TCRLA_Public/060405.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, April 5, 2006, Vol. 7, Issue 68

                            Headlines   

A R G E N T I N A

A.P. BARBINI: Trustee Stops Claims Verification on April 26
AGUAS ARGENTINAS: Faces US$487 Million Suit from Argentina
DRAF S.A.: Seeks Reorganization in Buenos Aires Court
INGENIOS S.R.L.: Creditors' Claims Verification Ends June 22
NYLJET S.A.: Verification of Proofs of Claim Ends on May 19

SABESP: Calling for Alto Tiete Partnership Tenders in May
SELAMAR S.A.: Debt Payments Halted, Moves to Reorganize
TGS: DE Shaw Increases Stake to 22.8 Percent

* ARGENTINA: Ministry Issuing US$497 Mil. of Letras de Tesoro

B A H A M A S

KERZNER INTERNATIONAL: Earns $52.2 Million in Year Ended Dec. 31

B E R M U D A

MAN GLENWOOD: Liquidator Stops Accepting Claims on April 14
MAN MAC: Creditors Must File Proofs of Claim by April 14
MAN SCION: Creditors Must File Proofs of Claim by April 14
SOLVEST LTD: Moody's Holds Ba3 Ratings on $700 Million Term Loan

B O L I V I A

BANCO MERCANTIL: Moody's Ups Currency Rating to B2 from Caa1
BANCO NACIONAL: Moody's Upgrades Currency Rating to B2 from Caa1
PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Halting US$5 Billion Investment in Bolivia
REPSOL YPF: Will Not Seek Arbitration on Changes to Contracts

* BOLIVIA: Government Nationalizes Oil & Natural Gas by July 12

B R A Z I L

CEF: Inks Partnership Agreement with Iwata Shinkin Bank
PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: ANP Suggests Handing Over Inactive Fields
SADIA SA: Moody's Puts Ba2 Local Currency Corporate Rating

C A Y M A N   I S L A N D S

BWFC FUNDING: Holds Shareholders' Final Meeting on April 3
CANTUS LIMITED: Shareholders' Final Meeting Set for April 10
CHANDER INVESTMENT: Shareholders' Final Meeting Set for April 6

C H I L E

COEUR D'ALENE: Receives Reinstatement Notice at Kensington Mine
FALCONBRIDGE: Plans to Build US$600 Mil. Hydro Plant in Aysen

C O L O M B I A

COLOMBIA TELECOM: Sets Minimum Price of 50% Stake at US$233 Mil.

* COLOMBIA: ANH Reopening Niscota Block Offering in June
* COLOMBIA: Buys Ferrocarriles del Norte Concession for US$92.5M

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

* DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Exports to Haiti Grew by 88.2%

E C U A D O R

* ECUADOR: Congress Appoints New Banking Superintendent
* ECUADOR: Guayaquil Port Has Three Prospective Purchasers

H O N D U R A S

* HONDURAS: Enters Regional Free Trade Agreement with US

J A M A I C A

SUGAR COMPANY: Lowers Production Target Due to Adverse Weather

M E X I C O

BALLY TOTAL: Obtains Waivers from Senior Secured Noteholders
GENERAL MOTORS: Building US$600-Mil Assembly Plant in Mexico
METROFINANCIERA: IFC Will Decide April 24 on Warehouse Credit

N I C A R A G U A

* NICARAGUA: Carries Out First Export Under US Trade Pact

P A N A M A

* PANAMA: Puerto Armuelles Oil Refinery Will Cost US$6 Billion
* PANAMA: S&P's Ratings Reflect Stable Political Environment

P E R U

* PERU: Waiting for US$400M IDB Loan to Finance Camisea Project

P U E R T O   R I C O

R&G FINANCIAL: Sells US$150 Million of Series A Preferred Stock

T R I N I D A D   &   T O B A G O

DIGICEL: Inks Interconnection Pact with TSTT

U R U G U A Y

BANCO HIPOTECARIO: Unveils Restructuring Plan

* URUGUAY: Pays US$630 Million to IMF Clearing All 2006 Dues

V E N E Z U E L A

PDVSA: Investing US$123 Billion Through 2012 for E&P Projects
SINCOR: Aims to Produce Up to 210,000b/d of Crude by Year-End

* VENEZUELA: Pays US$25 Mil. to Settle Suit Filed by Enbridge
* VENEZUELA: Exxon Wants to Further Stay Amid Criticisms


                            - - - - -

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


A.P. BARBINI: Trustee Stops Claims Verification on April 26
-----------------------------------------------------------
Sergio Bernardo Vinuesa -- the trustee appointed by the Buenos
Aires court for the A.P. Barbini S.R.L. bankruptcy case -- will
stop validating claims file by the company's alleged creditors
on April 26, 2006.

Mr. Vinuesa will present the validated claims in court as
individual reports on June 9, 2006.  The trustee will also
submit a general report on the case on Aug. 7, 2006.

The trustee can be reached at:

         Sergio Bernardo Vinuesa
         Calle 49 Numero 365, La Plata
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


AGUAS ARGENTINAS: Faces US$487 Million Suit from Argentina
----------------------------------------------------------
Aguas Argentinas S.A. is facing a 1.5 billion pesos lawsuit
filed by the Argentine government in relation with its rescinded
water concession contract.

Eduardo Mondino, an Argentine ombudsman, has also petitioned a
local court for an injunction against Aguas Argentinas to
prevent the ousted water concessionaire from disposing or
selling assets.  The ombudsman also asked that all funds, bonds,
securities and accounts will also be frozen, Business News
Americas cited a report from El Comercio.

According to the ombudsman, the injunction request was made "to
safeguard the interests of the citizens that have been affected
by the actions of Aguas Argentinas, both for the case started
regarding the lack of water pressure, as well as the cases of
erroneous billing, deterioration of housing resulting from
rising groundwater and bills charged for services that were not
provided."

"Aguas Argentinas faces still unresolved lawsuits for more than
1.5 billion pesos," Ombudsman Mondino was quoted as saying by
newspaper Infobae, adding that the authorities "hope the judge
will rule as soon as possible" on freezing the firm's assets in
the country.

Aguas Argentinas' water concession contract was cancelled by the
government because of the company's alleged failure in carrying
out promised investments and poor quality services, including
nitrates contamination of water in part of Buenos Aires.

The company was controlled by the French services company Suez
and its Spanish partner Aguas de Barcelona, who had been
negotiating with the government to change the terms of the
contract due to the effects of the 2002 peso devaluation.

The government has created the new company Agua y Saneamientos
Argentinos to replace Aguas Argentinas.  This will be 90% owned
by the state and 10% owned by employees.


DRAF S.A.: Seeks Reorganization in Buenos Aires Court
-----------------------------------------------------
Draf S.A. filed a petition for reorganization before Buenos
Aires Court after failing to pay its liabilities, Infobae
reports.

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.


INGENIOS S.R.L.: Creditors' Claims Verification Ends June 22
------------------------------------------------------------
The verification phase for the claims submitted by Ingenios
S.R.L.'s creditors has started, Argentine daily La Nacion
reports.  The verification will end on June 22, 2006.  Creditors
who are unable to submit claims after the said date will be
excluded from receiving any distribution or payment that the
company will make.

Ingenios S.R.L. was declared bankrupt by Buenos Aires' Court No.
6, with the assistance of Clerk No. 11.  The court selected Edit
Lilian Rey as the company's trustee.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Ingenios S.R.L.
         Lavalle 1537
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Edit Lilian Rey
         Avenida Presidente Roque Saenz Pena 651
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


NYLJET S.A.: Verification of Proofs of Claim Ends on May 19
-----------------------------------------------------------
Julio Cesar Escapovilla, court-appointed trustee, has started
verifying claims against Nyljet S.A.

La Nacion relates that Buenos Aires' Court No. 5 declared the
company bankrupt in favor of Susan Ragonesi, whom the company
owes $37,104.

Clerk No. 9 assists the court in this case.

The debtor can be reached at:

         Nyljet S.A.
         Parral 115
         Buenos Aires, Argentina

The trustee can be reached at:

         Julio Cesar Escapovilla
         Avenida Corrientes 3859
         Buenos Aires, Argentina


SABESP: Calling for Alto Tiete Partnership Tenders in May
---------------------------------------------------------
Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo aka
Sabesp, a Sao Paulo water utility, will call for bids in May for
Alto Tiete water supply public-private-partnership aka PPP,
Leonardo Silva Macedo -- the company's technical representative
-- told Business News Americas.

Business News Americas says that Sabesp is conducting a public
consultation on the bidding rules until April 13.

"We hope to incorporate the feedback into our final bidding
document and publish the rules early May," Mr. Macedo said to
Business News.

Sabesp, says Business News, expects to sign a contract with the
winning bidder in October.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 20, 2006,
the project includes expansion of the Taiacupeba wastewater
treatment plant and administrative control of the plant with
Sabesp as the direct user and the construction of pipelines for
water supply and service between the Alto Tietas river, water
reservoirs and treatment stations that service the city.

Sao Paulo gets 15% of its water from the Tiete river.  Upon
completion of the water supply expansion project, the supply is
expected to increase to 20%, Business News reports.

A company spokesperson had said that Alto Tietas PPP is Sabesp's
most ambitious expansion project.

                          *     *     *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Oct. 3, 2005,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB-/Stable/--'
corporate credit rating to Companhia de Saneamento Basico do
Estado de Sao Paulo aka Sabesp.


SELAMAR S.A.: Debt Payments Halted, Moves to Reorganize
-------------------------------------------------------
Buenos Aires' Court No. 9 is studying the request for
reorganization submitted by local company Selamar S.A., says La
Nacion.

The report adds that that the company filed a petition to
reorganize following cessation of debt payments on March
28,2006.

The city's Clerk No. 18 assists the court on this case.

The debtor can be reached at:
  
      Selamar S.A.
      Lavalle 2024
      Buenos Aires, Argentina


TGS: DE Shaw Increases Stake to 22.8 Percent
--------------------------------------------
The American Investment Fund, DE Shaw Laminar, concluded the
acquisition of a 7.6% stake of Transportadora de Gas del Sur aka
TGS, increasing its participation in the company up to the
22.8%.  The sale was facilitated by the investment fund JP
Morgan.

In February, DE Shaw acquired a 15.2% stake of the company for
US$114.6 million.  In relation to the shares, JP Morgan was not
informed about the price at the close of the operation.  

TGS, with a current firm contracted capacity of approximately
71.4 MMm3/d or 2.5 Bcf/d, is Argentina's leading transporter of
natural gas.  TGS's controlling shareholder is Compania de
Inversiones de Energia S.A., which holds approximately 55.3% of
the company's common stock.

                        *    *    *

As reported by Troubled Company Reporter on April 1, 2005,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services changed its ratings on TGS
S.A.'s US$201.14 million and US$89.00 million Inter-American
Development Bank bonds to 'B-' from 'CCC+'.


* ARGENTINA: Ministry Issuing US$497 Mil. of Letras de Tesoro
-------------------------------------------------------------
The Argentine Minister of Economy issued on March 27 a "Letras
de Tesoro" for US$407 million, which will become due in 12
months.

The interest rate will be 4.6% per year, to be paid at the due
date.

The new title will be by suscription to the "Fondo Fiduciario
for the Reconstruction of companies," through Banco Nacion.

The debt is non-transferrable and will not be priced at the
local or international markets.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Argentina:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     RD      Dec. 14, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B-      Jun.  3, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      B       Jun.  3, 2005


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B A H A M A S
=============


KERZNER INTERNATIONAL: Earns $52.2 Million in Year Ended Dec. 31
----------------------------------------------------------------
Kerzner International Limited delivered its financial statements
for the year ended Dec. 31, 2005, to the Securities and Exchange
Commission on Mar. 31, 2006.

The company reported $52,217,000 of net income on $721,524,000
of net revenues for the year ended Dec. 31, 2005.

At Dec. 31, 2005, the company's balance sheet showed
$2,276,622,000 in total assets, $1,111,097,000 in total
liabilities, and $1,161,762,000 in total stockholders' equity.

Full-text copies of Kerzner International Limited's Annual
Reports are available at no charge at
http://ResearchArchives.com/t/s?772

                  About Kerzner International

Kerzner International Limited -- http://www.kerzner.com/--   
through its subsidiaries, is a leading international developer
and operator of destination resorts, casinos and luxury hotels.  
The Company is also a 37.5% owner of BLB Investors, L.L.C.,
which owns Lincoln Park in Rhode Island and pari-mutuel racing
facilities in Colorado.  In the U.K., the Company is currently
developing a casino in Northampton and received a Certificate of
Consent from the U.K. Gaming Board in 2004.  In its luxury
resort hotel business, the Company manages ten resort hotels
primarily under the One&Only brand.  The resorts, featuring some
of the top-rated properties in the world, are located in The
Bahamas, Mexico, Mauritius, the Maldives and Dubai.  An
additional One&Only property is currently in the planning stages
in South Africa.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Mar. 22, 2006,
Moody's Investors Service placed the ratings on review for
downgrade on Kerzner International Limited's Ba3 Corporate
Family Rating and B2 Guaranteed Senior Subordinate Ratings; and
Kerzner International North America, Inc.'s (P) B2 Guaranteed
Senior Subordinate shelf.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Mar. 22, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services placed its ratings on the
hotels and a casino owner and operator Kerzner International
Ltd., including its 'BB-' corporate credit rating, on
CreditWatch with negative implications.


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


MAN GLENWOOD: Liquidator Stops Accepting Claims on April 14
-----------------------------------------------------------
Beverly Mathias -- liquidator of Man Glenwood Diversified
Holdings Ltd. -- will no longer accept claims from the company's
creditors after April 14, 2006.  Creditors with unverified
claims will be excluded from receiving any distribution or
payment that the company will make.

Creditors are required to send by the said date their full
names, addresses, descriptions, the full particulars of their
debts or claims, and the names and addresses of their lawyers
(if any) to Ms. Mathias.

A final general meeting will be held at the office of the
liquidator on May 5, 2006, at 9:30 a.m., or as soon as
possible thereafter, at:

         Argonaut Limited
         Argonaut House, 5 Park Road
         Hamilton HM O9, Bermuda

The meeting will be held for the purposes of:

   -- receiving an account laid before them showing the manner
      in which the winding-up of the company has been conducted
      and its property disposed of and of hearing any
      explanation that may be given by the Liquidator;

   -- by resolution determining the manner in which the books,
      accounts and documents of the company and of the
      Liquidator will be disposed of; and

   -- by resolution dissolving the company.

The company began liquidating assets on March 29, 2006.


MAN MAC: Creditors Must File Proofs of Claim by April 14
--------------------------------------------------------
Creditors of Man Mac 2 Limited are given until April 14, 2006,
to prove their claims to Beverly Mathias, the company's
liquidator, or be excluded from receiving any distribution or
payment that the company will make.

Creditors are required to send by the said date their full
names, addresses, descriptions, the full particulars of their
debts or claims, and the names and addresses of their lawyers
(if any) to Ms. Mathias.

A final general meeting will be held at the office of the
liquidator on May 5, 2006, at 9:30 a.m., or as soon as
possible thereafter, at:

         Argonaut Limited
         Argonaut House, 5 Park Road
         Hamilton HM O9, Bermuda

The meeting will be held for the purposes of:

   -- receiving an account laid before them showing the manner
      in which the winding-up of the company has been conducted
      and its property disposed of and of hearing any
      explanation that may be given by the Liquidator;

   -- by resolution determining the manner in which the books,
      accounts and documents of the company and of the
      Liquidator will be disposed of; and

   -- by resolution dissolving the company.

The company began liquidating assets on March 29, 2006.

The liquidator can be reached at Argonaut Limited.


MAN SCION: Creditors Must File Proofs of Claim by April 14
----------------------------------------------------------
Creditors of Man Scion Master Fund Ltd. are given until
April 14, 2006, to prove their claims to Beverly Mathias, the
company's liquidator, or be excluded from receiving any
distribution or payment that the company will make.

Creditors are required to send by the said date their full
names, addresses, descriptions, the full particulars of their
debts or claims, and the names and addresses of their lawyers,
if any to Mr. Mathias.

A final general meeting will be held at the office of the
liquidator on May 5, 2006, at 9:30 a.m., or as soon as
possible thereafter, at:

         Argonaut Limited
         Argonaut House, 5 Park Road
         Hamilton HM O9, Bermuda

The meeting will be held for the purposes of:

   -- receiving an account laid before them showing the manner
      in which the winding-up of the company has been conducted
      and its property disposed of and of hearing any
      explanation that may be given by the Liquidator;

   -- by resolution determining the manner in which the books,
      accounts and documents of the company and of the
      Liquidator will be disposed of; and

   -- by resolution dissolving the company.

The company began liquidating assets on March 29, 2006.

The liquidator can be reached at Argonaut Limited.


SOLVEST LTD: Moody's Holds Ba3 Ratings on $700 Million Term Loan
----------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned a Ba3 rating to new senior
secured credit facilities for Dole Food Company, Inc., and
Dole's wholly owned subsidiary -- Solvest, Ltd. -- under an
unconditional secured guarantee from Dole.  Moody's also
affirmed Dole's B1 corporate family rating, as well as the Ba3
rating on Dole's and Solvest's existing senior secured debt.  
The ratings on existing Dole senior unsecured notes were
downgraded to B3 from B2.  The B3 rating on second lien debt at
Dole Holding Company, LLC was affirmed.  The outlook is
negative.  The action comes as Dole is refinancing existing
credit facilities with new facilities.

Ratings Assigned:

   Issuer: Dole Food Company, Inc.

   * $175 million senior secured 7-year term loan at Ba3
   * $50 million senior secured 7-year pre-funded letter of
        credit facility at Ba3

   Issuer: Solvest, Ltd.

   * $700 million senior secured 7-year term loan at Ba3
   * $50 million senior secured 7-year pre-funded letter of
        credit facility at Ba3

Ratings Affirmed:

   Issuer: Dole Holding Company, LLC

   * Corporate family rating at B1, to be reassigned to Dole
     Food Company, Inc. at closing

   * $150 million senior secured 2nd lien term loan at B3

   Issuer: Dole Food Company, Inc.

   * $150 million senior secured revolving credit facility at
     Ba3

   Issuer: Solvest, Ltd.

   * $150 million multi-currency revolving credit at Ba3
   * $306 million senior secured term loan A at Ba3
   * $392 million senior secured term loan B at Ba3

Ratings Downgraded:

   Issuer: Dole Food Company, Inc.

   * Senior unsecured notes to B3 from B2
   * Senior unsecured shelf to (P)Caa1 from (P)B3
   * Senior subordinated shelf to (P)Caa2 from (P)Caa1
   * Junior subordinated shelf to (P)Caa2 from (P)Caa1

Outlook to negative from stable.

Moody's will not rate a new $325 million asset backed revolving
credit facility.  Moody's will withdraw its ratings on the
existing revolving credits and term loans of Dole Foods, Dole
Holding Company, and Solvest when the new facilities are closed.

Proceeds from the new asset based revolver, term loan, and
letter of credit facilities are intended to refinance Dole's and
Solvest's existing credit facilities.  Proceeds will also be
used to directly refinance a $150 million non-recourse term loan
at Dole's direct parent, Dole Holdings.

Moody's considered Dole's ratings in the context of the key
rating drivers cited in Moody's Rating Methodology for Global
Natural Product Processors.  Qualitative elements of Dole's
business franchise are quite strong, and reflect the profile of
a low investment grade credit.  However, Dole's credit metrics
are very weak -- particularly in light of its earnings
volatility -- and pull the overall corporate family rating down
well into the non-investment grade range.  Moody's also note
that Dole remains weakly positioned within the B1 category.

(1) Scale and diversification.

With 2005 sales of $5.8 billion, Dole is one of the largest and
most diversified fresh fruit and produce companies in the world.
Moody's view Dole as operating in three segments -- fresh fruit,
fresh vegetables, and packaged foods.  The company also sells
fresh flowers, although Moody's views this business as secondary
in importance.  Key products include bananas, ready-to-eat
salads, iceberg lettuce, canned and fresh pineapple, and fruit
cups.  The company sells product in over 90 countries, with a
majority of sales into developed markets.  Product sales are
spread geographically.  Raw material sourcing is also diverse
with less than half of raw materials coming from any single
region -- with Latin America being the largest.

(2) Franchise strength and growth potential.

Dole's has created a strong franchise over the years, with
excellent brand recognition wordwide, as well as strong market
shares in key markets.  The company holds the number 1 position
in bananas in North America and Japan, as well as the number one
position in pre-cut and packaged salads in the US. Organic
volume growth has been good.  The company's global logistics
infrastructure makes it one of only a few global companies able
to provide high quality, highly perishable product to a global
customer base -- making it a key supplier to many large
retailers worldwide.  An exception to these positive attributes
is Dole's fresh flower business, where the company has been
unable to profitably extend its brand and create a successful
business.

(3) Earnings and cash flow volatility.

Dole's earnings and cash flow can be volatile, as seen during
2005 when EBITA declined approximately 27%.  Such volatility is
due to its exposure to commodity input costs.  And with a large
portion of operations overseas, Dole's earnings are also exposed
to exchange rating fluctuations.

(4) Cost efficiency and profitability.

Dole's ratings also consider the company's recent weak operating
performance.  During 2005, Dole's reported operating income
declined almost 29% largely due to much weaker margins in their
commodity vegetable business, higher fruit costs, as well as
higher fuel and packaging costs.  Returns on assets is also low
with EBITA/average assets of below 6%.  In addition, the
business' profitability can be affected by changing
international trade regulations -- such as the recent change to
the European banana import regulations and tariffs adopted in
January 2006.  The company's overseas farms can be subject to
political risks, labor issues, and litigation.

(5) Liquidity under stress.

Dole's liquidity under stress has recently been pressured, but
will improve when the new asset-based revolving credit facility
is established.  Due to the volatility of Dole's earnings and
cash flows, liquidity during stressful industry downturns is a
key rating factor.  Recent poor operating performance has
required Dole to seek financial covenant relief from its banks.
The new credit facilities being established will initially
contain no maintenance financial covenants which -- if broken --
could result in credit availability being restricted.  The
asset-based revolver does contain a springing fixed-charge-
coverage test of 1:1 which will come into effect if excess
borrowing base availability falls below $30 million, however
Moody's does not expect this to occur in the near term.

(6) Financial policy and credit metrics.

Dole's financial metrics are weak for the B1 rating category.
Ratings are constrained by continued high leverage compounded by
reduced earnings and cash flow due to weaker operating
performance.  Significant off balance sheet operating leases and
unfunded pension plans further increase leverage.  Moody's also
includes in Dole's leverage a $150MM non-recourse project
financing at Dole's ultimate parent -- DHM Holdings.  Leverage
increased significantly during 2003 as part of the leveraged
buyout of Dole by its chairman, David Murdock.  Moody's expects
leverage to remain high in support of Mr. Murdock's strategic
initiatives, such as construction of a wellness center and
acquisition of other food product lines with perceived health
benefits.  At Dec. 31, 2005, Dole's debt/EBITDA was
approximately 6X, with negative free cash flow.

The ratings outlook is negative.  Dole's debt has increased as
the company invested in acquisitions and working capital, and
paid cash dividends.  Yet its operating performance declined
materially in 2005, and Moody's expects 2006 to be another
challenging year.  Higher fuel and packaging costs, oversupply
and low prices for commodity vegetables, and lower-than-expected
profitability in its banana business are key factors
contributing to disappointing performance.

Additionally, the uncertain impact on profitability of the
changed E.U. banana import regime as well as the event risk of
penalties resulting from Dole's involvement in an E.U. anti-
competitive practices lawsuit could result in additional charges
to earnings and a negative cash impact.  Downward rating
pressure could build if operating performance remains at current
weak levels, or if leverage increases materially -- most likely
due to leveraged acquisitions or legal settlements -- such that
3-year average debt/EBITDA much exceeds 5.5X and exceeds 6.5X in
an industry downturn, lagging 12-month free cash flow/debt falls
below 2% in a downturn, and lagging 12-month EBIT/interest falls
much below 1.25X.

A ratings upgrade is not likely over the near term given the
company's weak operating performance, high leverage levels, and
the expectation that debt-funded acquisition activity will
continue to be a part of the company's business strategy.  Over
time, however, ratings could stabilize at the B1 level if Dole
is successful in strengthening its operating performance, and is
able to reduce leverage such that 3-year average debt/EBITDA can
be sustained below 5.0X and would not exceed 6.0X in an industry
downturn, and 3-year average EBIT/Interest can be sustained
above 2.0 X.

The Ba3 rating on Dole's new senior secured term loans and pre-
funded letter-of-credit issuance facility is notched up one
level from the B1 corporate family rating to reflect the
priority position in the company's capital structure as senior
debt secured by assets and benefiting from guarantees.  The new
term loan and L/C facilities at Dole will be guaranteed on a
senior secured basis by DHM Holding, Dole Holding Company, and
Dole's domestic subsidiaries.  These facilities will not be
guaranteed by foreign subsidiaries.  The term loan and L/C
facility at Solvest will be guaranteed by DHM Holding, Dole
Holding Company, Dole Food Company, and Dole's domestic and
foreign subsidiaries.

The Dole term loan and L/C facility are secured by a second lien
on Dole's domestic inventory and receivables as well as a first
lien on the majority of Dole's other domestic assets.  A second
lien on the assets for which the Dole term loan and L/C lenders
hold a first lien has been granted to the asset-backed revolver
lenders.  Collateral excludes certain US manufacturing
facilities which have been -- and will remain -- unencumbered.

The term loan and L/C facility at Solvest will be secured by
assets of Solvest's subsidiaries and -- by way of the secured
guarantee -- by the same assets securing the Dole term loan and
L/C facility.  A mechanism in the credit facilities will provide
for pari passu sharing of collateral between the lenders to Dole
Food Company and the lenders to Solvest.  Asset coverage is
solid, and enterprise value covers the senior secured debt at a
reasonable multiple of EBITDA.  Foreign debt will represent
about 34% of debt outstanding.

The existing revolver and term loans at Solvest are guaranteed
by DHM Holding, Dole Holding Company, Dole Food Company, and
Dole's domestic and foreign subsidiaries.  The revolver at Dole
Food Company will not be guaranteed by foreign subsidiaries.  A
mechanism in the credit facilities will provide for pari passu
sharing of collateral between the lenders to Dole Food Company
and the lenders to Solvest.

Moody's notes that unlike the existing credit facilities, the
new term loans and L/C facilities lack meaningful financial
covenants which must be maintained during the life of the
facilities.  Although the facilities are secured and asset
coverage is solid, this lack of maintenance financial covenants
creates the risk that operating performance could deteriorate
significantly and collateral values erode prior to a default and
prior to lenders' having any right to take action to protect
their positions.

The Ba3 rating on Dole's existing senior secured debt is notched
up one level from the B1 corporate family rating to reflect the
priority position in the company's capital base as senior debt
secured by assets and benefiting from guarantees.

Dole's B3-rated senior unsecured notes are notched down two
levels from the corporate family rating and three levels from
the senior secured ratings to reflect their effective and
structural subordination to the secured debt at Dole and
Solvest.  The notching on the unsecured notes was widened as
-- in Moody's view -- the risk profile of these securities has
increased.

While contractual terms of the notes are unchanged, the absence
of maintenance financial covenants in the senior secured bank
facilities reduces the likelihood of an event of default or
cross acceleration of maturity for the notes in times of
financial deterioration and stress which might otherwise reduce
the expected loss on the notes.  The notes will have senior
subordinated guarantees from Dole's US subsidiaries but no
guarantees from Solvest or Dole's other foreign subsidiaries.  
The $1.1 billion of unsecured notes will be effectively
subordinated to about $1.17 billion of secured debt, L/Cs, and
capital leases, and structurally subordinated to about $750
million of Solvest indebtedness and L/Cs.

The B3 rating on Dole Holding Company's term loan is two notches
below Dole's senior implied rating, reflecting its junior
position in Dole's capital structure.  The term loan is secured
by a second lien on the capital stock of Dole Food Company, but
is not guaranteed by Dole Food Company or other subsidiaries.


=============
B O L I V I A
=============


BANCO MERCANTIL: Moody's Ups Currency Rating to B2 from Caa1
------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term global local-
currency deposit ratings of Banco Mercantil S.A. to B2 from
Caa1; and the national scale rating for local currency deposits
to Aa2.bo from A1.bo. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All other ratings assigned to Banco Nacional remain unchanged.

Moody's VP-Senior Analyst Andrea Manavella explained that the
upgrade on the local currency ratings reflects the marginally
lower risk in the Bolivian system, which is resultant from the
gradual reduction of dollarization levels for bank deposits.  
Such a trend makes it marginally easier for the monetary
authorities to support these banks in a situation of stress.  As
of December 2005, foreign currency deposits represented 81.2% of
total deposits in the system, whereas in December 2003, they
represented 90.5%.

Global local-currency deposit ratings indicate the relative
credit risk of banks on a globally comparable basis.  The global
local-currency deposit ratings for the Bolivian banks reflect
the banks' financial strength as well as the relative importance
of the banks' deposit franchises within the Bolivian financial
system and their ownership characteristics.  These factors are
among the main considerations in Moody's analysis of the
predictability of institutional support for local currency
deposit obligations.  Moody's also explained that ratings in
local currency do not take into account the convertibility and
transferability risks related to the foreign currency;
therefore, these ratings may be higher than those in foreign
currency.

"The upgrade of these banks' global local currency ratings
resulted in the upgrade of national scale deposit ratings, as
those are largely derived from global local currency ratings",
said Manavella.

National scale ratings for Bolivian banks, which carry the
identifier of ".bo", rank the likelihood of credit loss on local
and foreign currency obligations of issuers in a particular
country relative to other domestic issuers.  The national scale
ratings are intended for domestic use only and are not globally
comparable.  Moody's national scale ratings are not opinions on
absolute default risks; therefore, in countries with overall low
credit quality, even highly rated credits on the national scale
may be susceptible to default.

Banco Mercantil S.A., based in La Paz, is a multiple commercial
bank owned in its majority by the Zuazo family.  The bank owns
an important branch network and as of December 2005, assets
worth Bs4,514 million and private sector deposits worth Bs3,714
million (15.3% market share).

The following ratings were upgraded:

     -- Long-Term Global Local-Currency Deposits: upgraded to B2
        from Caa1 - Stable outlook; and

     -- National Scale Rating for Local Currency Deposits:
        upgraded to Aa2.bo from A1.bo - Stable outlook

The following ratings were not affected:

     -- Long-Term Global Foreign-Currency Deposits: Caa1
        - Stable outlook;

     -- Short-Term Global Foreign-Currency Deposits: NP - Stable
        outlook;

     -- National Scale Rating for Foreign Currency Deposits:
        A1.bo - Stable outlook; and

     -- Bank Financial Strength Rating: E - Stable outlook.


BANCO NACIONAL: Moody's Upgrades Currency Rating to B2 from Caa1
----------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term global local-
currency deposit ratings of Banco Nacional de Bolivia S.A. to B2
from Caa1; and the national scale rating for local currency
deposits to Aa2.bo from A2.bo.  All ratings have a stable
outlook.

Additionally, Moody's upgraded the national scale rating for
foreign currency deposits of Banco Nacional de Bolivia to A1.bo
from A2.bo.  The ratings carry a stable outlook.

All other ratings assigned to Banco Nacional remain unchanged.

Moody's VP-Senior Analyst Andrea Manavella explained that the
upgrade on the local currency ratings reflects the marginally
lower risk in the Bolivian system, which is resultant from the
gradual reduction of dollarization levels for bank deposits.  
Such a trend makes it marginally easier for the monetary
authorities to support these banks in a situation of stress.  As
of December 2005, foreign currency deposits represented 81.2% of
total deposits in the system, whereas in December 2003, they
represented 90.5%.

Global local-currency deposit ratings indicate the relative
credit risk of banks on a globally comparable basis.  The global
local-currency deposit ratings for the Bolivian banks reflect
the banks' financial strength as well as the relative importance
of the banks' deposit franchises within the Bolivian financial
system and their ownership characteristics.  These factors are
among the main considerations in Moody's analysis of the
predictability of institutional support for local currency
deposit obligations.  Moody's also explained that ratings in
local currency do not take into account the convertibility and
transferability risks related to the foreign currency;
therefore, these ratings may be higher than those in foreign
currency.

"The upgrade of these banks' global local currency ratings
resulted in the upgrade of national scale deposit ratings, as
those are largely derived from global local currency ratings",
said Manavella. "Moreover", the analyst noted, "gradual
improvements in the financial performance of Banco Nacional de
Bolivia and Banco Ganadero also explain the changes in their
national scale ratings in foreign currency".

National scale ratings for Bolivian banks, which carry the
identifier of ".bo", rank the likelihood of credit loss on local
and foreign currency obligations of issuers in a particular
country relative to other domestic issuers.  The national scale
ratings are intended for domestic use only and are not globally
comparable.  Moody's national scale ratings are not opinions on
absolute default risks; therefore, in countries with overall low
credit quality, even highly rated credits on the national scale
may be susceptible to default.

Banco Nacional de Bolivia S.A., headquartered in La Paz,
Bolivia, is a universal bank formed in 1872. Owned by the Bedoya
and Saavedra Groups, BNB had, as of December 2005, assets worth
Bs 5,437 million and private sector deposits up to Bs 4,560
million, which represented 18.8% of the market.

The following ratings were upgraded:

    -- Long-Term Global Local-Currency Deposits: upgraded to B2
       from Caa1- Stable outlook;

    -- National Scale Rating for Local Currency Deposits:
       upgraded to Aa2.bo from A2.bo - Stable outlook;

    -- National Scale Rating for Foreign Currency Deposits:
       upgraded to A1.bo from A2.bo - Stable outlook.

The following ratings were not affected:

    -- Long-Term Global Foreign-Currency Deposits: Caa1 - Stable
       outlook;

    -- Short-Term Global Foreign-Currency Deposits: NP - Stable
       outlook; and

    -- Bank Financial Strength Rating: E - Stable outlook.


PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Halting US$5 Billion Investment in Bolivia
---------------------------------------------------------------
Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, will
suspend its US$5 billion investment plants in Bolivia's gas
sector.

"We're not putting down a dime until the entire situation is
well defined," Jose Sergio Gabrielli, chief executive of
Brazil's state-owned oil company told the Financial Times.
"There is a set of investments that need to be made and whose
decision-making process depends on what happens in Bolivia. If
we don't have a process of negotiation on track, we will have to
delay our decisions."

As previously reported, Petrobras was holding talks with the
Bolivian government for possible partnerships with Bolivia's
Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Boliviano.

However, talks have been marred with disagreements over gas
prices.  As previously reported, Bolivian officials said that
Petrobras had ordered gas in the past but never used and it now
wants to ship that gas for the same price it was ordered.  

Bolivia decided not to sell any more gas to Brazil while gas
prices have not been raised.  

"Just as Brazil said it would not invest if they didn't like the
rules of the game, we say to Brazil, our friends, neither are
they going to see a rise in gas volumes," Bolivian hydrocarbons
minister Andres Soliz's statement in a previous report.  "They
say they want to increase our volumes of gas and we say that we
want better prices."

While Bolivia is adamant about raising gas prices, Brazil does
not seem inclined to budge.  Brazil believes that being
Bolivia's largest gas consumer, their business relationship
should continue like before.

Petrobras has invested about US$1.5 billion in Bolivia since
1996.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Petroleo Brasileiro
S.A. aka Petrobras was founded in 1953.  The company explores,
produces, refines, transports, markets, distributes oil and
natural gas and power to various wholesale customers and retail
distributors in the country.

                        *    *    *

Petroleo Brasileiro SA's long-term corporate family rating is
rated Ba3 by Moody's and its foreign currency long-term debt is
rated BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

Fitch assigns these ratings to Petroleo Brasileiro's senior
unsecured notes:

  Maturity Date           Amount        Rate       Ratings
  ______________          ______        ____       _____
  April  1, 2008        $400,000,000    9%          BB-
  July   2, 2013        $750,000,000    9.125%      BB-
  Sept. 15, 2014        $650,000,000    7.75%       BB-
  Dec.  10, 2018        $750,000,000    8.375%      BB-


REPSOL YPF: Will Not Seek Arbitration on Changes to Contracts
-------------------------------------------------------------
Spanish-Argentine energy company Repsol YPF will not seek
international arbitration regarding the modifications in the oil
and gas production contracts with the Bolivian government,
according to a statement by the Bolivian Hydrocarbons Minister.

The new head of Repsol's Bolivian subsidiary -- Julio Garcia
Sanchez -- announced the company's decision during the meeting
with the Hydrocarbons Minister Andres Soliz Rada.  Bolivia's
President Evo Morales had earlier disclosed that he would issue
a decree to nationalize the country's oil and gas industry by
July 12.

Mr. Rada had called Repsol's attitude constructive, Dow Jones
Newswires relates.  Relations between the Bolivia and the oil
firm have been tense.   

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 30, 2006,
Julio Gavito and Pedro Sanchez -- the executives of Repsol YPF's
Bolivian unit, Petrolera Andina -- are facing allegations on
forgery of customs documentations and illegal exportation of
about 230,000 barrels of oil worth more than US$9.2 million to
Argentina and Chile between 2004 and 2005.

A warrant of arrest was issued by prosecutors when Messrs.
Gavito and Sanchez skipped a court hearing on March 9, followed
by a raid in Andina's offices where the police seized documents
found inside the offices.  Three weeks after, Messrs. Gavito and
Sanchez presented themselves to the prosecutor's office where
they were detained after testifying for six hours.  They were
released on bail.

Mr. Gavito resigned to dedicate part of his time to the defense
of the company's work and its collaborators.  Taking his place
was Luis Garcia Sanchez, the LPG Andina president in Peru.  Mr.
Sanchez, on the other hand, remained in Andina.

The judge in a Santa Cruz court later ruled to lift the
US$100,000 bail imposed on Messrs Gavito and Sanchez.  The court
also ruled to loosen their travel restrictions.  

The prosecutors did not file an appeal on the court's ruling on
lifting the bail.

Dow Jones states that other oil firms are trying to rework
contracts with the government.  The new contracts would turn oil
firms as operators.

                        *    *    *

On June 20, 2005, Moody's Investors Service upgraded the ratings
of Spanish-Argentine oil company Repsol YPF's local subsidiary
YPF S.A. Moody's upgraded YPF's senior unsecured rating to Ba3
from B1 and the unit's domestic currency issuer rating to Baa2
from Baa3.

YPF's foreign currency issuer rating of Caa1 remained unchanged,
as it is constrained by the sovereign ceiling of Argentina.
YPF's Corporate Family Rating (formerly known as the senior
implied rating) is aligned with the foreign currency issuer
rating at Caa1.


* BOLIVIA: Government Nationalizes Oil & Natural Gas by July 12
---------------------------------------------------------------
The government of Bolivia will nationalize the country's oil and
natural gas industry, the Estado de S. Paulo reports.  The
country's President Evo Morales announced on March 20 that he
would issue a decree by July 12.

Dow Jones Newswires relates that the nationalization would make
foreign companies into operators and not owners of the gas and
oil resources.  Foreign oil companies will have six months to
adapt to the new rules after the decree is issued.

However, Sergio Gabrielli -- the chief executive of Brazil's
state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. aka Petrobras -- had
said in an interview to Brazilian media that Petrobras, which
has invested more than $1.5 billion in Bolivia since 1996, is
not interested in becoming only a service provider in Bolivia.  

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Bolivia:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling    B-       Jun. 17, 2004
   Long Term IDR      B-       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating     B-       Dec. 14, 2005


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


CEF: Inks Partnership Agreement with Iwata Shinkin Bank
-------------------------------------------------------
Brazil's Caixa Economica Federal signs a partnership pact with
Japanese bank, Iwata Shinkin Bank.  Under the partnership, Iwata
Shinkin will offer remittance services for Brazilians living in
Japan, according to a report from the Noticias Financieras.

                        *    *    *

As reported by the Troubled Company Reporter on March 9, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned a 'BB' currency
credit rating on Banco Itau S.A.

                        *    *    *

On Oct. 19, 2005, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Caixa
Economica Federal's long-term foreign currency deposit rating to
B1 from B2 with a positive outlook.

The action followed Moody's upgrade of Brazil's foreign currency
ceiling for deposits to B1, from B2, and the foreign currency
country ceiling for bonds and notes to Ba3, from B1. The country
ceilings have a positive outlook.


PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: ANP Suggests Handing Over Inactive Fields
--------------------------------------------------------------
Brazil's hydrocarbons regulator -- Agencia Nacional do Petroleo
-- calls on Petroleo Brasileiro SA to hand over inactive mature
oil fields to smaller companies that want to invest in the
sector, according to a report from Business News Americas.

Haroldo Lima, ANP's head, made the appeal during a meeting
between ANP officials and investors to discuss the second
licensing round for marginal inactive fields scheduled for May
31.

Mr. Lima was quoted by Business News as saying that Petrobras
has 153 inactive onshore fields with total reserves of 500
million barrels of equivalent oil.  Production from these fields
is considered too small for the state company, which has proven
reserves of 13 billion barrels of oil equivalent and produces
1.8 million barrels of oil a day.

ANP will offer 21 mature inactive fields during the tender,
which aims to attract small to medium enterprises.  In the first
round, 16 of the 17 fields offered were awarded.  The fields on
offer are part of 62 mature fields that Petrobras handed back to
ANP in 1998 following the regulator's creation, when the oil
sector was opened up to foreign investors, Business News says.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Petroleo Brasileiro
S.A. aka Petrobras was founded in 1953.  The company explores,
produces, refines, transports, markets, distributes oil and
natural gas and power to various wholesale customers and retail
distributors in the country.

                        *    *    *

Petroleo Brasileiro SA's long-term corporate family rating is
rated Ba3 by Moody's and its foreign currency long-term debt is
rated BB- by Fitch.

                        *    *    *

Fitch assigns these ratings to Petroleo Brasileiro's senior
unsecured notes:

  Maturity Date           Amount        Rate       Ratings
  ______________          ______        ____       _____
  April  1, 2008        $400,000,000    9%          BB-
  July   2, 2013        $750,000,000    9.125%      BB-
  Sept. 15, 2014        $650,000,000    7.75%       BB-
  Dec.  10, 2018        $750,000,000    8.375%      BB-


SADIA SA: Moody's Puts Ba2 Local Currency Corporate Rating
----------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned a Ba2 global local currency
scale corporate family rating to Sadia S.A.  The rating reflects
Sadia's dominant market positions across its segments with one
of the strongest brands in the Brazilian food industry, a very
competitive cost-structure, and worldwide geographic diversity.  
At the same time, the rating also reflects Sadia's exposure to
earnings volatility due to commodity price movements, the risk
of currently importing countries to impose tariffs, quotas or
barriers against Sadia's exports, and the negative free cash
flow resulting from the company's capacity expansion projects in
2006.  This is Moody's initial rating for Sadia.  The rating
outlook is stable.

Sadia's rating is supported by its position as the dominant
player in all the markets in which it operates, i.e., in frozen
and refrigerated processed products, margarine, chicken, turkey
and pork, with a solid brand in Brazil.  The rating also
recognizes Sadia's increasing percentage of revenues being
derived from less commoditized, higher-margin value-added
processed products, which is approximately 44% of total
revenues.

Sadia's net revenues have grown over 12% per year on average for
the last three years benefiting from its leading position in the
Brazilian poultry and pork export market, which have experienced
a phenomenal growth over the past few years, largely explained
by Brazilian poultry producers' entry into new export markets
combined with its competitive advantages against its peers as
far as feed and overall productions costs.

The company's growth phase, has led Sadia to earmark BRL686
million or US$312 million for 2005 to expand its current
capacity in terms of slaughter capacity in its pork, chicken and
turkey divisions, as well as to construct a new feed plant, a
second margarine plant and expand its production facility of
processed products and storage of grains. These investments,
although important to the company's strategy to add capacity for
future growth, has led to a slight negative free cash flow in
2005 and will lead to further negative free cash flow with the
planned investments of BRL 850 million in 2006.

Moody's views as growing event risk the present global spread of
high pathogenic avian influenza.  While the largest
concentration of the disease is in certain Asian countries, the
disease is spreading in Europe as well.  It is impossible to
tell if the disease will become a material problem in Brazil.  
But, should an outbreak occur, trading partners could prohibit
the import of Brazilian poultry with negative repercussions for
Brazilian producers and processors.  Sadia, with 50% of its
revenues derived from exports, is particularly exposed to the
risk of animal disease, which could lead currently importing
countries to impose barriers against its fresh meat exports.

We note Sadia's efforts to mitigate this risk through its focus
on growing its processed meat offering to export markets.  
Furthermore, Moody's recognizes that the National Plan for the
Prevention and Control of Newcastle Disease and the Prevention
of Avian Influenza for the poultry sector in Brazil as an
important mitigant to this risk when it is eventually
implemented.  This measure follows all of the International
Organization for Epizootics' standards, i.e., sanitary barriers
between states, specific regulation of animal transportation and
traceability, and will allow companies with production
capabilities in different regions of Brazil, such as Sadia, to
continue to export from the unaffected states of the country in
the case of a breakout.

Moody's Ba2 rating also recognizes Sadia's highly liquid balance
sheet based on its substantial cash and short-term investment
balance, which at the end of December 31st, 2005 amounted to
over BRL2.5 billion or US$ 1.2 billion.  However, we understand
that the company is likely to maintain a great part of such
balance for liquidity cushion purposes instead of using it for
debt repayment.  Therefore, when calculating leverage and cash
flow to debt metrics, we only net the company's gross debt by
the amount that is available to the company above the minimum
level of cash balance that the company is likely to maintain at
all times for liquidity purposes.

The stable outlook is based on the expectation that Sadia will
not be materially impacted by the current AI outbreak and be
able to post an EBITDA margin of at least 11% for its fiscal
year ending in December 31st, 2006.  Furthermore, the stable
outlook factors Moody's expectation that Sadia will generate
positive free cash flow (cash flow from operations after capital
expenditures and dividends) from 2007 onwards.

Sadia's Ba2 global local currency rating could come under upward
pressure if the company is able to deliver on its strategy to
improve its product portfolio into higher value-added products
leading to continued organic growth and increased profitability
while maintaining Total Debt / EBITDA below 3.0 times and free
cash flow to debt above 10% on a sustainable basis.

Conversely, the current rating could be downgraded if the
company's operating performance significantly deteriorates due
to the loss of key importing countries or adverse commodity
price movements leading EBITDA margins to fall below 10% on a
three-year average or Total Debt / EBITDA to increase above 4.0
times.  Similarly, the rating could come under negative pressure
if the company fails to generate positive free cash flow by
2007.

Sadia, headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, exports over 1,000
different products to approximately 100 countries and is the
largest slaughterer and distributor of poultry and pork
products, as well as the leading refrigerated and frozen protein
products company in Brazil.  For the last twelve months ending
in 2005, the company had net sales of BRL7.3 billion or US$3
billion with approximately 50% or revenues derived from exports.


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


BWFC FUNDING: Holds Shareholders' Final Meeting on April 3
----------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of BWFC Funding Company held a final meeting on
April 3, 2006, at:

           Caledonian House
           69 Dr. Roy's Drive, George Town
           Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
five years, starting from the dissolution of the company.
Destruction of the records may then be allowed after such
period.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

The liquidator can be reached at:

           Bernard McGrath
           Caledonian Bank & Trust Limited, Caledonian House
           P.O. Box 1043, George Town
           Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands


CANTUS LIMITED: Shareholders' Final Meeting Set for April 10
------------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of Cantus Limited will meet on April 10, 2006, at
10:00 a.m. for an extraordinary final general meeting at:

           CLSA
           18/F One Pacific Place
           88 Queensway, Hong Kong
          
Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
five years, starting from the dissolution of the company.
Destruction of the records may then be allowed after such
period.

Any person who is entitled to attend and vote at this meeting
may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his stead.  A proxy
need not be a member or a creditor.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

           Josephine Price
           c/o M&C Corporate Services Limited
           P.O. Box 309, George Town
           Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands


CHANDER INVESTMENT: Shareholders' Final Meeting Set for April 6
---------------------------------------------------------------
Shareholders of Chander Investment Corp. will convene for a
final general meeting on April 6, 2006, at 11:30 a.m. at the
registered offices of:

             Deloitte
             Fourth Floor, Citrus Grove,
             P.O. Box 1787, George Town
             Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Accounts on the company's liquidation process will be presented
during the meeting.  The shareholders will also authorize the
liquidators to retain the records of the company for a period of
five years, starting from the dissolution of the company.
Destruction of the records may then be allowed after such
period.

The company's liquidator can be reached at:

             Attention: Joshua Taylor at Deloitte
             Stuart Sybersma
             P.O. Box 1787 George Town
             Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
             Telephone: (345) 949-7500
             Facsimile: (345) 949-8258


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


COEUR D'ALENE: Receives Reinstatement Notice at Kensington Mine
---------------------------------------------------------------
Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation has received notification that
the United States Army Corps of Engineers has reinstated Coeur
Alaska's 404 permit authorizing activities related to the
construction of the company's tailings disposal facility at the
Kensington underground gold mine in Alaska.

"We're confident the Corps of Engineers has done a diligent job
in reviewing the permit," said Dennis E. Wheeler, Coeur's
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer.  "The
reinstatement is a validation of the rigorous scientific and
engineering analysis that formed the basis of the original
permit.  The reinstatement is also a validation of the
fundamental environmental soundness of Kensington."

Wheeler added, "We will now focus on moving forward with the
full-scale construction of the mine," said Wheeler.  "We look
forward to seeing this project fulfill its promise of generating
significant economic value for investors, employees, and the
economy of Southeast Alaska.  We believe we are in a position to
begin producing gold at Kensington during 2007."

Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation -- http://www.coeur.com/-- is  
the world's largest primary silver producer, as well as a
significant, low-cost producer of gold.  The Company has mining
interests in Nevada, Idaho, Alaska, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia
and Australia.   

                        *     *     *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on Oct. 4, 2004,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed its 'B-' corporate
credit and senior unsecured debt ratings on Coeur D'Alene Mines
Corporation and removed the ratings from CreditWatch, where they
were placed on June 1, 2004, with positive implications.  S&P
said the outlook is stable.  


FALCONBRIDGE: Plans to Build US$600 Mil. Hydro Plant in Aysen
-------------------------------------------------------------
Falconbridge is planning to build a US$600 million 740MW rio
Cuervo hydroelectric plant in Chile's Aysen district, Business
News Americas reports.  This is part of the company's Energia
Austral project.

The construction of the plant is still being studied, states
Business News.  

The hydro plant would supply energy exclusively to the central
SIC grid, a source close to Falconbridge said to Business News.

Business News relates that Falconbridge assures that the Rio
Cuervo project would have low environmental impact.  The Energia
Austral project is located within the properties of Falconbridge
that have high hydro potential and are of no use for cattle
breeding or tourism.

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Falconbridge Limited --
http://www.falconbridge.com/-- produces nickel products.  It
owns nickel mines in Canada and the Dominican Republic.  It
operates a refinery and sulfuric acid (used in refining) plant
in Norway.   It is also a major producer of copper (38% of
sales) through its Kidd mine in Canada and its stake in Chile's
Collahuasi mine and Lomas Bayas mine.  Its other products
include cobalt, platinum group metals, and zinc.

                        *    *    *

Falconbridge's CDN$150 million 5% convertible and callable bond
due April 30, 2007, carries Standard & Poor's BB+ rating.


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


COLOMBIA TELECOM: Sets Minimum Price of 50% Stake at US$233 Mil.
----------------------------------------------------------------
The government of Colombia has set the minimum price for a 50%
stake in Colombia Telecomunicaciones S.A. at $233 million, Dow
Jones Newswires reports.  The government will grant the
controlling stake, plus one share, on April 7.

Dow Jones relates that bidders are required to submit an offer
in a closed envelope.  However, the auction will go on even
after the envelopes are opened.

To continue participating, firms are required to make a bid that
is at least COP40 billion higher than the previous highest bid,
Dow Jones adds.

The Colombian government will hold as many rounds as needed to
select a winner, Alfonso Gomez Palacios -- chief executive of
Colombia Telecom -- told Dow Jones.  He expected that the
auction would bring at least $350 million to his firm.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 22, 2006,
a consortium by Cablecentro and Swedtel -- now joined by Phone 1
-- will bid in Colombia Telecom auction, along with Telefonica
S.A., CA Nacional Telefonos de Venezuela and Telefonos de Mexico
S.A.

What makes Telecom attractive in spite of its liabilities is its
presence in 990 municipalities and its 5,000 points of service,
Mr. Palacios had told Business News Americas.

The Troubled Company Reporter also reported on March 22, 2006,
that municipal telcos Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota
S.A. aka ETB and Empresas Publicas de Medellin S.A. aka EPM
backed out of the auction due to discriminatory bidding
conditions.  Among the conditions ETB president Rafael Orduz
considered discriminatory is the requirement that no monies
belonging to the Colombian people may be used in the
partnership.  ETB, which could only finance a strategic
partnership with the state telco through currently held assets,
would be forced to take out a loan.

According to Business News, the tender also requires the winning
company to surrender its Internet and data unit to Telecom,
which Orduz found absurd.  Mr. Ordiz said that with this
condition, ETB would lose one of its more important units.

Business News relates that Telmex made an offer in 2005 for the
50% plus one share of Telecom.  The company was willing to pay
about US$350 million, but the Colombian government backed out of
the deal to embark on a broader bidding process.

Gina Paola Achuri -- Cablecentro's executive director -- told
Business News that the sale process has been overly favorable
for Telmex, which has had access to Telecom's key information
since August 2005.

Former central bank board member and director of think-tank
National Association of Financial Institutions, Sergio Clavijo,
had said to Dow Jones that the state-run company needs a foreign
partner to exit from its precarious financial condition.  
Colombia Telecomunicaciones is facing a COP5 trillion of pension
liability that, according to Mr. Palacios, the winner would have
to pay by 2022 and only then would the ownership be transferred.

"Neither the company nor the government have a financial muscle
needed to keep investing in this company," Mr. Clavijo had told
Dow Jones.


* COLOMBIA: ANH Reopening Niscota Block Offering in June
--------------------------------------------------------
The hydrocarbons regulator of Colombia, ANH, plans to reopen the
Niscota block bidding in June, Armando Zamora -- the regulator's
general director -- said during the Latin Upstream conference in
Rio de Janeiro.

Business News Americas relates that ANH has awarded blocks on a
first-come first-served basis.  For this year, however, it plans
to hold a bidding round for 2.5 million offshore acres in the
Caribbean that partners in the Tayrona exploration block.  This
is due to the additional and reliable geological information
available on Tayrona and other areas, which means more firms are
interested and can bid competitively.

According to Business News, Mr. Zamora said that ANH also spent
a considerable amount collecting geological data, which would
make awarding a contract privately not transparent.

ANH will give the block to the firm that offers the highest
percentage of production to the government, Business News
states.

Niscota is located in Piedemonte, in the Casanare department,
Mr. Zamora said to Business News.  Its potential reserves could
be as much as 500 million barrels.  The work program for Niscota
will cost more or less US$50 million.

For three years, UK oil firm BP invested about US$80 million in
exploring Niscota.  In July 2005, the company abandoned the
block after finding no oil and gas, Business News reports.

                        *    *    *

On May 30, 2005, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Colombia's ratings
as:

      -- Long-term foreign currency 'BB';
      -- Country ceiling 'BB';
      -- Local currency 'BBB-';
      -- Short-term 'B'.

Fitch said the Rating Outlook is Stable.


* COLOMBIA: Buys Ferrocarriles del Norte Concession for US$92.5M
----------------------------------------------------------------
The Colombian government has purchased rail company
Ferrocarriles del Norte aka Fenoco from its owners for US$92.5
million, newspaper La Republica quoted Odinsa president Luis
Fernando Jaramillo as saying.

Fenoco was previously owned by Odinsa along with Spanish firm
Dragados y Construcciones, Indian company Rites, Tecsa,
Nedtrans, Transportes Sanchez Polo and In-Pocarga.

The concessionaire operates the Atlantico rail network between
Bogota and the northern coast.  Coal miners Drummond and
Glencore, and others, will operate the network, the paper quoted
government officials as saying.

The concession covers 1,493km between Bogota and Santa Marta,
passing through Barrancabermeja in Santander department and the
ports of Salgar, Dorada and Drummond.

Shareholders had originally priced Fenoco at US$250 million due
to losses and legal problems that arose since the 30-year
concession was awarded in July 1999, Business News Americas
relates.

"The agreement with the coal multinationals includes
construction of four branches off the current line, which would
benefit other mining and agricultural production centers," La
Republica quoted one government official as saying.

Business News states that the Fenoco purchase will help address
the lack of state involvement in transport infrastructure
development in recent decades, which has been acknowledged by
transport minister Andres Uriel Gallego.

                        *    *    *

On May 30, 2005, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Colombia's ratings
as:

      -- Long-term foreign currency 'BB';
      -- Country ceiling 'BB';
      -- Local currency 'BBB-';
      -- Short-term 'B'.

Fitch said the Rating Outlook is Stable.


===================================
D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C
===================================


* DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Exports to Haiti Grew by 88.2%
----------------------------------------------------
The Dominican Republic's exports to Haiti grew by 88.2% in 2005.

During the past year, Haiti represented the second trade market
for exports of national products, the Dominican Today reports.  
Haiti purchased at the rate of US$122.1 million -- that is,
88.2% more than in 2004, when Dominican Republic exported to
that country a sober US$64.8 million-worth.

Over twenty-nine percent (29.7%) of construction rods produced
in the Dominican Republic were sold to Haiti.  This product
represented 11.8% of the total exports to that nation, the
Dominican Today relates.

Other products exported to Haiti include eggs, wheat flour,
pastas, coconuts, and herring fish.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on the Dominican Republic:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     B-       May 11, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B-      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      B        May 11, 2005


=============
E C U A D O R
=============


* ECUADOR: Congress Appoints New Banking Superintendent
-------------------------------------------------------
The Ecuadorian Congress appointed earlier last week Alberto
Chiriboga Acosta as banking superintendent in place of Alejandro
Maldonado, Dow Jones Newswires reports.  Mr. Acosta will be the
superintendent until January 2007.

Dow Jones recalls that Mr. Maldonado was fired in December last
year.  The Congress had reasoned that, among other things, he
was lax in dealing with failed state-controlled bank Filanbanco,
which was acquired by the state in 1998 but closed in 2001 due
to a severe financial crisis.

The government, according to Dow Jones, sent lists of candidates
for the superintendent position on January 18 and March 1.  The
lists were rejected by the Congress.  When the third list came
on March 22, the Congress chose Mr. Acosta.


                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Ecuador:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     B-      Aug. 29, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B-      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005


* ECUADOR: Guayaquil Port Has Three Prospective Purchasers
----------------------------------------------------------
Three companies have expressed their intentions to pre-qualify
for a 20-year concession to operate the Guayaquil port in
Ecuador.

The potential bidders are:

   -- local company Transagent,
   -- Chilean air and port services company Sudamericana
      Agencias Aereas y Maritimas (SAAM) and

   -- Philippine-Singapore consortium Ictsi-PSA.

Three more bidders are expected to register before the
prequalification will end on April 14.  A list of eligible
bidders is expected to be ready in May, with contract signing
scheduled for December.  

Other firms that have requested information and have met with
port authorities include Andrade Gutierrez, Hamburg Sud,
Hutchinson, Mediterranean Shipping, Ultramar, Maersk, CICE and
Dragados.

The private operator will have to invest US$150 million to
operate the port, Business News Americas reports.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Ecuador:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     B-      Aug. 29, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B-      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005


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


* HONDURAS: Enters Regional Free Trade Agreement with US
--------------------------------------------------------
Honduras entered into a regional free trade agreement with the
United States, the Associated Press reports.  The country was
joined by neighbor Nicaragua.

Honduras is embarking on a different and extremely important
path for the strengthening of democracy, President Manuel Zelaya
was quoted by AP saying.  He believes that the treaty is a way
to broaden growth possibilities and reduce poverty in his
country.

The move has provoked protests from thousands farmers, street
vendors, university students and several others, who have
marched in cities across Central America to protest the trade
agreement.

Leftist Honduran lawmaker -- Doris Gutierrez -- told AP that the
pact violates the constitution, omitting all possibilities that
small and medium-size producers can compete.

Products from the US already dominate Honduras' import market
and US buys few products from Honduras, Ms. Gutierrez said to
AP.  

                        *    *    *

Moody's Investor Service assigned these ratings on Honduras:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Senior Unsecured    B2       Sept. 29, 1998
   Long Term IDR       B2       Sept. 29, 1998


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


SUGAR COMPANY: Lowers Production Target Due to Adverse Weather
--------------------------------------------------------------
The Sugar Company of Jamaica has revised downwards the sugar
production target for the current season as a result of the poor
quality of cane that resulted from adverse weather conditions,
the Jamaica Observer reports.

The company, whose factories produce the bulk of the island's
sugar, now expects to produce 115,000 tons of sugar from 1.4
million tons of cane for the 2005 to 200606 season.  This will
translate into a ratio of one ton of sugar for 12.4 million tons
of cane.

"The quality of the cane reaped to date is lower than expected,"
the company said in a press statement.  "All the estates so far
have suffered from poor quality cane, which is directly related
to unfavorable weather conditions."

In addition, SCJ's president and chief executive officer
Livingstone Morrison, said that progress at the firm was being
hampered by inadequate capital.

"We have never been provided with a capital budget from which to
adequately finance the projects that must be implemented to
solve the longstanding problems," Mr. Morrison said. "We are
convinced that any objective review will show that we have done
a creditable job under difficult circumstances. If given the
required resources, we can transform the Sugar Company of
Jamaica into an efficient and profitable enterprise."

The SCJ said that sugar estates had recovered faster than the
cane farmers from the hurricanes and drought of 2005, and that
while other agricultural sectors such as banana and coffee
benefited from government assistance to recover from the impact
of poor weather, the sugar cane industry did not.

Last year, the SCJ factories lost US$602 million from 181,000
metric tons of sugar -- an improvement over 2003, when a loss of
US$807 million was made from 153,500 tons of sugar produced.

SCJ registered a net loss of almost US$1.1 billion for the
financial year ended Sept. 30, 2005, 80% higher than the
US$600 million reported in the previous financial year.  The SCJ
blamed its financial deterioration to the reduction in sugar
cane production.


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


BALLY TOTAL: Obtains Waivers from Senior Secured Noteholders
------------------------------------------------------------
Bally Total Fitness Holding Corporation has obtained an
amendment and waiver from the lenders under its US$275 million
senior secured credit facility that, among other things, extends
both time for delivering audited financial statements for the
fiscal year ended December 31, 2005, and unaudited financial
statements for the quarters ending March 31 and June 30, 2006,
while also permitting payment of consent fees to the holders of
its 10-1/2% Senior Notes due 2011 and its 9-7/8% Senior
Subordinated Notes due 2007.

On March 27, 2006, the company commenced the necessary consent
solicitation process with respect to its Senior Notes and
Subordinated Notes.  The record date for determining holders
eligible to submit consents is March 20, 2006.  Noteholders who
have already submitted Letters of Consent pursuant to the
consent documents distributed on March 27, 2006 are not required
to take any action to receive payment of the consent fee in the
event the requisite consents are received and the fee becomes
payable in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in
Bally's Consent Solicitation Statements.  Noteholders who have
not yet delivered consents are asked to submit the previously
distributed Letters of Consent in order to consent and receive
any consent fees that may be paid by the Company.  The consent
date is 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on April 7, 2006.  As
previously announced, holders of approximately 53% of the
Subordinated Notes have entered into agreements with Bally to
consent to the requested waivers.

Bally has retained MacKenzie Partners, Inc., to serve as the
information agent and tabulation agent for the consent
solicitation.  Questions concerning the consent solicitation or
requests for documents may be directed to

                MacKenzie Partners, Inc.
                Attention: Jeanne Carr
                Madison Square Station,
                P.O. Box 865
                New York NY 10160- 1051
                (212) 929-5500 (call collect)
                (800) 322-2885 (toll- free)

Bally Total Fitness -- http://www.ballyfitness.com/-- is the   
largest and only U.S. commercial operator of fitness centers,
with approximately four million members and 440 facilities
located in 29 states, Mexico, Canada, Korea, China and the
Caribbean under the Bally Total Fitness(R), Crunch Fitness(SM),
Gorilla Sports(SM), Pinnacle Fitness(R), Bally Sports Clubs(R)
and Sports Clubs of Canada(R) brands.  With an estimated 150
million annual visits to its clubs, Bally offers a unique
platform for distribution of a wide range of products and
services targeted to active, fitness-conscious adult consumers.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 17, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services held its ratings on Chicago-
based Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., including the 'CCC'
corporate credit rating, on CreditWatch with developing
implications, where they were placed on Dec. 2, 2005.

The CreditWatch update follows Bally's announcement that it will
not meet the March 16, 2006, deadline for filing its annual
report on SEC Form 10-K for the year ending Dec. 31, 2005.
Bally currently anticipates filing its 2005 10-K in April 2006.

Bally's ratings were originally placed on CreditWatch on Aug. 8,
2005, following the commencement of a 10-day period after which
an event of default would have occurred under the Company's $275
million secured credit agreement's cross-default provision and
the debt would have become immediately due and payable.
Subsequently, Bally entered into a consent with lenders to
extend the 10-day period until Aug. 31, 2005.  Prior to Aug. 31,
the company received consents from its bondholders extending its
waiver of default to Nov. 30, 2005.  


GENERAL MOTORS: Building US$600-Mil Assembly Plant in Mexico
------------------------------------------------------------
General Motors Corp. will spend US$600 million to US$650 million
to build a small-car assembly plant in Mexico, employing 1,800
to 2,300 workers, the Associated Press reports.

The plant is expected to become operational in 2008.  It will be
build in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, according
GM spokesman Carlos Gelista.  He told the AP that the Mexican
government is providing financial incentives for the project,
with construction starting in May or June.

The plant will produce compact and subcompact vehicles which
will not be sold in the United States, the same report says.

"We are looking to try to export some of the production of that
plant to Central America and South America," he told the Detroit
Free Press. He did not say how many vehicles it would build
annually but said it would make 30 vehicles an hour.

                    About General Motors

General Motors Corp. -- http://www.gm.com/-- the world's  
largest automaker, has been the global industry sales leader for
75 years.  Founded in 1908, GM today employs about 327,000
people around the world.  With global headquarters in Detroit,
GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries.  In 2005,
9.17 million GM cars and trucks were sold globally under the
following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo,
Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall.  GM
operates one of the world's leading finance companies, GMAC
Financial Services, which offers automotive, residential and
commercial financing and insurance.  GM's OnStar subsidiary is
the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information
services.

GM lost US$10.6 billion in 2005, largely due to declining US
sales and rising costs.  The company is in the midst of a
restructuring plan and has offered buyouts to its 113,000 US
hourly workers in hopes of cutting its hourly work force by
30,000 by 2008.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 31, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services placed all its ratings,
including its 'B' long-term and 'B-3' short-term corporate
credit ratings, on General Motors Corp. on CreditWatch with
negative implications.  This action stems from:

   * GM's disclosure in its 2005 10-K that the recent
     restatement of its previous financial statements raises
     potential issues regarding access to its $5.6 billion
     standby credit facility; and

   * the possibility that certain lease obligations of as much
     as $3 billion could be subject to possible claims of:

             -- acceleration,
             -- termination, or
             -- other remedies.

On March 29, 2006, Moody's Investors Service lowered the ratings
of General Motors Corporation: Corporate Family Rating and
senior unsecured to B3 from B2 and Speculative Grade Liquidity
Rating to SGL-3 from  SGL-2.  The outlook is negative.  GMAC and
ResCap are unaffected.

The GM rating actions come in response to the company's
disclosure that restatements of its 2002, 2003 and 2004
financial statements could result in the acceleration of as much
as $3 billion in various lease obligations and in the company
potentially not being be able to borrow under its $5.6 billion
unused revolving credit facility.  Moody's said that although
GM's $20.4 billion cash and short-term VEBA position should
afford the company adequate liquidity to repay the affected
lease obligations if necessary, this reduction in liquidity
increases the company's risk profile at a time when it faces
considerable ongoing operating and competitive challenges.


METROFINANCIERA: IFC Will Decide April 24 on Warehouse Credit
-------------------------------------------------------------
The International Finance Corporation will ask on April 24, its
board of directors for authorization to grant a warehouse credit
line to Mexico's fifth largest home finance company --
Metrofinanciera S.A. de C.V.

The loan is expected to be split into a US$200 million revolving
warehouse credit line provided by IFC and an investment bank and
a partial credit guarantee to a US$100 million warehouse credit
line provided by another investment bank, the IFC said in a
statement.

The proposed project is intended to help Metrofinanciera
diversify its sources of funding and support the development of
the low to middle-income segments of the Mexican housing sector.

                        *    *    *

As reported on Apr. 3, 2006, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services
said that it assigned its 'BB-' long-term counterparty credit
rating to Metrofinanciera S.A. de C.V. Sociedad de Objeto
Limitado.  S&P said the outlook is stable.
      
At the same time, Standard & Poor's assigned its 'B-'  
subordinated debt rating to Metrofinanciera's $100 million  
perpetual noncumulative subordinated step-up securities.
      

=================
N I C A R A G U A
=================


* NICARAGUA: Carries Out First Export Under US Trade Pact  
---------------------------------------------------------
Nicaragua President Enrique Bolanos confirmed the country's
first export -- a $20,000 shipment of beans -- under the
regional free trade agreement with the United States, the
Associated Press reports.  

Following El Salvador's move last month, Nicaragua entered the
pact with neighboring country Honduras on Saturday, AP relates.

A spokesman of the president told AP that Nicaragua hopes a 20%
boost in its exports as well as the creation of more jobs.

Joining the trade agreement, however, provoked thousands of
farmers, street vendors, university students and several others
into marching in cities across Central America in protest, AP
states.

The pact violates the constitution, omitting all possibilities
that small and medium-size producers can compete, a leftist
Honduran lawmaker named Doris Gutierrez was quoted by AP saying.

While US products already ruled Honduras' import market, the US
buys few products from Honduras, Ms. Gutierrez said to AP.  She
expected that it would hurt Honduran economy.

                        *    *    *

Moody's Investor Service assigned these ratings to Nicaragua:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Long Term          Caa1     June 30, 2003
   Senior Unsecured
   Debt                B3      June 30, 2003


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


* PANAMA: Puerto Armuelles Oil Refinery Will Cost US$6 Billion
-------------------------------------------------------------
The construction of an oil refinery in Puerto Armuelles will
cost about US$6 billion, according to a technical feasibility
study conducted by US firms Occidental, Purvin & Gurtz and
Jacobs.

The country's President Martin Torrijos received the preliminary
findings last week, Purvin & Gertz senior principal -- Geoffrey
Houlton -- told Business News Americas.

According to a presidential statement, the refinery could have a
processing capacity of 350,000 barrels of crude per day -- about
seven times the current national demand.  The refinery, states
Mr. Houlton, would serve all of the west coast of the Americas
without targeting any one specific market.

Government spokesperson -- Eduardo Martinez -- confirmed to
Business News that construction could start at the end of 2007,
predicting completion after 18-24 months.

Mr. Houlton said the US firms are expecting to start operations
in 2011.

The US firms are completing paperwork with the ministry of
commerce and industry and the ministry of economy and finance,
Mr. Martinez said to Business News.  The paperwork could be
ready in six months.

Mr. Houlton, says Business News, revealed that more in-depth
studies are being conducted of the overall market.  He expected
them to be completed within six months.

Among concerns of the studies is the supply of crude for the
refinery, which, as Mr. Houlton stated, had no specific crude
source, Business News relates.  

Latin America would act as the source of supply, Jan Sieving --
Occidental spokesperson -- told Business News.  However, he
found the study very preliminary and not core to their
operations.  "Its just an interesting business opportunity," he
said.

The US firms conducting the studies are also considering plans
for the construction of a generation plant to supply the
refinery itself, Mr. Martinez said to Business News.

The spokesperson, however, did not provide any specifics
regarding the construction of the plant, Business News reports.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Panama:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling    BBB      Apr.  8, 2005
   Long Term IDR      BB+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR       B      Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating     BB+      Dec. 14, 2005


* PANAMA: S&P's Ratings Reflect Stable Political Environment
------------------------------------------------------------
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services gives the Republic of Panama
BB/Stable/-- and BB/Stable/B for its local currency and foreign
currency credit ratings, respectively.

The ratings on the Republic of Panama reflect a stable political
environment.  Since General Manuel Noriega's dictatorship (1985-
1989) ended, the presidency has alternated between the country's
two main political parties, the Partido Revolucionario
Democratico or PRD and the Partido Arnulfista or PA, whose chief
policy differences center on the size and role of the state in
the economy.  Panama has undergone major political and
institutional changes since 1999, including the transfer of
ownership of the Panama Canal.  Long-standing monetary stability
has been anchored by use of the U.S. dollar as the official
currency since 1904.  Dollarization has underpinned
macroeconomic policy stability and fairly constant "rules of the
game."  It underpins low inflation, which has averaged 1.2% for
the last five years and is projected at a bit above 2% during
2006 and 2007.

However, Panama's debt burden contributes to fiscal rigidities
that limit policy flexibility.  Given official dollarization,
the Panamanian government has only fiscal policy at its disposal
to respond to economic shocks.  Fiscal expenditure rigidities
include payroll, social security, and interest payments that
should capture a projected 20% of general government revenue
during 2006 and 2007.  The interest burden, in turn, reflects
gross general government debt of 58% of GDP for 2006, excluding
holdings of government debt by the social security regime.  The
lower net debt burden, projected at 41% for 2006, reflects large
asset holdings including the Trust Fund for Development or TFD
and deposits at Banco Nacional de Panama or BNP.

To put Panama's fiscal accounts on a stronger footing over the
medium term, President Martin Torrijos' government passed a
fiscal reform package in February 2005 that included expenditure
restraint and increased taxation.  As a result, the general
government deficit is projected to decline to 2.9% of GDP in
2006 and 1.6% of GDP in 2007 from 4.2% and 5.5% of GDP in 2005
and 2004, respectively.  In addition, reform of the social
security system in December 2005 put the accounts on a stronger
medium-term basis.

Real GDP growth is projected at 6% in 2006 following two robust
years of growth, 6.4% in 2005 and 7.6% in 2004.  Strong global
and regional economic activity has underpinned increased exports
of goods and services; infrastructure projects have been
supported by tax incentives on construction, and there has also
been a pick-up in consumption. Progress on implementing a free-
trade agreement with the U.S. and expansion of the Panama Canal
provide important boost to growth as well.  Higher growth rates
and additional economic diversification, such as through
increased tourism, would help mitigate Panama's dual economic
structure, which contributes to income inequalities, relatively
high unemployment, and poverty.  Economic activity is highly
concentrated in the country's two major cities, Panama City and
Colon. The internationally oriented services sector is not labor
intensive, excluding tourism, and has limited links with the
rest of the economy.

The stable outlook weighs still-high fiscal rigidities and a
short track record of deficit reduction against incipient signs
of important growth momentum.  Continued fiscal consolidation
and strengthening of fiscal institutions amid evidence of deeper
foundations for growth could support improved creditworthiness.  
Creditworthiness could come under downward pressure by
unforeseen fiscal deterioration.  Standard & Poor's assumes that
any expansion of the Panama Canal, which would enhance economic
opportunities in Panama, will be managed in a fiscally prudent
manner that imposes little pressure on government finances.


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


* PERU: Waiting for US$400M IDB Loan to Finance Camisea Project
---------------------------------------------------------------
The Inter-American Development Bank was quoted by the Financial
Times as saying that new financial support for Peru's Camisea
natural gas project would be dependent on the completion of
environmental and technical audits.

IDB is being pressured by environmental non-governmental
organizations concerned about the project's impact on the Amazon
jungle and its indigenous population, following five spills of
liquid gas during the first 18 months of the pipeline's
operation.  The most recent of the spills occurred in February,
the FT relates.

Peru needs up to US$400 million in fresh capital to finance a
plant that will liquefy natural gas extracted in the Amazon
jungle, a project that will significantly increase Peru's
revenues.

Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB's president, told the FT at the bank's
annual conference this weekend:  "We are not even close to
approving the loan. Without the audit we can't go to the second
phase."

The Camisea project "has forced contact with some of the last
native Amazonians living in isolation, led to epidemics among
vulnerable indigenous communities, and despoiled one of the
world's most bio-diverse regions with massive erosion and
contamination," Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon
Watch, told the FT.

Ms. Soltani also claims that unqualified workers were deployed
on the pipeline and that some pipes laid along the 185km stretch
where the spills occurred were corroded even before they were
laid, the FT relates.

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Peru:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB      Nov. 18, 2004
   Long Term IDR       BB      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB+     Dec. 14, 2005


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


R&G FINANCIAL: Sells US$150 Million of Series A Preferred Stock
---------------------------------------------------------------
R&G Financial Corporation, a Puerto Rico-chartered bank holding
company, announced that it is selling, through its wholly owned
Florida subsidiary, R&G Acquisition Holdings Corporation, US$150
million of non-cumulative perpetual, Series A preferred stock.  
The Series A Preferred Stock is being sold to a small group of
investors in a private placement which will close on March 31,
2006, pays a 9.5% annual dividend rate which is payable in
quarterly installments, and is non-callable for seven years,
except in certain circumstances including a change of control of
RGF, RAC or its wholly owned subsidiary, R-G Crown Bank, FSB,
subject to regulatory approval.  

R&G Acquisition's Series A Preferred Stock has the same priority
with respect to dividends and rights upon liquidation as R&G
Financial's other outstanding series of preferred stock with
respect to R&G Financial.  The Series A Preferred Stock has been
structured to fully count as Tier 1 regulatory capital on
consolidation.
    
Consistent with the terms of a Securities Purchase Agreement
entered into with the investors, R&G Acquisition is contributing
US$15 million to R-G Crown and will retain US$15 million, which
is US$750,000 more than the dividend payments due on the Series
A Preferred Stock for one year.  R&G Acquisition will transfer
to R&G Financial US$120 million of the remaining proceeds, which
R&G Financial will use to make capital contributions to R-G
Premier Bank of Puerto Rico, its Puerto Rico commercial bank,
and R-G Mortgage Corporation, its wholly owned Puerto Rico
mortgage corporation subsidiary, as needed, and for general
corporate purposes.  RGF has previously stated in its public
filings that both it and its two banking subsidiaries, R-G
Premier and R-G Crown, were well capitalized at December 31,
2005.  The new capital will further strengthen the regulatory
capital ratios of R&G Financial and its subsidiary banks.
    
In connection with the transaction, R&G Financial is granting
the investors immediately exercisable warrants to purchase
between an aggregate of 8 and 10 million shares of R&G Financial
common stock at an exercise price which will range from US$12 -
US$14 per share.  Initially, warrants for 10 million shares have
been issued at a US$12.00 per share exercise price.  For every
quarter that R&G Acquisition pays its dividend on the Series A
Preferred Stock, the number of warrants decreases by 250,000,
down to a minimum of 8 million shares, and the per share
exercise price increases by US$0.25, up to a maximum of US$14.00
per share.  Conversely, if R&G Acquisition fails to pay a
quarterly dividend, the number of R&G Financial warrants
correspondingly increases and the exercise price correspondingly
decreases, but never to more than 10 million shares or less than
a US$12.00 per share exercise price.  The ability of R&G
Financial and its subsidiaries to pay dividends is subject to
the prior approval of its regulators.
    
R&G Acquisition is also granting the investors Additional
Purchase Rights Investments that provide the investors with the
right to monetize a 20% interest in the value of R&G Acquisition
and R-G Crown.  In accordance with an Additional Purchase Rights
Investment Agreement, the APRIs have an initial aggregate value
of US$80 million.  Beginning five years from the date of closing
of the private placement, or earlier in the event of a change of
control, and not later than ten years from the closing of the
private placement, the investors can require an appraisal of R&G
Acquisition/R-G Crown, which shall be based on the average of
the public market value and the control sale value of the
entity.  Upon exercise of the APRIs, at R&G Financial's
election, it may issue shares of R&G Financial common stock or
cash to the investors equal to the greater of

(i) 20% of the appraised value so determined or
(ii) US$80 million, in each case minus the strike price

An aggregate of 8 million APRIs have been issued to the
investors at an exercise price of US$10.00 per APRI.  For every
quarter that R&G Acquisition shall fail to pay a dividend on the
Series A Preferred Stock, the exercise price of the APRIs will
decline by US$0.4894375.

Under the various agreements, the investors must pay for the
exercise of the RGF warrants or the APRI through a corresponding
reduction in the outstanding Series A Preferred Stock, subject
to regulatory approval, thereby minimizing the dilutive impact
of the exercise.
    
R&G Financial and R&G Acquisition have agreed not to take
certain actions that would impair or jeopardize the investment
made by the investors.  Thus, for so long as the Series A
Preferred Stock is outstanding, R&G Acquisition will not

(i) pledge the common stock of R-G Crown or
(ii) issue debt or equity senior to the Series A

Preferred Stock without the permission of the holders of a
majority in interest of the Series A Preferred Stock, except
that outstanding indebtedness such as R&G Acquisition's trust
preferred securities may be refinanced on more favorable terms.  
Further, R&G Financial and R&G Acquisition will not permit

   (a) RG Premier or R-G Crown to make distributions of
       dividends when the effect would cause them to not be
       "well capitalized" or at any time when the bank is not
       well capitalized under applicable regulations or
   
   (b) permit R-G Crown to engage in transactions with
       affiliates that would violate applicable regulations.  If
       R&G Financial or R&G Acquisition violates either of the
       first two covenants, or if R&G Acquisition incurs a loss
       of US$100 million or more (or the investors incur a loss
       in value of RAC of US$20 million or more) as the result
       of violations of the last two covenants (except, that
       with respect to the covenant on transactions with
       affiliates, the monetary penalty only applies to
       transactions where R&G Acquisition or its subsidiary
       improperly purchases assets from an affiliate), the
       exercise price of the R&G Financial warrants declines to
       US$1.00 per warrant, the exercise price of each APRI
       declines from US$10.00 to US$0.01, and R&G Financial and
       R&G Acquisition are required to use commercially
       reasonable best efforts to sell R-G Crown.
    
Financial Stocks, Inc., which manages over US$3 billion in
assets and specializes in, among other things, investing in
banks, thrifts, insurance companies, REITs, real estate
operating companies and specialty finance companies, was the
lead investor in the private placement.  Steve Stein, FSI's co-
founder and its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, has been
elected a member of the Board of Directors of RAC and R-G Crown.  
Elliott Associates, L.P. was also a major investor in the
transaction.  Elliott, along with a sister fund, has more than
US$5.6 billion of capital under management and provides private
capital to both private and public firms worldwide.  Keefe
Bruyette & Woods, Inc. served as placement agent and R&G
Financial's financial advisor in connection with the private
placement.  KBW delivered an opinion to the RGF Board of
Directors in connection with the transaction.  Patton Boggs LLP
served as RGF's counsel in connection with the private
placement.  FSI was represented by Alston & Bird LLP and Elliott
was represented by Dechert LLP in this transaction.
    
Mr. Victor Galan, RGF's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
commenting on the transaction, stated: "I am extremely gratified
at the significant demonstration of confidence in RGF and its
future prospects which has been shown by these investors.  The
dollars raised in this offering will bolster our capital
position and those of our bank subsidiaries.  The capital is
intended to serve as a bridge that will allow us to complete our
financial restatement process and get current in our public
financial reporting responsibilities, and will allow for
reasonable balance sheet growth through 2007, at which time we
would hope to be able to access the public capital markets at a
more normalized valuation."
    
Mr. Galan continued: "Our management team, along with outside
consultants, is working diligently to complete the restatement
of our consolidated financial statements for the years ended
December 31, 2002 through 2004.  While no assurance can be given
because there are many factors beyond our control, we hope to be
able to file our Form 10-K/A for 2004 as early as possible
during the summer of 2006.  Our expectation and intention would
be to begin to file our 2005 reports thereafter as expeditiously
as possible.  At the same time, we are diligently working at
strengthening our internal controls and implementing changes
that have been recommended by outside consultants.  We have also
been making significant progress negotiating the 'unwinding' of
loan sale transactions we previously engaged in with other
Puerto Rico financial institutions that have been
recharacterized as secured borrowings.  We are optimistic that
we will be able to resolve a significant number of these
transactions in the near future, which will facilitate our
ability to sell a substantial portion of such loans to third
party investors, thereby further strengthening our capital
position.  All such 'unwinding' transactions will be undertaken
following the approval of our regulators".
    
The company also has indicated that its previous common stock
dividend of US$0.09375, or US$0.375 when annualized, per share,
which was paid on March 23, 2006, will be the last dividend paid
on the common stock until the company completes the restatement
of its audited financial statements and gets current in its
public reporting obligations for 2005 and 2006.  With respect to
the March dividend, Mr. Galan again refused to accept any
dividend on his Class A shares of common stock, which thereby
facilitated a higher dividend payment to the Class B public
stockholders than would otherwise have been the case.  In taking
such action, the Board of Directors at its March 29 Board
meeting determined that it was prudent and appropriate to
suspend further dividend payments on the common stock to
conserve the Company's capital as it strives to complete its
restatement and public reporting obligations.  In taking this
action, Mr. Galan concluded with the following statement.  "I
wish to assure all stockholders and persons who do business with
the RGF network of companies that all of the actions that we are
taking are dedicated to strengthening RGF. We are working
diligently with our regulators to comply with our outstanding
regulatory orders and to restore the public confidence and
esteem that R&G Financial has enjoyed throughout its history."
    
Finally, the company indicated that pursuant to its outstanding
regulatory orders with the federal government and the
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, it had requested and received
permission to pay its dividend obligations for April on its four
outstanding series of preferred stock and four of its trust
preferred securities issues that have payments due in April.

R&G Financial, currently in its 34th year of operation, is a
diversified financial holding company with operations in Puerto
Rico and the United States, providing banking, mortgage banking,
investments, consumer finance and insurance through its wholly
owned subsidiaries R-G Premier, R-G Crown, its Florida-based
federal savings bank, R&G Mortgage Corporation, Puerto Rico's
second largest mortgage banker, Mortgage Store of Puerto Rico,
Inc., a subsidiary of R&G Mortgage, R-G Investments Corporation,
the Company's Puerto Rico broker-dealer, and R-G Insurance
Corporation, its Puerto Rico insurance agency.  At December 31,
2005, the Company operated 34 bank branches in Puerto Rico, 33
bank branches in the Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg and
Jacksonville, Florida and Augusta, Georgia markets, and 63
mortgage offices in Puerto Rico, including 32 facilities located
within R-G Premier's banking branches.

                        *    *    *

As reported by the Troubled Company Reporter on March 22,2006,
Fitch's ratings on R&G Financial Corporation and its
subsidiaries are:

  R&G Financial Corporation:

     -- Long-term Issuer Default Rating 'BBB-'
     -- Preferred stock 'BB'
     -- Individual 'C'
     -- Support '5'

  R&G Mortgage:

     -- L-T IDR 'BBB-'

  R-G Premier Bank:

     -- L-T IDR 'BBB-'
     -- Short-term 'F3'
     -- Individual 'C'
     -- Support '5'
     -- L-T deposit obligations 'BBB'
     -- S-T deposit obligations 'F2'

  R-G Crown Bank:

     -- L-T IDR 'BBB-'
     -- Short-term 'F3'
     -- Individual 'C'
     -- Support '5'
     -- L-T deposit obligations 'BBB'


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


DIGICEL: Inks Interconnection Pact with TSTT
--------------------------------------------
Digicel Ltd. and the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and
Tobago finally inked an interconnection agreement after months
of negotiations mediated by the Telecommunications Authority of
Trinida and Tobago.

The Trinidad Express relates that as of April 2, TSTT mobile
customers would have had access to the Digicel network and vice-
versa.

The interconnection privilege will come without additional cost
to the customers (other than current call rates), until the
ruling of an arbitration panel.  Also, Digicel will not have to
pay retroactive interconnection rates for inter network usage.

The arbitration team, consists of Rory Mc Millan, a UK-based
lawyer who also practises in the US and Canada, economist and
TATT director Dr. Ronald Ramkissoon and TATT director Dr. Shahid
Hussain, have three months to decide interconnection rates.

TSTT officials emphasized that they have honored their
commitment to allow the traffic between the two networks to flow
even without a commercial agreement in place, the Trinidad
Express relates.  

Digicel Limited is a wireless services provider in the Caribbean
region founded in 2000, and controlled by Denis O'Brien.  The
company started operations in Jamaica in April 2001 and now
offers GSM mobile services in 13 countries of the Caribbean
including Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Aruba, Grenada,
Barbados, Cayman, and Curacao among others.  Digicel finished
FY2005 with 1.722 million total subscribers -- 97% pre-paid --
estimated market share of 67% and revenues and EBITDA of US$478
million and US$155 million, respectively.

                        *    *    *

On Mar. 10, 2006, Fitch affirmed the 'B' rating of Digicel
Limited, senior unsecured debt, including the US$300 million
senior notes due 2012, following the announcement that it is in
the process of acquiring Bouygues Telecom Caraibe.  Fitch said
the Outlook for the Ratings is Stable.


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


BANCO HIPOTECARIO: Unveils Restructuring Plan
---------------------------------------------
The second largest bank of Uruguay -- Banco Hipotecario aka BHU
-- announced a restructuring plan on Thursday, the government
said in a statement.  

Miguel Piperno -- president of BHU -- told Business News
Americas in January that the firm's restructuring plan would
allow it to return to lending in the second half of this year.

Business News relates that BHU's loan operations have been
suspended since 2002, when Uruguay suffered a severe financial
crisis, as an effect brought about by the Argentine meltdown.

Business News reports that the restructuring plan includes the
creation of a new unit that will manage the bank's past-due
loans and cut operating costs as well as massive dismissals.

According to Business News, BHU's past-due loans were about
68.4% of total loans in 2004 -- up from the 66.2% at the same
time in 2004.

Moody's Investors Service had questioned BHU's viability last
year due to the bank's deteriorated balance sheet, Business News
recalls.  The ratings agency placed the bank at the lowest level
of E.  

Business News adds that housing minister Mariano Arana said that
since 2002 the Uruguayan government has spent about US$82.6
million to capitalize BHU.  

"To capitalize the bank does not mean to keep dumping money. To
capitalize means to recuperate BHU's bad loans effectively,
among other things," economy minister Danilo Astori was quoted
by Business News saying.

Press reports state that the International Monetary Fund said
that the Uruguayan government would need an additional US$400
million for the capitalization of BHU.

BHU, says Business News, had faced fierce resistance from
banking union AEBU even before the restructuring plan was
announced.  The union feared that the program would result to
firing employees.

Mr. Piperno revealed to Business News that BHU will spend about
US$1.4 million this year for the revamp of its technology
processes as well as the integration of its platforms.

BHU chose earlier in March the local unit of French bank Credit
Agricole, consulting firm KPMG and a law firm to structure the
securitization of 5% of its commercial loan book.  The
securities will be offered to both institutional and individual
investors. Proceeds from the transaction will be used to reopen
credit lines and increase the bank's liquidity, Business News
reports.

                       *    *    *

On Jan. 25, 2006, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned
'B-' foreign currency senior unsecured debt rating to Banco
Hipotecario S.A.'s $100 million issuance.  The issuance
constituted the second tranche of BH's Series IV notes due Nov.
16, 2010, issued under the $1.2 billion senior unsecured global
MTN program.  With this issuance, the series (whose first
tranche was rated 'B-' on Nov. 16, 2005) will total US$250
million.  At the same time, Standard & Poor's affirmed its
ratings on the Argentine bank's outstanding debt and its 'B-
/Stable/--' counterparty credit ratings.  S&P said the outlook
is stable.

                        *    *    *

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter on March 28, 2006,
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised the foreign and local
currency counterparty credit ratings on Banco Hipotecario S.A.
At the same time, Standard & Poor's placed the ratings on
several Argentine entities on CreditWatch with positive
implications.  These rating actions follow the upgrade on the
Republic of Argentina.

Earlier, S&P raised our global foreign and local currency
ratings on Argentina to 'B' from 'B-' and the ratings on the
national scale to 'raAA-' from 'raA', reflecting Argentina's
improved external and fiscal flexibility.

The outlook on the sovereign rating is stable.

S&P's transfer and convertibility risk assessment for Argentina
was raised to 'BB-', two notches higher than Argentina's foreign
currency rating.

S&P raised the rating on Banco Hipotecario one notch to
'B/Stable/--', in tandem with the sovereign upgrade on
Argentina, reflecting the close linkage between the credit
quality of the sovereign and that of its financial system.


* URUGUAY: Pays US$630 Million to IMF Clearing All 2006 Dues
------------------------------------------------------------
Uruguay has made a US$630 million up-front principal payment to
the International Monetary Fund, clearing all its debts for the
remainder of 2006, the country's economy minister Danilo Astori
was quoted by the Associated Press as saying during a press
conference late last week.  Actual interest savings would run to
US$8.4 million.

According to the IMF's Web site, Uruguay had owed US$626 million
in principal and US$95 million in charges and interest that
would have accrued on that balance over the course of 2006, Dow
Jones Newswires relates.

The country's total outstanding loans were US$2.32 billion.
With the full payment for this year, the country's outstanding
debt to the Fund is lowered to US$1.6 billion.

Minister Astori disclosed during the press conference that
Uruguay will continue looking to exchange expensive debt for
cheaper debt, short maturities for longer maturities and
conditional debt for sovereign debt.  He cited the government's
last issuance of US$500 million in long-term external bonds as
an example of this strategy.

Minister Astori said the payment was made without consideration
of the debt management strategies of other countries.  This was
in reference to Brazil and Argentina, both of which in recent
months have paid down the entirety of their debts to the IMF,
Dow Jones states.

Brazil's full payment of its IMF debt was done in friendlier
terms in contrast with Argentina's trumpeting of its
independence from IMF policies.

As for Uruguay, the relationship with the IMF has been amicable.  

                        *    *    *

Fitch Ratings assigns these ratings on Uruguay:

                     Rating     Rating Date
                     ------     -----------
   Country Ceiling     BB-      Mar. 7, 2005
   Long Term IDR       B+      Dec. 14, 2005
   Short Term IDR      B       Dec. 14, 2005
   Local Currency
   Long Term Issuer
   Default Rating      BB-      Mar. 7, 2005



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


PDVSA: Investing US$123 Billion Through 2012 for E&P Projects
-------------------------------------------------------------
Venezuela's Petroleos de Venezuela aka PDVSA plans to invest
US$123 billion through 2012 to expand exploration, production
and refining, company Chief Financial Officer Eudomario Carruyo
told Busines News Americas.

"The bulk will go towards exploration, but an important
component [of the funds] will go towards refining, deep
conversion [a process to obtain the most saleable product from
each barrel of crude] and three new refineries," Mr. Carruyo
told Business News.

In 2050, the company estimated that the six year plan will cost
about US$56 billion.  PDVSA later announced its involvement in
two new high-profile projects, a:

   -- US$20 billion pipeline to transport natural gas to
      Argentina and Brazil; and

   -- US$300 million natural gas pipeline to Colombia.

PDVSA is Venezuela's state oil company in charge of the
development of the petroleum, petrochemical and coal industry,
as well as planning, coordinating, supervising and controlling
the operational activities of its divisions, both in Venezuela
and abroad.

                        *    *    *

On Jan. 23, 2005, Fitch Ratings upgraded the local and foreign
currency ratings of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. aka PDVSA to
'BB-' from 'B+'.  The rating of PDVSA's export receivable future
flow securitization, PDVSA Finance Ltd, was also upgraded to
'BB+' from 'BB'.  In addition, Fitch has assigned PDVSA a
'AAA(ven)' national scale rating.  The Rating Outlook is Stable.
Both rating actions follow Fitch's November 2005 upgrade of
Venezuela's sovereign rating.


SINCOR: Aims to Produce Up to 210,000b/d of Crude by Year-End
-------------------------------------------------------------
Venezuelan heavy oil strategic association Sincrudos de Oriente
Sincor, C.A., aka Sincor aims to product up to 210,000 barrels a
day (b/d) of crude by the end of the year, Donis Ysaac -- the
company president -- told Business News Americas.  

Mr. Ysaac said that after completing in March a scheduled
maintenance stoppage for 21 days, there will be no more
maintenance stoppages through the rest of the year,
Business News relates.

Sincor, which is currently producing up to 195,000b/d, is
authorized to produce 114,000b/d and has to pay a 16.7% royalty
and a 34% tax on that amount.  Business News states that on the
difference between the authorized production and what it is
currently producing, the firm has agreed to pay the 30% royalty
that new projects pay.  

According to Business News, new projects in the Orinoco belt
have to pay a 50% tax.  Mr. Ysaac said his firm is currently
paying the 34% charged on existing projects.

Fitch Ratings assigns BB rating on Sincor Finance Inc.'s long-
term senior unsecured notes.


* VENEZUELA: Pays US$25 Mil. to Settle Suit Filed by Enbridge
-------------------------------------------------------------
Venezuela has paid US$25 million to Canadian oil companies --
Enbridge Inc. and Williams Co. -- to settle an arbitration case
for terminating a port contract, a government source familiar
with the case told Dow Jones Newswires.

An executive at Williams told Dow Jones that the case has been
"settled," and provided no more details.

Enbridge filed a suit against Venezuela in the International
Chamber of Commerce's arbitration court after it was barred from
entering the port during a national strike that lasted from late
2002 to early 2003, Dow Jones relates.  During the strike, which
crippled the oil industry, Venezuela accused Enbridge and
Williams of sabotaging and abandoning the Jose port.  State-
owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA terminated the contract when the
strike ended.

The two companies denied the accusations, saying operations were
shut because storage facilities were full and no tankers were
available to transport the oil.

                     About Williams Co.

Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Williams Companies produces,
gathers, processes and transports clean-burning natural gas to
heat homes and power electric generation.

                    About Enbridge Inc.

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Enbridge Inc. The company's
gas utilities provide natural gas to more than 1.7 million
customers in Ontario, Quebec, and New York. It also operates
more than 1,800 miles of natural gas pipeline connecting Alberta
and British Columbia in Canada to the Chicago markets. A major
crude oil and liquids transporter, Enbridge moves nearly 1.7
million barrels of crude oil a day.

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.


* VENEZUELA: Exxon Wants to Further Stay Amid Criticisms
--------------------------------------------------------
Exxon Mobil Corp., a US major oil company, expressed its
intention to keep its existing assets in Valenzuela, regardless
of recent criticisms dished out by Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez,
Dow Jones Newswires reports.

The company disclosed in an emailed statement to Dow Jones,
"Exxon Mobil of Venezuela continues to have a long-term
perspective of its activities in Venezuela and maintains a
respectful relationship with the Ministry of Energy and
Petroleum."

Exxon received a scolding from the minister because it has sold
its stake to a small oil field last year to Repsol YPF instead
of becoming a partner to state-owned company, Petroleos de
Venezuela SA.  

"Exxon Mobil ... preferred to sell to Repsol, its partner in the
agreement, instead of adjusting.  We said we don't want them
here then," Mr. Ramirez said in a televised interview.

Mr. Ramirez did not indicate if Exxon would be pushed out of its
existing projects in the state but explicitly said that other
companies are to be given preference if they are willing to
accept the recent oil policy changes.

"We have a lot of partners, many capacities and many countries
that are interested in administering our resources with us,"
said Ramirez.

Exxon has resisted tax and contract changes in Venezuela under
the nationalist administration of President Hugo Chavez.  In
2004, it was the only company to resist a royalty hike on ultra
heavy oil production in eastern Venezuela, and threatened to
take the issue to international arbitration.

                        *    *    *

Venezuela's foreign currency long-term debt is rated B2 by
Moody's, B+ by Standard & Poor's, and BB- by Fitch.

                            ***********


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

Troubled Company Reporter - Latin America is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Fairless
Hills, Pennsylvania, USA, and Beard Group, Inc., Frederick,
Maryland USA.  Lyndsey Resnick, Marjorie C. Sabijon and Sheryl
Joy P. Olano, Stella Mae Hechanova, Editors.

Copyright 2006.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
publication in any form (including e-mail forwarding, electronic
re-mailing and photocopying) is strictly prohibited without
prior written permission of the publishers.

Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed
to be reliable, but is not guaranteed.

The TCR Latin America subscription rate is $575 per half-year,
delivered via e-mail.  Additional e-mail subscriptions for
members of the same firm for the term of the initial
subscription or balance thereof are $25 each.  For subscription
information, contact Christopher Beard at 240/629-3300.


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