TCRLA_Public/180119.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, January 19, 2018, Vol. 19, No. 14



PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Transfers Rights on 2 Concessions to Total
LAUREATE EDUCATION: S&P Hikes Sr. Secured Credit Ratings to 'B+'
JBS SA: Pinnacle Asset to Acquire Unit's 5 Rivers Cattle Feeding

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Tax Director Warns of Sectors of Tax Evasion
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Needs a Wider Tax Base, World Bank Says
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: US Litigation Compounds Energy Woes


ECUADOR: Makes 3.6MM Barrels of Oil Available in Spot Sale


GRENADA: To Be Removed From EU Tax Haven List

P U E R T O    R I C O

MCO INDUSTRIES: Plan and Disclosures Hearing Set for Feb. 9

T R I N I D A D  &  T O B A G O

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Poverty Pretenders Prevail in the Country

                            - - - - -


PETROLEO BRASILEIRO: Transfers Rights on 2 Concessions to Total
EFE News reports that Brazilian state oil company Petroleo
Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) said it had completed two transactions
involving the transfer of rights to two deepwater concessions in
the Atlantic Ocean to French oil major Total.

"Petrobras and Total announce that they have finalized a decisive
milestone in the realization of their Strategic Alliance, signed
in March 2017," the companies said in a joint press release,
according to EFE News.

Both concessions are located in Brazil's offshore Santos Basin and
have proven reserves in the pre-salt region, a recently discovered
oil frontier located below thick layers of rocks and salt under
the sea bed that, if successfully developed, could transform
Brazil into one of the world's largest crude exporters, the report

In the first transaction, Petrobras transferred 35 percent of the
rights and operatorship of the Lapa field in Block BM-S-9A, in
which Total now has a 35 percent stake, Royal Dutch Shell has 30
percent, Spanish-Chinese joint venture Repsol-Sinopec has 25
percent and Petrobras has 10 percent, the report relays.

The report notes that the field was brought into production in
late 2016 by a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO)
unit with a 100,000-barrel-per-day capacity.

In the second transaction, Petrobras transferred to Total a 22.5
percent stake in the Iara area, which comprises the Sururu,
Berbigao and Oeste de Atapu fields in Block BM-S-11A, the report

Petrobras remains the operator of that block with a 42.5 percent
stake, while Shell has 25 percent and Portugal's Galp Energia has
10 percent, the report relays.

Production in Iara is expected to start in 2018 at the Berbigao
and Sururu fields once an FPSO with a production capacity of
150,000 barrels per day begins operating, the report relays.

Petrobras will receive $1.95 billion from Total for the rights to
those stakes, the report notes.

"This amount does not include $400 million that can be triggered
by Petrobras to carry a part of its investment share in the Iara
development fields and contingent payments," the Brazilian company
said, the report relays.

Asset sales are one of the tools Petrobras plans to use to become
leaner and adjust to a more adverse scenario brought about by a
drop in global oil prices in recent years and to the company's
lower revenue and severe financial problems, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Feb. 14, 2017, S&P Global Ratings raised its global scale ratings
on Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) to 'BB-' from 'B+',
including its corporate credit rating and the ratings on the
senior unsecured notes issued through the company's financing
vehicles (Petrobras International Finance Co. and Petrobras Global
Finance B.V.).

LAUREATE EDUCATION: S&P Hikes Sr. Secured Credit Ratings to 'B+'
S&P Global Ratings raised its issue-level rating on Laureate
Education Inc.'s senior secured credit facility to 'B+' from 'B'
and revised the recovery rating to '2' from '3'. The '2' recovery
rating indicates S&P's expectation for substantial recovery
(70%-90%; rounded estimate: 75%) in the event of a payment

The upgrade follows the company's repayment of $350 million of the
term loan borrowings primarily from assets sale proceeds. The
issue-rating upgrade reflects lower outstanding secured debt under
S&P's simulated default scenario and higher recovery prospects for
secured lenders.

S&P's recovery valuation assumes the company would be valued at a
6x EBITDA multiple, with almost 70% of its estimated $2.5 billion
recovery value located at nonguarantor foreign subsidiaries. Pro
forma for the debt repayment, as of Sept. 30, 2017, the company's
senior secured credit facility comprised a $385 million revolving
credit facility due 2022 and $1.238 billion outstanding on its
$1.6 billion term loan due 2024.

S&P said, "Our 'B' corporate credit rating and stable rating
outlook on Laureate, and our 'B-' issue-level and '5' recovery
ratings on the company's $800 million senior unsecured debt, are
unchanged. The '5' recovery rating reflects our expectations for
modest (10%-30%; rounded estimate: 15%) recovery in the event of a
payment default scenario. The stable outlook reflects our
expectation that Laureate will continue to grow its revenues in
the low- to mid-single-digit percentage range, maintain adequate
liquidity, and lower its lease-adjusted debt leverage to the mid-
to high-5x range in 2017 and to the high-4x area in 2018. We also
expect that Laureate's free operating cash flow (FOCF) to debt
will improve to the 5% area by year-end 2018. Our leverage
calculations treat the company's preferred stock as debt."

Laureate primarily provides undergraduate and graduate courses
through more than 60 institutions globally. It recently announced
asset sales in China, Malaysia, Italy, Cyprus, and Morocco, with
plans to use a portion of the sale proceeds to repay debt. S&P
views Laureate's debt repayment as credit positive but leverage
remains high. However, S&P recognizes that Laureate and the
preferred stockholders will have the option to convert the
preferred equity to common equity in early 2018, which could
moderate the company's leverage to the mid-4x area in 2018.

Laureate's significant debt funding costs and high growth capital
spending levels have historically resulted in limited FOCF.
Furthermore, Laureate's credit measures are exposed to volatility
in exchange rates and country risk because the company generates
roughly three-quarters of its EBITDA outside the U.S.

An upgrade would be contingent on Laureate maintaining stable
operating performance with organic revenue growth in addition to
the company adopting a less aggressive financial policy such that
lease-adjusted leverage declines to low-4x levels and FOCF to debt
improves to the high-single-digit percentage range. Reduced
dependence on foreign currency earnings to repay predominantly
U.S. dollar denominated debt would also be supportive of an

S&P could lower the corporate credit rating if it expects that
Laureate's lease-adjusted leverage would increase to over 6x or if
it generates FOCF below $50 million on a sustained basis. A
tightening of the company's covenant cushion to below 15% could
also result in a downgrade. This scenario could occur if Laureate
faces significant adverse currency movements, or an economic
downturn in Mexico, Brazil, or Chile result in material reduction
in student enrollments.

  Laureate Education Inc.
   Corporate Credit Rating         B/Stable/--

  Issue-level Ratings Raised; Recovery Ratings Revised
                                           To         From
  Laureate Education Inc.
   Senior Secured                          B+         B
    Recovery Rating                        2(75%)     3(65%)

  Rating Affirmed; Recovery Rating Unchanged
   Senior Unsecured                        B-
    Recovery Rating                        5(15%)

JBS SA: Pinnacle Asset to Acquire Unit's 5 Rivers Cattle Feeding
Affiliates of Pinnacle Asset Management, L.P., a leading
commodities and natural resources investment firm, disclosed that
they have entered into an agreement to acquire the U.S.-based
cattle feeding assets and farms, collectively known as Five Rivers
Cattle Feeding, from JBS USA, a leading global food company, for
approximately US$200 million.

Five Rivers Cattle Feeding is the largest cattle feeding operation
in the world, with roots in the U.S. dating back to the 1920s. The
transaction includes 11 feed yards across Arizona, Colorado,
Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with feeding capacity of more
than 900,000 head of cattle, and a long-term agreement to supply
cattle to JBS USA beef processing plants. The current Five Rivers
management team will remain in place, led by president and CEO
Mike Thoren, to ensure business continuity and build upon Five
Rivers' strong track record of innovation and stewardship.

"The sale of the Five Rivers Cattle Feeding assets and farms is a
strategic move that will allow JBS USA to more efficiently deploy
working capital and focus on the company's core food and value-
added products businesses," said Andre Nogueira, CEO of JBS
USA."The transaction concludes the Divestment Program previously
announced and unanimously approved by the JBS S.A. board of
directors, and more favorably positions the company for future
opportunities. The long-term partnership with Pinnacle will ensure
JBS USA's continued ability to produce high-quality beef products,
including natural, certified humane, raised without antibiotics,
source-verified and traditional products, enjoyed by customers and
consumers around the world."

"The acquisition of the largest and most respected cattle feeding
operation in the world continues Pinnacle's strategic path of
investment and development of our diversified, global, physical
commodity platform, of which livestock is a critical sector," said
Jason M. Kellman, managing partner and Chief Investment Officer of
Pinnacle Asset Management.  "We are excited to work closely with
our operating partner, Arcadia Asset Management and strategic
partner, Ospraie Management to support Five Rivers' talented
management team."

"Ospraie is pleased to partner with Pinnacle and Arcadia on this
market-leading, commodity transaction," said Jason Mraz, president
of Ospraie Management, who is a strategic partner to Pinnacle on
this transaction."We have a long history of working together and
have great respect for both partners' expertise in physical

"We are excited to combine Arcadia's livestock marketing and risk
management experience with the first-class management team at Five
Rivers," said Jordan Levi, managing member of Arcadia Asset
Management, LLC.  "We believe that the complementary strengths of
Pinnacle, Arcadia, Ospraie and Five Rivers will create significant
value. We look forward to continuing the legacy of best-in-class
production, livestock care and animal welfare, and environmental
stewardship established by the more than 600 skilled professionals
who comprise the Five Rivers Cattle Feeding team."

An orderly sales process will be conducted to ensure normal
business operations during the transition.  JBS Five Rivers will
continue to operate as usual, including the purchasing of cattle
and commodities in the ordinary course of business, until the
closure of the transaction. In addition, JBS USA will continue
agreements to purchase cattle from feed yards associated with Five
Rivers Cattle Feeding operations.

Completion of the acquisition is subject to U.S. regulatory review
and approval, approval from the JBS S.A. Board of Directors and
Pinnacle Asset Management, L.P., securing the relevant funding.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on Nov.
22, 2017, Fitch Ratings has downgraded JBS S.A.'s Long-term
Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs). The
senior unsecured notes guaranteed by JBS S.A. were downgraded to
'BB-' from 'BB.'

D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Tax Director Warns of Sectors of Tax Evasion
Dominican Today reports that Internal Taxes Director Magin Diaz
urged productive sectors and individuals to be apprised of Law
155-17, on money laundering and terrorism financing, and to "be
very careful with evasion," because a key issue lies in
identifying the final beneficiaries.

"It's necessary to understand that the world has changed and that
the country is being evaluated by international organizations on
money laundering and the sanctions are very drastic," the official
in a gathering hosted by the Dominican Merchants Federation
(Cadeco) held in a local hotel, according to Dominican Today.

"That's why the Government embarked on this new law on laundering
and the preparation of various institutions," he said, and
stressed that the country has made significant progress and that
the first results will be announced in six months, the report

Accompanied by retail mogul Jose Luis (Pepin) Corripio who
delivered a speech on employment, Diaz revealed that the law now
guarantees banking access to the DGII without a court order.
"Before, a process had to be exhausted, but now the modification
of the Securities Market Law breaks that barrier of bank secrecy,"
the report relays.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 20, 2017, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Dominican Republic's
Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-'
with a Stable Outlook.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Needs a Wider Tax Base, World Bank Says
Dominican Today reports that the World Bank released a new report
which identifies the ways Dominican Republic's tax system can
become more efficient, to increase revenue, and promote inclusive
growth and competitiveness.

Among other points, the report lists the type of efficiency
targets, such as the number of goods and services that pay ITBIS
tax, being a uniform charge, and especially consumption, which in
its view requires the highest level of efficiency, according to
Dominican Today.

To achieve higher efficiency on ITBIS, the report says, Dominican
Republic would have to raise collection on more products and
services that are now ITBIS-free, the report notes.

"Despite the solid growth trajectory, the indicators of poverty
and inequality in the Dominican Republic remain relatively high,
the report relays.  In view of the Fiscal Pact foreseen in the
National Development Strategy Act 2030, this diagnostic evaluates
options to improve fiscal efficiency and increase revenues," said
World Bank representative Alessandro Legrottaglie, the report

"Options include better policies to increase revenue, better
targeting of tax expenditures to benefit the poorest and an
increase in the tax base by reducing informality," he said in the
meeting in which the heads of the Finance and Economy ministries
participated, the report notes.

                     Highest Tax Spending

World Bank senior economist Gianluca Mele, whose presentation
revealed that Dominican Republic has the region's highest tax
expenditure in recent years, affirmed that there's room to improve
the fairness of the exemptions, the report relays.

"If the level of ITBIS efficiency of the Dominican Republic was to
reach the level of the region's average efficiency, it would lead
to a revenue increase of 2.8% of GDP," Mr. Mele said when
presenting the study "Towards A More Efficient Tax System," the
report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 20, 2017, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Dominican Republic's
Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-'
with a Stable Outlook.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: US Litigation Compounds Energy Woes
Dominican Today reports that the Dominican Republic disclosed that
it is preparing a call for tenders for new power plants, to
guarantee the country's long-term energy supply.

The announcement comes just two years after the government
discarded offers by at least two US-based companies to build
natural gas-fired power plants without the need for financing
guarantees, according to Dominican Today.

State-owned Electric Utility (CDEEE) CEO Ruben Jimenez Bichara
said that each year the demand grows as much as 130 megawatts, so
they expect to conclude the bidding rules within 60 days so that
interested international companies can bid on time and see if
their power plants can be finished "at least by 2022," the report

He said energy projects on natural gas will be the priority in the
future, the report relays.


The dispute with the conglomerate Odebrecht and the CDEEE on the
former's demand of an additional US$708 million to continue
construction of the Punta Catalina power plant will be decided in
a New York court, Mr. Jimenez said, the report relays.

He said there's still no date set to start the international
arbitration, the report relays. "This is a process that is
extended and the time will come when the court will take action
and there will be arguments from both sides so that in the end a
decision can come out," Mr. Jimenez added.

                       Catalina Continues

The official reiterated that the litigation doesn't halt the
plant's completion, and affirmed it will be operational this year
as scheduled, the report relays.

"The important thing is that we can give the country a project
like that, because it's already an emergency in which it is
working for the benefit of the Dominican people," he said, the
report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
Nov. 20, 2017, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Dominican Republic's
Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-'
with a Stable Outlook.


ECUADOR: Makes 3.6MM Barrels of Oil Available in Spot Sale
EFE News reports that Ecuador has made 3.6 million barrels of
Oriente crude available in a "spot" sale, a process in which more
than 40 companies are participating, the Andean nation's
hydrocarbons minister said.

"We're carrying out the first spot sale of 2018 today. It's a
'spot' sale of 10 shipments of 360,000 barrels, or 3.6 million
barrels," Carlos Perez told reporters at state oil company
Petroecuador's headquarters in Quito, according to EFE News.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America,
Egan-Jones Ratings Company, on Oct. 12, 2017, raised the foreign
currency and local currency senior unsecured ratings on debt
issued by the Republic of Ecuador to B+ from B.  EJR also upgraded
the ratings on the Company's commercial paper to B from C.

Ecuador is a country straddling the equator on South America's
west coast.


GRENADA: To Be Removed From EU Tax Haven List
--------------------------------------------- reports that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell
says Grenada is expected to be removed from the European Union
Blacklist by the end of January.

The decision to remove Grenada, one of 17 countries blacklisted by
the EU, is expected to follow a meeting of the Financial and
Economic Unit of the OECD set for January 23, according to

On December 5, 2017, the European Union Council approved and
published conclusions containing an EU list of non-cooperative
jurisdictions in taxation matters, the report notes.

According to the Council, Grenada did not sign or ratify the OECD
Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance as
amended and did not clearly commit to addressing these issues by
December 31 this year, the report relays.

However, Prime Minister Mitchell said Grenada ought not to have
been placed on the list in the first place, since the country had
met all the conditions required, the report notes.

"On January 23, the Financial and Economic Unit of the OECD will
be meeting after the response from Grenada and of course we
pointed out the mistakes that were made," he said, the report

"Grenada is expected to be removed before the end of January from
that blacklist.  So I think we would have gone through that
process successfully," Mr. Mitchell said, the report discloses.

The Ministry of Finance had issued a statement saying Grenada made
high level commitments, complete with timelines, to the EU Code of
Conduct group by way of letters on November 17 and 28, 2017, the
report relays.

The report notes that those commitments were in response to
concerns raised by the OECD group, regarding meeting all the
criteria set up by the EU Council for Transparency and fairness in
Taxation, and was well on track to doing so.

Prime Minister Mitchell said it was accepted that the decision was
unfair, the report relays.

"But the specific case of Grenada, we had asked for some
communications sent to us so that we would move and deal with what
we are supposed to do," the Grenadian leader said, the report

"And they took a very long time to send it, so since the blacklist
came on they have sent the information and we then replied and,
like I said, before the end of the month, from indications in
correspondent received, we expect to be release from that
blacklist," he added.

The report relays that Grenada was not the only Caribbean nation
on the blacklist. There were three others: Barbados, St Lucia, and
Trinidad and Tobago.

P U E R T O    R I C O

MCO INDUSTRIES: Plan and Disclosures Hearing Set for Feb. 9
Judge Edward A. Godoy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Puerto Rico conditionally approved MCO Industries
Inc.'s small business disclosure statement, dated Jan. 4, 2018, in
support of its plan of reorganization.

Acceptances or rejections of the Plan must be filed in writing
on/or before 14 days prior to the date of the hearing on
confirmation of the Plan.

Any objection to the final approval of the Disclosure Statement
and/or the confirmation of the Plan must be filed on/or before 14
days prior to the date of the hearing on confirmation of the Plan.

A hearing for the consideration of the final approval of the
Disclosure Statement and the confirmation of the Plan will be held
on Feb. 9, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. at the United States Bankruptcy
Court, Jose V. Toledo Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse,
Southwestern Divisional Office, 300 Recinto Sur Street, San Juan,
Puerto Rico.

Under the Plan, Class 3 - General Unsecured Claims, totaling
$946,343, are impaired.  This Class will be paid 42% of their
allowed claims, plus 4.25% interest, in 60 monthly installments.
First 12 months at a rate of $3,682.42, and 48 at a rate of
$8,289.20 per month.

The Debtor's Plan will be funded with proceeds from it operations
and from the moneys recovered from the lawsuit for collection of
moneys filed against Finca Real, Inc.  The Debtor believes its
business will get a significant boost in 2018 as the demand to
repair the structures and roads damaged during the passing of
Hurricanes Irma and Maria will increase the demand for the
aggregates and sand it sells.  Sales during November 2017 exceeded
$50,000.00 and the December 2017 sales exceeded $60,000.00.
Moreover, there is a commitment from the Federal Government to
spent over a billion dollars in road repairs that will also
dramatically increase Debtor's sales during the lifespan of its
Chapter 11.

A full-text copy of the Disclosure Statement is available at:

                  About MCO Industries Inc.

MCO Industries Inc. sought protection under Chapter 11 of the
Bankruptcy Code (Bankr. D. P.R. Case No. 17-00961) on February 15,
2017.  The petition was signed by John McComas Miro, president.
The case is assigned to Judge Edward A. Godoy.

At the time of the filing, the Debtor estimated assets of less
than $500,000 and liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.

T R I N I D A D  &  T O B A G O

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: Poverty Pretenders Prevail in the Country
Trinidad Express reports that there are people in Trinidad and
Tobago who are pretending to be poor and "masquerading poverty"
and accessing social services like food cards, economist and
former chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board Dr.
Terrence Farrell has said.

"Our politicians and our public servants have to be able to
discern real need and real vulnerability from the rent-seeking
behavior of this picaroon society," Mr. Farrell urged, the report

He said while the Government had a social obligation to protect
those who are poor, in the face of the economic challenges these
persons must be clearly identified, the report adds.


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 2018.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

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