereof.

CONTACT: Ms. Suzan Merren and Mr. Johann Le Roux
         Joint Voluntary Liquidators
         Maples Finance Limited
         P.O. Box 1093GT
         Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands


PERSEUS FUNDING: Creditors to Prove Debt Claims Nov. 17
-------------------------------------------------------
                        Perseus Funding Ltd.
                     (In Voluntary Liquidation)
                  The Companies Law (2004 Revision)
                            Section 135

TAKE NOTICE that the following special resolution was passed by
the shareholder(s) of Perseus Funding Ltd. at an extraordinary
general meeting of the shareholder(s) held on October 5, 2005:

THAT the Company be placed into voluntary liquidation
forthwith.

THAT Mora Goddard and Mike Hughes be appointed, jointly and
severally, as liquidators of the Company.

Creditors of Perseus Funding Ltd. are to prove their debts or
claims on or before November 17, 2005, and to send full
particulars of their debts or claims to the joint liquidators
of the said company. In default thereof, they will be excluded
from the benefit of any distribution made before the debts are
proved or from objecting to the distribution.

CONTACT: Mr. Mike Hughes, Joint Voluntary Liquidator
         Maples Finance Limited
         P.O. Box 1093GT
         Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands



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

* COLOMBIA: IMF Completes First Review Under Stand-By Deal
----------------------------------------------------------
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
completed Monday the first review of Colombia's performance
under an 18-month SDR 405 million (about US$583.8 million)
Stand-By Arrangement approved on April 29, 2005. The Board has
also approved a modification of performance criteria in order
to lower the combined public sector deficit target, and granted
a waiver for the nonobservance of the end June 2005 structural
performance criterion on congressional approval of changes to
the budget code on the basis of several corrective measures,
including steps already adopted. The Board also granted waivers
of applicability for the end-September 2005 quantitative
performance criteria on the combined public sector deficit and
on the net disbursement of short-term external debt of the
public sector.

Completion of this review makes an amount equivalent to SDR
42.3 million (about US$61.0 million) immediately available to
Colombia, in addition to SDR 193.5 million (about US$278.9
million) made available initially upon the program's approval.
However, the authorities continue to treat the arrangement as
precautionary, and do not intend to draw on the credit
available.

Following the Executive Board's discussion of Colombia, Ms.
Anne O. Krueger, First Deputy Managing Director and Acting
Chair, made the following statement:

"The authorities' strong economic policies are allowing the
economy to benefit from the favorable global economic
environment. In 2005, real GDP is expected to rise by 4
percent, reducing unemployment further, while inflation will
remain at its lowest level in decades. The external sector has
strengthened, benefiting from high world commodity prices,
robust growth in nontraditional exports, and strong inflows of
foreign direct investment. The government has lowered the 2005
target for the combined public sector deficit to below the
original target, from 2.5 to 1.6 percent of GDP. This
improvement in the fiscal position results from gains in tax
administration, as well as continued control over spending and
the effect of higher oil prices. Monetary policy continues to
aim at achieving the inflation target, in the context of a
managed float exchange rate policy.

"The economic outlook for 2006 is favorable, with good
prospects for sustained growth and declining inflation. Fiscal
policy is set to remain prudent, with a combined public sector
deficit of no more than 2 percent of GDP. Moreover, the
authorities also intend to save most of any oil price windfall
accruing to the public sector, which will help keep the public
debt on a declining path.

"Structural reforms are continuing to advance. The pension
reform and the Securities Market Law were approved. The
authorities have already adopted several key elements of the
revised budget code that had been before Congress, and intend
to implement as many of the remaining elements as possible
through executive action. Financial supervision will continue
to strengthen. The government intends to build political
support for additional key medium-term reforms, such as
strengthening tax policy, improving the system of revenue
sharing, and reducing the extent of revenue earmarking.

"These policies will help lay the foundation for continued
growth over the medium term and for a smooth exit by Colombia
from financial support from the Fund," Ms. Krueger said.

CONTACT: International Monetary Fund - IMF
         External Relations Department
         Public Affairs
         Phone: 202-623-7300
         Fax: 202-623-6278
                      Or
         Media Relations
         Phone: 202-623-7100
         Fax: 202-623-6772



===============
H O N D U R A S
===============

MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL: Revenues Up 11% in 3Q05
-----------------------------------------------
Millicom International Cellular S.A. (Nasdaq:MICC)
(Stockholmsborsen and Luxembourg Stock Exchange:MIC), the
global telecommunications company, released Monday results for
the quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2005.

Marc Beuls, Millicom's President and Chief Executive Officer
stated:

"Millicom's underlying business grew more strongly in the third
quarter than in the second quarter with an 8% increase in pro
forma revenues. The pro forma numbers exclude Vietnam, where
our BCC ended in May and include Millicom's joint venture in
Honduras with a percentage ownership of 66.67% to reflect the
increase in ownership from 50% in May 2005. Pro forma EBITDA
was up by 6% from the second quarter of 2005. The main driver
in revenue growth was a 13% increase in revenues in Central
America, 10% in South America and the 5% growth in revenues in
Africa, which continue to be our star performers."

"The Latin American market has seen a strong acceleration in
subscriber growth since the launch of GSM and the Tigo brand in
2004, and this has continued to gather momentum as Millicom
continues to take market share in Central America. In Africa,
Ghana and Senegal were particularly strong markets and Tanzania
is beginning to improve its performance. Millicom has started
operating in two new markets, launching operations in Chad in
October and purchasing the Oasis business in Congo. Together
these two countries add some 70 million new people under
license, replacing the potential new subscribers lost with the
end of our BCC in Vietnam."

"Millicom is currently negotiating the sale of its share in
Pakcom, its second operation in Pakistan. It is interesting to
note that Millicom's growth would have been even higher without
Pakcom. Millicom has decided to concentrate its investment in
Pakistan into its Paktel business and in total, since 2002,
Millicom has committed $250 million of investment, excluding
the license fee. Paktel is growing strongly and by the end of
the quarter the business had 945,000 subscribers."

To see financial summary:
http://bankrupt.com/misc/MILLICOM_INTERNATIONAL.htm

CONTACT:   Millicom International Cellular S.A., Luxembourg
           Marc Beuls
           President and Chief Executive Officer
           Telephone: 352 27 759 327
                       or
           Shared Value, Ltd. London
           Investor Relations
           Andrew Best
           Telephone: 44 20 7321 5022

           URL: www.millicom.com



=============
J A M A I C A
=============

AIR JAMAICA: New Head Forecasts Bright Future for Airline
---------------------------------------------------------
Michael Conway, the new President and Chief Executive Officer
(CEO) of Air Jamaica Limited, expects the national carrier to
regain its original image, the Caribbean Net News reports.

"The airline can get back to where I know it was with reliable,
on-time service. I'm confident that this and the support from
Jamaicans can make the airline compete with anybody," Conway
said.

"I'll be placing a lot of emphasis on why the airline is late
and rest assured the airline must be reliable and on-time and
we will figure out how to do that hopefully in short fashion,"
Conway added.

He was speaking last week at a press briefing held at the
Ministry of Finance and Planning, where the Minister, Dr. Omar
Davies announced the new Board and Chief Executive Officer of
Air Jamaica Limited. The announcement comes 10 months after
Government reassumed control of the national airline in
December 2004.

Mr. Conway's appointment becomes effective on November 1.

CONTACT: AIR JAMAICA
         Corporate Communications
         Tel: 876-922-3460 ext 4060-5
         URL: www.airjamaica.com



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

BALLY TOTAL: Pardus Voices Board Selection Concerns
---------------------------------------------------
Pardus Capital Management L.P., a Delaware limited partnership
("PCM") delivered October 24, 2005 a letter to the Board of
Directors (the "Board") of Bally Total Fitness Holding
Corporation, a Delaware corporation (the "Company"), responding
to a letter received from the Company on October 18, 2005.

PCM wrote:

We received your letter of October 18, 2005 concerning the
process for nominating directors to the Bally's board and the
adoption of an interim poison pill. Unlike many of your
stakeholders, we do not have a lengthy history with the
company, management or the current board. While we have heard
the overwhelming negative investor sentiment towards the
company, we have tried to reserve judgment and, accordingly,
have approached management openly with respect to our concerns
over the present state of the company and where Bally's needs
to go if it is to turn-around and thrive. To date, we are
disappointed with the company's response.

You have stated that you desire to work cooperatively with us.
We would welcome a direct dialog with the board and have
repeatedly asked management to arrange a meeting or provide us
with appropriate contact information. As a matter of the most
fundamental philosophy, we believe management serves at the
pleasure of the board of directors and, in turn, the board
serves at the pleasure of the shareholders and for their
benefit, all with the ultimate goal of enhancing shareholder
value. If the current board shares this basic philosophy, we
will have a common ground from which to work to rebuild
Bally's. If the current board has a different view, it is
unlikely we will be able to collaborate going forward.

Management is well aware that of our initial three candidates,
one withdrew due to a strategic event involving his own company
that required more of his time than anticipated and two have
made themselves available to be interviewed by the company's
CEO. There has been no follow-up with respect to these two
candidates, whether from management, the nominating committee
or Russell Reynolds. I found out today that one of our
candidates gave the company's CEO THREE separate dates for an
in-person meeting but the CEO could not find one to his liking.
Statements from the company implying anything else are simply
misleading.

We have additional candidates who represent a full complement
of independent, highly qualified nominees for the board and who
have broad, relevant turnaround and restructuring experience.
We will gladly share our candidates with the board if we can be
assured they will receive fair, honest and timely
consideration. We also would consider any other candidates who
are genuinely independent and have the relevant skill sets and
qualifications. It is with reluctance that we have begun to
spend our money and time pursuing a proxy contest; it would be
an utter waste of shareholder money and management time for
Bally's to object to qualified candidates, especially when
broad, existing shareholder sentiment against this management
team makes the outcome of an election contest a foregone
conclusion.

We see the adoption of the poison pill as a further effort to
entrench the management team and only serve to spread the
appearance of a "bunker" mentality, which can only detract from
the company's recovery. Worse, news items and rumors in the
marketplace concerning the company's talks to sell itself,
including today's report about Wellspring Capital Management,
in advance of the release of audited and restated financial
statements suggest management is interested primarily in
preserving its position and reserving upside in Bally's to a
select few rather than ALL of the shareholders at large.

I am completely uninterested in a petty, tit-for-tat exchange
of letters or an argument over who left the last phone message
unanswered. We have, from the beginning and repeatedly,
expressed a desire to speak principal-to-principal with the
board concerning these matters and are prepared to do so now.
We have again last week reached out to management to further
that process and been in contact with Russell Reynolds.

We firmly believe, however, that little progress will be made
absent direct shareholder-to-board interaction. If this present
board is serious about revitalizing Bally's and truly
representing the shareholders' interests, we invite you to
contact us to further a consensual process. But make no
mistake: we are your largest shareholder, we are not going away
and we will see Bally's turned around and restored to its
potential with or without management's or the current board's
cooperation.

Pardus European Special Opportunities Master Fund L.P., a
limited partnership formed under the laws of the Cayman Islands
(the "Fund"), is the holder of 5,000,000 shares of the common
stock, par value $0.01 per share (the "Shares"), of the
Company, including the 1000 shares of common stock owned of
record. PCM serves as the investment manager of the Fund and
possesses sole power to vote and direct the disposition of all
Shares held by the Fund. Pardus Capital Management LLC, a
Delaware limited liability company ("PCM LLC"), is the general
partner of PCM and Mr. Karim Samii is the sole member of PCM
LLC. The persons filing this Schedule 14A are PCM, the Fund,
PCM LLC and Mr. Samii (collectively, the "Reporting Persons").
Based on information provided by the Company, as of September
30, 2005 there were 36,083,427 shares of the Company's common
stock issued and outstanding. Thus, as of October 24, 2005, PCM
may be deemed to beneficially own 5,000,000 Shares, or 13.9% of
the shares of Company common stock deemed issued and
outstanding as of that date.

On the same date, PCM, filed Amendment Number 8 to its Schedule
13D with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the
"Amendment"). The Amendment amends PCM's previously filed Item
4 disclosure by adding the following:

"PCM has attached as Exhibit 2 to this Schedule 13D a letter,
dated October 24, 2005, from PCM to the Board of Directors of
the Company responding to a letter received from the Company on
October 18, 2005.

Except as otherwise described in this Item 4 of this Schedule
13D, as amended, the acquisition of the Shares by the Fund is
for investment purposes on behalf of the Fund."

CONTACT: Bally Total Fitness Holding Corporation
         Investors:
         Janine Warell
         Phone: 773-864-6897

         Media
         Matt Messinger
         Phone: 773-864-6850
      
         URL: www.ballyfitness.com
  
                  or

         MWW Group
         Public Relations
         Carreen Winters
         Phone: 201-507-9500



===============
P A R A G U A Y
===============

ACEPAR: Denies Unfair Domestic Market Practices Claims
------------------------------------------------------
Steelmaker Acepar refuted construction chamber Capaco's
allegations that it has acted "arbitrarily and unjustly" in the
domestic market by increasing steel prices whenever it
considers it convenient, reports Business News Americas.

Acepar director Juan Ramon Martinez said his company does not
understand where Capaco director Jorge Moreno got his
information given that "Acepar has not changed its prices since
December."

"There is no valid reason to be criticizing us this way.
Domestic market prices are fixed in guarantees [the local
currency] and have remained the same since that date," he said,
referring to December.

Mr. Moreno also said "when international conditions are
favorable, [Acepar] argues that the domestic market is a free
market, allowing it to act independently, which leaves us
without a certain type of rebar."

The chamber's director also warned against Acepar's policy of
raising the minimum purchase value by tonne for company
distributors, saying the move could push prices above market
standards.



=====================
P U E R T O   R I C O
=====================

FIRST BANCORP: SEC Orders Investigation into Puerto Rican Unit
--------------------------------------------------------------
First BanCorp (NYSE: FBP) announced that the Securities and
Exchange Commission has issued a formal order of investigation
in its investigation into First BanCorp.  The investigation,
which stems out of an informal inquiry announced by the Company
in late August 2005, appears to relate to, among other things,
transactions in which First Bank acquired a substantial number
of mortgage loans from other Puerto Rican financial
institutions. The Company is cooperating with the SEC's
investigation.

The Audit Committee of First BanCorp's Board of Directors has
been looking into the mortgage transactions and the proper
accounting treatment of them since shortly before the Company
learned of the SEC's initial inquiry into First BanCorp.  The
Audit Committee is also reviewing other possible accounting and
financial controls issues, and it is possible that the
Committee may also determine to review other issues as well.  
The Committee has retained independent counsel and forensic
accounting advisers to assist in this review.  The Committee
and its counsel are cooperating with, and providing information
to, the SEC staff.

One issue under review by the Audit Committee is whether the
mortgage transactions at issue were properly classified for
accounting purposes as purchases of the mortgage loans by First
Bank or whether they should have been treated as loans by First
Bank to the other financial institutions, secured by the
mortgages. Although the Company's accounting analysis is not
complete, First Bank has concluded that most of its
transactions with one financial institution, R&G Mortgage Corp,
did not qualify as true sales as a legal matter.  Accordingly,
these transactions may need to be accounted for as a secured
loan to that financial institution. As a result, First BanCorp
may be required to restate its previously issued financial
statements for the period from 2000 through the first quarter
of 2005.

Any reclassification of the transactions as secured loans
rather than as purchases of mortgages would affect the notes to
the Company's financial statements as well as the Company's
presentation of its cash flow from investing activities.  The
Company is reviewing the adequacy of its allowance for loan
losses relating to the potential reclassified secured loans as
well as the regulatory capital implications of the
reclassifications. Any need to change the allowance for loan
losses would impact previously reported net income and loans
net of allowance for loan losses.

The analysis of the mortgage transactions with other financial
institutions, including Doral Financial Corporation, is not
complete.  To the extent that the Company concludes that any
transactions are considered to be true sales, it also will need
to determine whether such transactions include various terms
that should have been accounted for as derivatives.  Any need
to restate historical financial statements to reflect such
derivatives could substantially decrease or increase First
BanCorp's net income for particular periods between 2000 and
the first quarter of 2005.  The Audit Committee's continuing
review of this matter as well as other matters may result in
the need for the Company to restate its financial statements.


FIRST BANCORP: Fitch Downgrades, Removes from Watch Negative
------------------------------------------------------------
Fitch has lowered the ratings of First BanCorp (FBP) and its
subsidiary, FirstBank Puerto Rico, to 'BB' from 'BBB-' (long-
term) and to 'B' from 'F3' (short-term). In addition, the
Individual Rating has been downgraded to 'C/D' from 'C'. The
ratings have all been removed from Rating Watch Negative. The
Rating Outlook is Negative. (See complete list of affected
ratings provided at the end of this release.)

This rating action follows the announcement that the Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a formal order of
investigation into FBP. This follows the informal inquiry by
the SEC announced in August 2005. FBP has disclosed that its
Audit Committee concluded that mortgages reported as being
purchased from R&G Mortgage were improperly classified as
mortgage loans rather than treated as commercial loans. The
reclassification stems from the underlying transactions failing
to meet all the tests of a true sale for financial reporting
purposes. The review, which remains ongoing, will also be
covering similar contracts made with other financial
institutions including Doral Financial Corporation. Fitch
believes the mortgage purchase activity conducted by FBP is the
focal point of the SEC investigation, and that Fitch believes
it is likely that the review of such transactions will
necessitate that FBP restate its previously released financial
statements. Management has indicated such restatements, if
required, could reach back to 2000. The timing and magnitude of
such restatements are uncertain at this time.

Fitch's rating action also recognizes that the financial
restatement process likely could result in pressure on capital
ratios as well as the need for increased loan loss reserves and
changes in previously reported levels of net income. The
potential disruption in funding is an equally important factor
in Fitch's rating action. Mortgage loans serve as a key piece
of collateral in FBP's funding arrangements. If the mortgage
loans in question are deemed to have not been purchased by FBP,
its available collateral pool for funding could be reduced.
FBP's funding profile also shows a heavy reliance on brokered
deposits, a source of funds that the regulators may restrict
FBP's use of until greater certainty on the financial
restatement process is achieved.

Further pressuring capitalization and increasing the risk
related to uncertain funding plans, FBP has undergone
significant growth in its commercial loan portfolio during the
first half of 2005, exclusive of the above-mentioned
reclassification. Growth in the first half of 2005 reduced the
total risk-based capital ratio by nearly 200 basis points based
on FBP's regulatory report filing. Management will need to
revisit growth plans and likely seek ways to restrain asset
growth until greater certainty can be achieved regarding
available sources of funds. Fitch's expectation considers the
likelihood that capital ratios would not fall below the
technical regulatory parameters of a well-capitalized
institution. Looking forward, FBP's return to normal growth
will likely necessitate increased levels of overall capital,
with attention paid to ensure there is appropriate balance
between common equity and more expensive forms of preferred and
hybrid instruments.

Resolution of the Negative Outlook will focus on the near-term
challenges related to management's ability to effectively
balance growth with potential near-term funding issues. A
return to a Stable Rating Outlook will not likely precede the
conclusion of the accounting, financial, and SEC investigation,
release of audited financial statements, and a period of
steady-state performance at FBP. The Negative Outlook also
considers the possibility that the ongoing investigation may
produce additional findings, and operational and regulatory
challenges.

The following ratings are downgraded:

First BanCorp

-- Long-term issuer to 'BB' from 'BBB-';
-- Short-term to 'B' from 'F3';
-- Individual to 'C/D' from 'C'.

FirstBank Puerto Rico

-- Long-term issuer to 'BB' from 'BBB-';
-- Subordinated debt to 'BB-' from 'BB+';
-- Long-term deposit obligations to 'BB+' from 'BBB';
-- Short-term issuer to 'B' from F3';
-- Individual to 'C/D' from 'C'.

Fitch also rates First BanCorp and FirstBank Puerto Rico as
follows:

-- Support '5'.

CONTACT: Fitch Ratings
         Ileana Cervantes, 312-368-5472 (Chicago)
         Peter Shimkus, 312-368-2063 (Chicago)
         Kenneth Reed, 212-908-0540 (Media Relations, New York)



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

PDVSA: Denies Short-Term Lyondell Refinery Sale
-----------------------------------------------
State-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) is
not putting its Lyondell refinery in Houston up for sale in the
short-term, reports Dow Jones Newswires. The announcement,
which was made by Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez on
Thursday, contradicts earlier reports that PDVSA is aiming for
an immediate sale of the refinery to recoup its US$5 billion
investment in the plant.

The Houston refinery is jointly owned by Citgo, a subsidiary of
PDVSA, and Lyondell Chemical Co.

Ramirez said that PDVSA will begin reviewing the possible sale
of Citgo assets when oil prices soften.

"As soon as we see the market changing, we will do a study on
which of these businesses we will keep," Ramirez said.

Ramirez, who is also president of PDVSA, claims the Citgo
refineries have been a bad deal for Venezuela because they buy
Venezuelan oil at a discount under lousy contracts and pay
taxes in the U.S.


REFCO INC: Inverbanco Denies Dealings with Bankrupt Firm
--------------------------------------------------------
Caracas-based bank Banco Hipotecario Inversiones Turisticas SA
(Inverbanco) severed ties with bankrupt U.S. futures trader
Refco Inc. about three or four weeks ago, reports Bloomberg.

Inverbanco vice president Aracely Magaly Marquez said the move
follows a warning from Venezuela's Banking Superintendent Trino
Diaz that Refco wasn't meeting all legal requirements to
operate in the country.

"We were warned and we acted rigorously on the
recommendations," Mr. Marquez said, adding, "We have no current
deals with Refco."

Refco, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection, was the
custodian of US$85.8 million of Venezuelan government bonds for
Inverbanco, Marquez said. The bank responded by finding a new
custodian for the bonds, Mr. Marquez said.

Refco's bankruptcy documents list Inverbanco as a creditor for
US$85.81 million.


REFCO INC: Totalbank Brokerage Forecasts $867K Loss
---------------------------------------------------
Totalbank Banco Universal, a Venezuelan financial institution,
said its brokerage may lose US$867,000 in Venezuelan government
bonds because of Refco's bankruptcy filing.

Totalbank President Victor Gil revealed Refco was the custodian
of US$1.43 million in Venezuelan government bonds due 2027 for
a group of Totalbank clients. The losses stem from business
Totalbank's brokerage did with Refco, he said.

"We couldn't recover that money but the group has enough funds
to provision such a loss," Mr. Gil said.

The Caracas-based bank, which is listed as Refco's 48th largest
creditor with unsecured claims totaling US$10.66 million, sent
a request to the U.S. court handling Refco's bankruptcy to be
taken off a list of the trading company's creditors, said Mr.
Gil.

Last week, the country's stock exchange regulator requested the
brokerage to detail its current dealings with Refco, Mr. Gil
said.


SIDOR: Anticipates 4M Tons Total Production in 2005
---------------------------------------------------
Steel company Siderurgica del Orinoco (Sidor) expects to close
this year with production of around 4 million metric tons,
reports Business News Americas.

"We're going to close this year with a production level close
to 4 million tons of steel," Sidor President Julian Eguren
said.

The Company plans to raise production to 4.4 million tons, or
10% more, in 2006, Eguren said, stressing that higher
production will be achieved by increasing investments.

This year, the Company is expected to invest anywhere between
US$65 million and US$67 million and a similar amount in 2006.

Sidor is majority owned by a consortium of overseas steel
companies from Mexico, Brazil and Argentina with a 20% stake
held by the Venezuelan government.




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