TCRLA_Public/171117.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

            Friday, November 17, 2017, Vol. 18, No. 229



MERCADOLIBRE: In Tax Dispute With Authorities
CITY OF BUENOS AIRES: S&P Rates $1.5BB Local Currency Notes 'B+'


RIO PARANAPANEMA: S&P Raises CCR to 'BB+'; Outlook Still Negative


BOLIVIA: To Rebuild Mairana-Bermejo Road with 64MM-IDB Support

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Approves US$17BB Budget Amid Protest


MICHOACAN: Looks to Learn From China's Special Economic Zones

P U E R T O    R I C O

HALAIS GROUP: Court Refuses to Stay Financing Order Pending Appeal


PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: S&P Cuts CCR to SD on Missed Payment
VENEZUELA: Signs Deal on $3.15 Billion Restructuring With Russia
VENEZUELA: China Makes No Offer of Debt Relief
VENEZUELA: Officials Offer Few Details During Restructuring Talks

                            - - - - -


MERCADOLIBRE: In Tax Dispute With Authorities
Taos Turner at The Wall Street Journal reports that the founder of
MercadoLibre Inc. said the company might consider moving its
headquarters from Argentina after finding itself at the center of
a dispute with the country's tax agency.

Argentina's tax authority, AFIP, has been considering plans to
charge the company some $28 million in tax benefits that
MercadoLibre obtained through a law aimed at benefiting software
companies, according to people familiar with the matter, reports
The Wall Street Journal.

Some AFIP officials said the law shouldn't apply to MercadoLibre,
which, like eBay, allows users to buy and sell goods and services
through its website, the report notes.  AFIP declined to comment,
saying the secrecy of taxpayer information is protected by law,
the report relays.

"You see how Amazon is getting bids from cities/countries to see
where it should put its second headquarters?" Marcos Galperin,
MercadoLibre's chief executive, said in a post on Twitter, the
report notes.  "Perhaps it could be a good idea for us to do the
same, right? he added.

Mr. Galperin, who has previously used Twitter to comment on public
policy, appeared to have deleted the post, the report says.

Government officials said that now isn't a good time to target
MercadoLibre or any other software company, especially since
President Mauricio Macri is encouraging tech companies to invest
in Argentina, the report notes.

Argentina's production ministry said it believes MercadoLibre
should benefit from the law, the report relays.

"The Ministry will pass this message on to AFIP in the coming
days," the ministry said, the report notes.

In its statement, MercadoLibre said it is up to the production
ministry to decide whether companies should benefit from the law.
Meantime, the ministry said it had been asked by the tax agency to
offer its opinion on the matter, the report says.

Mr. Macri has repeatedly praised the company, saying it is
precisely the kind of modern, digitally-driven company that
Argentina's economy needs, the report notes.

"Fortunately we have our own MercadoLibre," Mr. Macri said,
comparing the company with Amazon, the report relays.

The WSJ discloses that MercadoLibre said it hadn't been notified
by AFIP that it had any tax issues.  The company said it has
complied with all rules related to the software law and that its
membership in the program has been repeatedly approved by the
production ministry, the report notes.

"The software law has been highly beneficial to companies in the
sector," said Jose Maria Allonca, an attorney who specializes in
trade and startups, the report relays.

Argentina's capital, which considers itself the Silicon Valley of
Latin America, boasts some of the region's most successful tech
companies including Globant and Despegar, the report notes.
Buenos Aires is also home to many of Latin America's top computer
programmers, the report discloses.  Government officials,
including Mr. Macri, are eager to promote the tech and startup
culture that has taken hold of the city, the report notes.

"It's not pleasant for a company to receive this kind of news,"
said Mr. Allonca, who says his firm has helped 10 companies begin
operations in Argentina over the past year, the report notes.
"Regardless of who is right in this case, more companies are
showing interest in investing in Argentina, and this law will
continue to benefit software companies and help them export
services," Mr. Allonca added.

CITY OF BUENOS AIRES: S&P Rates $1.5BB Local Currency Notes 'B+'
S&P Global Ratings assigned its 'B+' issue-level rating on the
city of Buenos Aires senior unsecured local currency notes program
for up to the equivalent of $1.5 billion. The city does not expect
to issue the totality of the amount together. The amortizing notes
will be denominated in Argentine pesos and the proceeds of the
bond issuance will be used to improve the city's debt maturity
profile and for refinancing its debt, including the repurchase of
the city's eligible notes from the Programa de Financiamiento en
el Mercado Local. This includes: Notes Clase 3, with an original
nominal value of $100 million due march 2018; Notes Clase 4, with
an original nominal value of $327 Million, due May 2019; Notes
Clase 5, with an original nominal value of $113 million due
December 2019; Notes Clase 6, with an original nominal value of
$147 million due January 2020; Notes Clase 14, with an original
nominal value of argentine peso (ARP) 100 Million due January
2018; Notes Clase 15, with an original nominal value of ARP262
million; Notes Clase 16, with an original nominal value of ARP948
due February 2020; Notes Clase 18, with an original nominal value
of ARP1,705 million, due May 2020; and Notes Clase 19, with an
original nominal value of ARP1,378 million due July 2018.

S&P said, "We do not view this additional debt as harmful to the
city's financial profile. From the authorized amount, only $500
million could be new debt, the proceeds of which will be used for
2018 debt amortizations. The bulk of the proposed issuance will be
used to repurchase the mentioned notes. We expect the city's debt
stock to reach around ARP 61,160 million as of year-end 2017, or
nearly 39% of its operating revenues. At the same time, this
issuance will slightly decrease the vulnerability to exchange rate
risk. As of June 30, 2017, the city's debt reached nearly
ARP56,586 million, 63%  of which  was denominated in foreign

"The 'B+' ratings on the city of Buenos Aires are one notch below
its 'bb-' stand-alone credit profile (SACP). The SACP is not a
rating, but rather a means of assessing the intrinsic
creditworthiness of an LRG under the assumption that there is no
sovereign rating cap. The SACP results from a combination of our
assessment of its individual credit profile and the institutional
framework in which it operates. The city of Buenos Aires, like all
local and regional governments (LRGs) in Argentina, operates under
a very volatile and underfunded institutional framework. However,
we believe that there is a positive trend in the predictability of
the outcome of potential reforms and pace of implementation. At
the same time, Buenos Aires has shown unique fiscal strengths
during the past few years, as well as the highest GDP per capita
in Argentina. The city has consistently posted operating surpluses
that are likely to be maintained in the next couple of years. This
track record has allowed the city to have consistently higher
capital expenditures (capex) than its domestic peers.

"The stable outlook on Buenos Aires mirrors the stable outlook on
the sovereign local currency rating. The stable outlook
incorporates our expectation that Argentina's government will have
greater political capacity to continue pursuing its economic
agenda, resulting in a more predictable economic policy and,
gradually, more institutional and governance effectiveness during
the next 12 to 18 months. Given that we don't believe the city
meets the conditions to be rated above than the sovereign, we
could only raise the ratings on the city of Buenos Aires if we
were to raise the sovereign local and foreign currency ratings.
Conversely, we would lower the ratings on the city within the next
two years if we downgrade Argentina."

  City of Buenos Aires
   Issuer Credit Rating
    Global Scale                    B+/Stable/B+
    National Scale                  raAA/Stable/--

  New Rating
   City of Buenos Aires
    Senior Unsec. Up-To $1.5bil.    B+


RIO PARANAPANEMA: S&P Raises CCR to 'BB+'; Outlook Still Negative
S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term corporate credit ratings
on Rio Paranapanema Energia S.A. (Rio Paranapanema) to 'BB+' from
'BB' on the global scale and to 'brAAA' from 'brAA-' on the Brazil
national scale. The outlook remains negative. At the same time,
S&P upwardly revised the company's stand-alone credit profile
(SACP) to 'bbb+' from 'bbb'.

S&P said, "Our upgrade of Rio Paranapanema reflects our view that
the company has been able to reduce its indebtedness, and we
expect it to maintain debt to EBITDA around 1.0x and FFO to debt
above 60%. In addition, the company has refinanced the bulk of its
debt maturities, extending its debt amortization profile. In the
context of additional financial flexibility, we tested Rio
Paranapanema's ability to service its debt even during a sovereign
default scenario. The company passed, and therefore may be rated
above our sovereign foreign currency rating on Brazil (Federative
Republic of) (GS: BB/Negative/B, NS: brAA-/Negative/--).

"The one-notch limitation above the sovereign reflects that all
the company's assets and revenue flows come solely from Brazil,
although its power selling agreements are mostly in the free
market, which we believe are less subject to regulatory or
government intervention. We also believe that Rio Paranapanema has
a diversified portfolio of clients, and that some of them are
export-oriented and so less exposed to the Brazilian economy."


BOLIVIA: To Rebuild Mairana-Bermejo Road with 64MM-IDB Support
A $64 million loan will help improve quality and traffic
conditions, accessibility and safety of key road in the Santa Cruz
Department, benefiting in particular Florida Province farmlands.

Bolivia will continue to improve its road network, focusing on
enhancing connectivity of its productive centers with national and
international markets, by rebuilding and improving the Mairana-
Bermejo segment with financing from the Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB).

The project will include paving, slope stabilization, platform
recovery and improvement, as well as traffic lane enhancements in
20 percent of the 58.2 km-long tranche, providing a significant
advance to the country's Fundamental Road Network.

The roadworks will reduce vehicle operation costs as well as
travel time and increase average daily traffic by 438 vehicles by
2020 and by 2,265 units by 2038.  Some 52 percent of traffic is
expected to be freight and public transport (buses) vehicles.

Some of the features intended to help achieve high-quality service
and enhanced safety standards include speed reduction devices in
urban areas and near educational facilities.  Other features will
comprise strategies to boost climate change resilience of the
infrastructure, as well as conservation arrangements that include
multi-year contracts to ensure investment sustainability.

Overall, the project will contribute to increase Bolivia's road
transportation reliability and predictability and boost the
competitiveness of its productive sector.

The IDB lending includes $54.4 million from the Bank's ordinary
capital, with a 22-year term, a 6.5-year grace period, and LIBOR-
based interest rate; and a $9.6 million concessional loan for a
40-year term, with 40 years of grace and 0.25 percent interest.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Aug. 3, 2017, Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook on
Bolivia's issuer and senior unsecured bond ratings to stable from
negative, and has affirmed the ratings at Ba3.

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Approves US$17BB Budget Amid Protest
Dominican Today reports that after three hours of heated debates
and some surprises, the Chamber of Deputies approved the 2018
Budget of RD$816.6 billion (US$17.0 billion).

President Danilo Medina is expected to sign it into law, according
to Dominican Today.

The piece passed with the vote of 114 of the ruling party and pro-
government lawmakers, as the opposition deputies abstained and
abandoned the chamber to protest some of the allocations, the
report notes.

Deputy Alfredo Pacheco, minority leader of the opposition PRM
party, walked out of the session, complaining that the bill for
the Budget was "plagued of inaccuracies" and reflected a "lack of
work," the report relays.

                         Pro and Cons

The reactions from opposition deputies: Fidel Santana's "the
Budget doesn't improve security," Maximo Castro's "the Government
has progressively entered indebtedness," and Pedro Botell's shout
of "abusive," to ruling party lawmaker Radhames Camacho's "it's a
piece full of hopes," the report relays.

As reported in Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on July 24,
2017, Moody's Investors Service upgraded the Dominican Republic's
long term issuer and debt ratings to Ba3 from B1 and changed the
outlook to stable from positive, based on the following key

(1) The Dominican Republic's continued robust growth outlook
     compared to rating peers, coupled with a reduction in
     external risks as current account deficits have declined and
     international reserves have increased.

(2) The reduction in fiscal deficits over the last four years and
     Moody's expectation that fiscal deficits will remain shy of
     3% of GDP, supported by fiscal restraint and reduced
     transfers to the electricity sector.


MICHOACAN: Looks to Learn From China's Special Economic Zones
EFE News reports that a high-level delegation from the western
Mexican state of Michoacan paid a visit to a special economic zone
in the Chinese city of Suzhou in search of pointers for developing
the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas.

"We are very interested in knowing about this experience and in
seeing how we can learn from the steps they followed," Gov.
Silvano Aureoles said in a meeting with representatives of the
Suzhou Industrial Park, according to EFE News.

P U E R T O    R I C O

Judge Edward A. Godoy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Puerto Rico denied debtor Delmarie Fe Rivera
Fernandez's motion for reconsideration.

On April 5, 2017, the debtor filed a voluntary petition for relief
under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The debtor included in
schedule A/B a commercial property in San Juan, Puerto Rico,
valued at $900,000.

On April 20, 2017, Banco Santander Puerto Rico filed a motion to
lift stay. The bank asserted that it is the owner of the San Juan
property, having completed pre-petition foreclosure proceedings.
Santander sought an order from the court lifting the stay in order
to allow eviction proceedings to continue. In her opposition, the
debtor conceded that a deed of judicial sale was executed on
August 17, 2016, but argued that title to the property did not
transfer to the bank at that time due to a procedural defect
during the foreclosure process, namely that the bank did not
obtain an order confirming the judicial sale from the local court,
as required by the Puerto Rico Real Estate Registry Act of 2015.
The court was not persuaded by the debtor's argument and ruled
against the Debtor at a hearing held on May 19, 2017.

In her motion for reconsideration filed on June 2, 2017, the
debtor reiterates her prior argument that the deed of judicial
sale did not serve to transfer title to Banco Santander because
the bank never obtained an order confirming the judicial sale from
the local court. It is well settled that under Rule 51.7(d) of the
Puerto Rico Rules of Civil Procedure of 2009, title to a property
is transferred upon the execution of the deed of judicial sale.
The debtor argues, however, that the Registry Act "tacitly"
repealed this rule by adding the requirement that following a
judicial sale, the local court must, at a party's request, verify
that the correct procedures were followed and issue an order so
stating within 10 days.

At the outset, the court already considered and rejected this
argument at the May 19 hearing. The motion for reconsideration is
therefore denied on this basis. Furthermore, as explained during
the said hearing, the Registry Act, as amended, makes clear that
the confirmation order is not required to execute the deed of
judicial sale.

Accordingly, absent a showing of manifest error by this court,
newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence, manifest
injustice, or an intervening change in controlling law that
warrants reconsideration, the motion for reconsideration is

A full-text copy of Judge Godoy's Opinion and Order dated Nov. 8,
2017, is available at:

Delmarie F. Rivera Fernandez filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection (Bankr. D.P.R. Case No. 17-02396) on April 5, 2017, and
is represented by Gilbert Joseph Lopez Delgado, Esq.

HALAIS GROUP: Court Refuses to Stay Financing Order Pending Appeal
Judge Mildred Caban Flores of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Puerto Rico denied Swift Capital Corporation's motion
for stay pending appeal.

Swift asks the court to stay the order entered on August 16, 2017,
granting Halais' motion for postpetition financing. Subsequently,
Swift moved the court to reconsider its approval of the Debtor's
post-petition financing. Swift stated that it did not object to
the post-petition financing but did not want the new creditor to
have a first ranking lien over Debtor's accounts receivable. The
court denied the reconsideration because Swift's objection was

The Court finds that Swift is unlikely to prevail on the merits of
its appeal because it failed to timely object to the post-petition
financing motion after receiving proper notice of the time period
to object. Swift waited until after Parliament's urgent motion for
entry of order and writ to raise an objection to the post-petition
financing. At this juncture it appears that a stay of the order
granting post-petition financing could be moot because the order
and writ may have been presented to the registrar at the Puerto
Rico Department of State.

Insomuch as Swift failed to meet the burden of demonstrating
likelihood of success on the merits, the court need not entertain
other factors to consider the stay of this court's order pending
appeal. The court denies Swift's request for a stay of the order
granting Debtor's post-petition financing.

A full-text copy of Judge Flores' Opinion and Order dated Nov. 8,
2017, is available at:

                     About Halais Group

Headquartered in Caguas, Puerto Rico, Halais Group, Inc., d/b/a
Monte Calvario, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (Bankr.
D. P.R. Case No. 16-01361) on Feb. 24, 2016, estimating its assets
at between $500,000 and $1 million and its liabilities at between
$1 million and $10 million.  The petition was signed by Raymond
Halais, president, authorized representative of Halais.

Judge Mildred Caban Flores presides over the case.

Carlos A Ruiz Rodriguez, Esq., at Carlos Alberto Ruiz Law Office,
CSP, serves as the Debtor's bankruptcy counsel.


PETROLEOS DE VENEZUELA: S&P Cuts CCR to SD on Missed Payment
S&P Global Ratings lowered its corporate credit rating on
Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) to 'SD' from 'CC'. At the same
time, S&P lowered its issue-level ratings on the company's senior
unsecured notes due 2027 and 2037 to 'D' from 'CC'.

S&P understands that PDVSA has not been able to meet the coupon
payments on its 2027 and 2037 notes within its 30 calendar day
grace period (or the bond holders had not received the funds by
that date), constituting an event of default under its
methodology.  (please see "Methodology: Timeliness of Payments:
Grace Periods, Guarantees, And Use of 'D' And 'SD' Ratings,"
published Oct. 24, 2013)."

Since October 2017, PDVSA has been using its stated 30-day
interest payment grace period in an effort to garner enough U.S.
dollars to meet its debt maturities. Given PDVSA's current
sanctions and its already pressured liquidity position, S&P is
uncertain about the company's ability to pay the rest of its debt
maturities within the grace period.

Additionally, the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro announced
the formation of a government commission to restructure the
sovereign's and PDVSA's external debt obligations. Given the
highly constrained external liquidity situation for the sovereign
and domestic entities, S&P would consider any restructuring of
PDVSA's debt to be a distressed debt exchange and equivalent to
default (please see "Rating Implications Of Exchange Offers And
Similar Restructurings, Update," published May 12, 2009).

VENEZUELA: Signs Deal on $3.15 Billion Restructuring With Russia
Anna Andrianova and Natasha Doff at Bloomberg News report that
Russia signed an agreement to restructure $3.15 billion of debt
owed by Venezuela, throwing a lifeline to a crisis-wracked ally
that's struggling to repay creditors.

The pact gives Venezuela some much-needed breathing room as it
faces the much more complicated task of restructuring its $140
billion of bonds and foreign loans, according to Bloomberg News.
For Russia, the deal underscores the costs that come with
President Vladimir Putin's geopolitical ambitions across the
globe, Bloomberg News notes.  A $900 million hole had been left in
its 2017 budget plan by Venezuela's failure to pay on time,
Bloomberg News relays.  As China has seen scaling back its
presence in the oil-rich country, Russia has been standing by its
old ally, raising concern in some circles in Washington, Bloomberg
News discloses.

The deal spreads the loan payments out over a decade, with
"minimal" payments over the first six years, the Russian Finance
Ministry said in a statement, Bloomberg News relays.  The pact
doesn't cover obligations of state oil company Petroleos de
Venezuela SA to its Russian counterpart Rosneft PJSC, however,
Bloomberg News notes.

"The terms are flexible and very favorable for our country,"
Wilmar Castro Soteldo, Venezuela's economic vice president, told
reporters in Moscow after the signing, Bloomberg News discloses.
"We will be able to return to the level of commercial relations
with Russia that we had before," he added, noting that a deal to
buy Russian wheat will be signed, Bloomberg News adds.

This is the second time Russia reschedules Venezuela's debt
payments after agreeing to an extension last year, Bloomberg News
relays.  Still, Caracas failed to make payments amid an economic
crisis triggered by low prices for oil, a major export, Bloomberg
News notes.  Rosneft has also provided several billion dollars in
advance payments for Venezuelan crude supplies, Bloomberg News

The rescheduling pact is a "demonstration of the desire to
maintain ties with the current Venezuelan leadership," Viktor
Kheifets, an expert in Venezuela at St. Petersburg State
University, said by phone, Bloomberg News relays.  "Russia isn't
happy with everything that the government there is doing but
Venezuela is an ally where Russia has economic interests and
Moscow is firmly against a forcible change of regime there,"
Bloomberg News notes.

In a website statement announcing the deal, Russia's Finance
Ministry said, "The debt relief provided to the republic from the
restructuring of its liabilities will allow funds to be allocated
for the country's economic development, to improve the debtor's
solvency and increase the chances of all creditors to recoup loans
granted earlier to Venezuela," Bloomberg News discloses

But an attempt to hold talks with creditors faltered this week.

President Nicolas Maduro had summoned holders of some $60 billion
of bonds issued by the government and PDVSA to begin a
renegotiation as the nation's cash crunch worsens, sanctions make
it difficult to transfer money and delayed payments pile up,
Bloomberg News relays.

Central bank reserves have fallen to a 15-year low and oil output
has sunk to the lowest since 1989, Bloomberg News notes.  Over the
weekend, the grace period on $280 million in bond payments
expired, and Fitch Ratings declared PDVSA in default, followed by
a similar announcement made by S&P Global Ratings on the
government, Bloomberg News notes.

Venezuela's debts to Russia are governed by the Paris Club, a
group of creditors that handles loans to governments, putting them
in a separate category from the bonds the Latin American country
is seeking to renegotiate with private creditors, Bloomberg News

Eloy Torres, a professor of international relations at Santa Maria
University in Caracas and a former diplomat in Russia says the
agreement should not be seen as a framework for a permanent
solution to Venezuela's financial woes, Bloomberg News discloses.

"This allows (Venezuela) to breath but it only kicks the can down
the road," he said.  "I can't see a scenario where the Russians
would be eager to repeat this," he added, notes the report.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 16, 2017, On Nov. 13, 2017, S&P Global Ratings lowered its
long- and short-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings on
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to 'SD/D' from 'CC/C'. The
long- and short-term local currency sovereign credit ratings
remain at 'CCC-/C' and are still on CreditWatch with negative
implications. S&P said,

"At the same time, we lowered our issue ratings on Venezuela's
global bonds due 2019 and 2024 to 'D' from 'CC'. Our issue ratings
on the remainder of Venezuela's foreign currency senior unsecured
debt remain at 'CC'. Finally, we affirmed our transfer and
convertibility assessment on the sovereign at 'CC'."

VENEZUELA: China Makes No Offer of Debt Relief
Tampa Bay Times reports that China made no offer of debt relief to
Venezuela, but said it was confident the country can deal with the

The statement from the foreign ministry came a day after Russia
and Venezuela signed a deal in Moscow that envisages Venezuela
will pay its $3.15 billion debt to Russia over 10 years, according
to Tampa Bay Times.  Venezuela, by comparison, owes China $23
billion, the report notes.

"We believe that the Venezuelan government and people are capable
of properly handling the debt issue," ministry spokesman Geng
Shuang said, the report relays.

"We hope the relevant parties can resolve the issue through
consultation. At present, the China-Venezuela financing
cooperation is carried on as usual," he said, the report

The Russian Finance Ministry said that under the deal, Venezuela's
payments will be "minimal" during the first six years, the report
says.  The agreement will allow Venezuela to allocate more funds
for economic development, the Russian ministry said, the report

Under late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the country used its
oil wealth to spend heavily on social programs, the report relays.
The economy has been ravaged by the drop in global oil prices,
with widespread shortages amid triple-digit inflation sparking
major social unrest, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 16, 2017, On Nov. 13, 2017, S&P Global Ratings lowered its
long- and short-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings on
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to 'SD/D' from 'CC/C'. The
long- and short-term local currency sovereign credit ratings
remain at 'CCC-/C' and are still on CreditWatch with negative
implications. S&P said,

"At the same time, we lowered our issue ratings on Venezuela's
global bonds due 2019 and 2024 to 'D' from 'CC'. Our issue ratings
on the remainder of Venezuela's foreign currency senior unsecured
debt remain at 'CC'. Finally, we affirmed our transfer and
convertibility assessment on the sovereign at 'CC'."

VENEZUELA: Officials Offer Few Details During Restructuring Talks
By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Julie Wernau at The Wall Street Journal
report that scores of international creditors flew in to Caracas,
the crime-ridden capital, for a meeting with Venezuela's
government to discuss how the country might avoid a messy default
on more than $60 billion in bonds.

They walked away with precious few details and a box of
chocolates, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Several investors who attended the hastily arranged meeting at the
Presidential Palace in Caracas said they were treated to a half-
hour monologue expounding the country's valiant efforts to keep
paying from Venezuela's Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who is
blacklisted by the U.S. for alleged drug trafficking, the report

Mr. El Aissami's speech over, investors were given boxes of
Venezuelan chocolates and escorted out of the building, according
to two participants in the meeting, the report notes.

"They didn't even allow questions," said one investor after
leaving the meeting, the report notes.  "They gave no details on
their plans and no future meeting dates," he added.

In a statement, the government called the meeting "highly
promising" and said it served to begin the process of refinancing
the country's debt, the report relays.  The statement offered no
details on how and when the refinancing would take place, the
report adds.  In the meantime, Venezuela would continue servicing
its debt, the statement said.

The meeting came amid growing concern Venezuela is careening
toward a full-blown default on its debt, which includes some $60
billion in bonds but could tally up to $150 billion in total
obligations if other debts are added in, making it the biggest
default in history, the report relays.

The cash-strapped country, which is enduring its biggest economic
decline since independence, has said it will continue paying its
debts, but it has also said it wants to restructure, raising
doubts about both its willingness and ability to pay, the report

The meeting came the same day as a deadline to pay almost $300
million of late-interest payments on several bonds, including
several sovereign bonds and one from state oil firm Petroleos de
Venezuela SA, the report says.

The government failed to make payment on time for a small bond
issued by a state electrical company, the report relays.

Separately, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association
decided to reconvene on a decision about whether investors in the
credit default swap market should be paid after Venezuela's state
oil company was late in making a payment for a maturing bond due
Nov. 2, the report notes.

Most major investment funds skipped the meeting with President
Nicolas Maduro's restructuring commission, the report relays.
Some said they were concerned with the sanctions against Mr. El
Aissami -- sanctions which make it illegal to conduct business
with him, the report relates.  Others said that the meeting would
be a waste of time, the report notes.

Mr. El Aissami read a statement about how U.S. sanctions had made
it difficult for the government to pay its debts on time, without
clarifying whether it would continue to make payments going
forward, according to the people who said they attended, the
report relays.

"He said that this is all part of an initiative by the U.S. to
overthrow the government," one attendee said, the report notes.

The Venezuelan government and its state oil company have hired two
prominent U.S.-based restructuring firms in the lead up to a
stated plan to restructure approximately $150 billion in debt, the
report says.

The government has retained Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, based in
Washington D.C., and Petroleos de Venezuela SA has retained Hogan
Lovells, a large global law firm that has advised PdVSA on other
matters in U.S. courts, according to Venezuelan officials and a
person familiar with the hires, notes the report.

Both firms would not comment on the hires, the report relays.

On his weekly television show, Mr. Maduro said 414 investors had
confirmed their participation for the meeting, which he said
accounted for more than 90% of the country's creditors, the report

"Venezuela will never get to a default," Mr. Maduro said, the
report relays.

Any restructuring deal is hampered by the U.S. Treasury's ban on
American financial institutions dealing with any new Venezuelan
debt, the report discloses.  However, the Treasury said it would
consider making an exception for any new securities issued by the
Venezuelan government to restructure its debt, as long as the plan
is approved by the opposition-controlled congress, the report
relays.  A spokesperson for the U.S. Treasury didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 16, 2017, On Nov. 13, 2017, S&P Global Ratings lowered its
long- and short-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings on
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to 'SD/D' from 'CC/C'. The
long- and short-term local currency sovereign credit ratings
remain at 'CCC-/C' and are still on CreditWatch with negative
implications. S&P said,

"At the same time, we lowered our issue ratings on Venezuela's
global bonds due 2019 and 2024 to 'D' from 'CC'. Our issue ratings
on the remainder of Venezuela's foreign currency senior unsecured
debt remain at 'CC'. Finally, we affirmed our transfer and
convertibility assessment on the sovereign at 'CC'."


Monday's edition of the TCR-LA delivers a list of indicative
prices for bond issues that reportedly trade well below par.
Prices are obtained by TCR-LA editors from a variety of outside
sources during the prior week we think are reliable.   Those
sources may not, however, be complete or accurate.  The Monday
Bond Pricing table is compiled on the Friday prior to publication.
Prices reported are not intended to reflect actual trades.  Prices
for actual trades are probably different.  Our objective is to
share information, not make markets in publicly traded securities.
Nothing in the TCR-LA constitutes an offer or solicitation to buy
or sell any security of any kind.  It is likely that some entity
affiliated with a TCR-LA editor holds some position in the
issuers' public debt and equity securities about which we report.

Tuesday's edition of the TCR-LA features a list of companies with
insolvent balance sheets obtained by our editors based on the
latest balance sheets publicly available a day prior to
publication.  At first glance, this list may look like the
definitive compilation of stocks that are ideal to sell short.
Don't be fooled.  Assets, for example, reported at historical cost
net of depreciation may understate the true value of a firm's
assets.  A company may establish reserves on its balance sheet for
liabilities that may never materialize.  The prices at which
equity securities trade in public market are determined by more
than a balance sheet solvency test.

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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., Washington, D.C.,
USA, Marites O. Claro, Joy A. Agravante, Rousel Elaine T.
Fernandez, Julie Anne L. Toledo, Ivy B. Magdadaro, and Peter A.
Chapman, Editors.

Copyright 2017.  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 US$775 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 US$25 each.  For subscription information,
contact Peter A. Chapman at 215-945-7000 or Joseph Cardillo at

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