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

               Tuesday, January 30, 2018, Vol. 19, No. 21


                            Headlines



A R G E N T I N A

ARGENTINA: Seeks to Play in the International Scene
ARGENTINA: Tax Law Overhaul Positive for Corporates, Moody's Says


B A R B A D O S

BARBADOS: Prime Minister Reports Fiscal Deficit on the Decline


B R A Z I L

PARANA BANCO: S&P Affirms BB-/B Global Scale Issuer Credit Ratings
PETROBRAS GLOBAL: Moody's Assigns Ba3 Rating to New Global Notes


J A M A I C A

NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK: Posts $16.7BB Operating Income


M E X I C O

MEXICO: 2017 Trade Deficit Narrows


P U E R T O    R I C O

BEBE STORES: Neil Subin Has 9.2% Stake as of Jan. 12


T R I N I D A D  &  T O B A G O

CARIBBEAN NITROGEN: Ammonia Plant in Trinidad Shuts Down


V I R G I N   I S L A N D S

VIRGIN ISLANDS: Launches 150-day Marketing Plan


                            - - - - -


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A R G E N T I N A
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ARGENTINA: Seeks to Play in the International Scene
---------------------------------------------------
Holly Ellyatt at CNBC reports that President Mauricio Macri said
at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, that
Argentina has long been isolated from the world but is now moving
to a phase where it is in a "position to play a significant role
on the international stage."

According to the report, Mr. Macri said Argentina will be
addressing the future of work, infrastructure and food security.
"In the last two years, we put in order our economy and the
country back on track.  Argentina is on a sustainable and steady
path of inclusive growth -- every day we make decisions that drive
us towards our primary goal of reducing poverty," the report
quotes Mr. Macri as saying.

CNBC cites that Argentina's economy is undergoing a transformation
although inflation remains high.


ARGENTINA: Tax Law Overhaul Positive for Corporates, Moody's Says
-----------------------------------------------------------------
A new law overhauling Argentina's (B2, stable) tax system will
have a positive impact on the creditworthiness of domestic
corporates, while on Argentina's sovereign and provinces the
impact will shift from initially negative to positive as growth
picks up, Moody's Investors Service says in a new report. Although
the consequences for banks will be negative, they will be
contained.

"Because of the lowering of some tax rates, central government
revenue will likely decline modestly, which will make the
government's efforts to reduce the deficit more difficult.
However, Moody's expect the new tax policy to support faster
economic growth and increased investment, which will help offset
these negative effects," says Gabriel Torres, Moody's Vice
President - Senior Credit Officer.

The impact to Argentina's provinces will be similar, in that the
benefit will likely come over the longer term. Provinces may need
to take on a modest additional amount of short-term debt to cover
spending needs in 2018 as a result of reductions in federal
transfers linked to the lower tax rates.

By reducing the corporate tax rate to 25% from 35% over two years
and lowering employer social security taxes, the law will also
benefit Argentine companies. The government's main aim with the
corporate tax reductions and the introduction of an offsetting tax
on dividends is to spur the retention and reinvestment of
corporate profits. The reform will also permit the government to
credit a steadily increasing portion of companies' financial
transfers taxes on bank deposits and withdrawals toward their
corporate income tax obligations. However, the elimination of
excise taxes on consumer electronics will likely heighten
competition for manufacturers in Tierra del Fuego, Moody's adds.

The tax changes will be negative overall for banks, but the impact
will be minor. Higher income tax on interest earnings on
individuals' term deposits will cause banks' funding costs to
increase. Other measures will affect banks more positively, such
as the government's ability to reduce the financial transfers tax
and the creation of new incentives for formal employment.



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


BARBADOS: Prime Minister Reports Fiscal Deficit on the Decline
--------------------------------------------------------------
Caribbean360.com reports that Barbados' fiscal deficit is on the
decline, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has reported.

Mr. Stuart says preliminary estimates suggested that, compared to
the previous fiscal year, the decline was sizeable, despite there
being some setbacks, according to Caribbean360.com.

"The setbacks to which I refer are mainly as a result of unplanned
delays in the sale of State assets, namely the Barbados National
Terminal Company Ltd. and the lower than expected yield (year to
date) of the National Social Responsibility Levy," Mr. Stuart said
in an address at the Business Luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, the report relays.

"With the deficit closing last fiscal year 2016/17 at around 6.8
per cent, it is anticipated that this gap will be closed by a
further three per cent, therefore bringing the actual outturn very
near to, or even surpassing, the intended target of 4.4 per cent
set during the budget estimates debate last year," the report
discloses.

In relation to the international reserves, the Prime Minister said
that at the end of September, they represented just around 8.6
weeks of import cover, the report relays.

He noted, however, that there were endemic challenges to
stabilizing these levels as there would be events, such as large
debt service payments and rising fuel prices, which could erode
the small gains achieved through net project inflows, and foreign
exchange earnings by the private sector, the report notes.

The report relates that Mr. Stuart lamented that the country's
imports of goods and services were too high in comparison to the
production of goods and services for exports, which were too low.

"Clearly, the future sustainability of our foreign reserves should
be predicated on the country's ability to earn foreign currency as
opposed to Government continuously having to go to the
international markets to borrow to prop up our foreign reserves.
Such activity accumulates foreign debt and is, in the end, not
sustainable," he contended, the report relays.

"In this regard, I wish to call on the private sector to lead the
effort to seriously grow our production export base to levels that
would lead to a 100 per cent increase in our export of goods and
services, and to see, for example, manufacturing's contribution to
our foreign exchange earnings surpassing the billion-dollar mark,"
the report discloses.

The report relays that Mr. Stuart pointed out that in the current
low growth environment, Government would have to play a stronger
facilitation role by promoting a business enabling policy
environment.

However, he noted that for its part, the private sector must seek
to capitalize on opportunities to invest and create wealth and
employment, and maintain a competitive edge by ensuring its goods
and services are of a high standard and the necessary work is done
to find markets and secure financing, the report notes.

"For a sustained economic recovery to be successful in the
Barbadian economy, the private sector businesses have to perform
at their very best in all sectors or industries, with maximum
facilitation support from the public sector," the Prime Minister
suggested, the report adds.



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B R A Z I L
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PARANA BANCO: S&P Affirms BB-/B Global Scale Issuer Credit Ratings
------------------------------------------------------------------
S&P Global Ratings affirmed its 'BB-/B' global scale and 'brA+'
national scale issuer credit ratings (ICR) on Parana Banco S.A.
The outlook remains negative, reflecting the negative trend in
S&P's Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment's (BICRA) economic
and industry risk for Brazil.

S&P said, "We base our ICR on Parana Banco on its portfolio
concentration in payroll deductible loans, which we believe can
lead to less predictable revenues compared to banks that have
diversified sources of revenue. Nonetheless, Parana Banco
continues to present adequate asset quality metrics and a solid
capital position, supported by our projected risk-adjusted capital
(RAC) ratio of 12.1% over the next two years. The bank also has
sound liquidity metrics, although we still believe its funding
base depends on institutional investors.

"Under our bank criteria, we use our BICRA's economic risk and
industry risk scores to determine a bank's anchor, the starting
point in assigning an ICR. Our anchor for a commercial bank
operating only in Brazil is 'bb+', based on the country's economic
risk score of '7' and an industry risk score of '5'."


PETROBRAS GLOBAL: Moody's Assigns Ba3 Rating to New Global Notes
----------------------------------------------------------------
Moody's Investors Service assigned a Ba3 rating to Petrobras
Global Finance B.V.'s proposed new global notes, which will be
unconditionally guaranteed by Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras,
Ba3 stable). The Ba3 rating on the proposed notes is based on the
rating of Petrobras. The proposed notes are senior unsecured and
pari passu with Petrobras Global Finance B.V.'s and Petrobras'
other senior foreign currency debt. Proceeds from the proposed
notes issuance will be used for debt refinancing and other general
corporate purposes. The outlook on the rating is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Petrobras' b1 Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA), which indicates
the company's standalone credit strength, and its Ba3 global scale
rating reflect its high debt levels and business plan execution
risk and, to a lesser extent, potential negative impact from fines
related to the Lava Jato investigation. Petrobras' ratings also
reflect the company's sizeable reserves at 9,592 Mboe as of
December 31, 2016 (equivalent to over 10 years of life), its solid
technological offshore expertise, and potential for continued
growth in production over the medium and long-term. In addition,
Petrobras' ratings consider Moody's joint-default analysis for the
company as a government-related issuer and therefore incorporate
its expectations for the credit profile of Brazil's government
(Ba2 negative). Petrobras' ratings reflect the assumption for
moderate support and dependence from the Government of Brazil
based on the company's demonstrated ability to lower its liquidity
risk and thus reduce the potential need of support, as well as the
government's tight fiscal position.

Petrobras' liquidity position is adequate. In 2018, the company
should generate close to US$30 billion in operating cash, which,
in addition to the US$25.3 billion in cash it held in September
2017, favorably compares to capital spending of below US$15
billion and debt maturities of US$6.5 billion. In addition, in
early January, Petrobras announced that it had signed an agreement
to settle a class action lawsuit in the US for US$2.95 billion to
resolve investors' claims against the company. If approved, the
agreement would remove the uncertainty related to the amount to be
paid to plaintiffs and most probably set a benchmark for future
fines that could be imposed on the company. The class action,
which started in 2015, was brought against Petrobras on behalf of
investors for alleged violations of the federal securities laws
for purportedly concealing corruption and bribery schemes.

The stable outlook on Petrobras' ratings incorporates Moody's view
that the company's credit profile will continue to improve
gradually, which is counterbalanced by the negative outlook on the
government of Brazil's Ba2 rating.

A positive rating action could occur if Petrobras raises
sufficient sums through asset sales to further reduce debt while
also improving operating and cash flow performance. Accordingly,
for a rating upgrade to occur, Petrobras' leverage (as adjusted by
Moody's) should move sustainably below 3.5 times. In addition,
because Petrobras is a sovereign owned enterprise, an upgrade of
its ratings would consider Moody's expectations for the credit
profile of Brazil's government.

A negative action on Petrobras' rating could result from a
deterioration in operating performance or external factors that
increase liquidity risk or debt leverage from current levels. A
downgrade could also be prompted if negative developments from
litigations against Petrobras appear to have the potential to
significantly affect the company's liquidity or financial profile.

The methodologies used in this rating were Global Integrated Oil &
Gas Industry published in October 2016, and Government-Related
Issuers published in August 2017.

Petrobras is an integrated energy company, with total assets of
$254 billion as of September 30, 2017. The company dominates
Brazil's oil and natural gas production, as well as downstream
refining and marketing. Petrobras also holds a significant stake
in petrochemicals and a position in sugar-based ethanol production
and distribution. The Brazilian government directly and indirectly
owns 47.6% of Petrobras' outstanding capital stock and 63.6% of
its voting shares.



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J A M A I C A
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NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK: Posts $16.7BB Operating Income
--------------------------------------------------------
RJR News reports that National Commercial Bank is reporting that
its operating income for the October to December quarter totaled
$16.7 billion.

This was a 17 per cent or $2.5 billion increase over the prior
year, according to RJR News.

The main performance drivers were: gains on foreign currency and
investment activities increasing by $1.4 billion or 83 per cent,
resulting from the strengthening of the local currency during the
quarter, coupled with high levels of liquidity and a declining
interest rate environment, the report notes.

Net interest income was up 5 per cent or $346 million fuelled by
the growth in the loan portfolio, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
March 1, 2017, Fitch Ratings has affirmed National Commercial Bank
Jamaica Limited's 'B' longterm and shortterm foreign and local
currency Issuer Default Ratings.



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M E X I C O
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MEXICO: 2017 Trade Deficit Narrows
----------------------------------
Anthony Harrup at The Wall Street Journal reports that Mexico
registered its smallest trade deficit in three years as last
year's gains in exports of manufactured goods helped offset a
widening gap in its petroleum products trade.

The country ran up a $157 million deficit in December, bringing
the full-year 2017 trade deficit to $10.88 billion, the National
Statistics Institute said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
December exports rose 7.9% to $35.82 billion, and imports rose
8.4% to $35.98 billion, the report notes.

For the full year, exports were up 9.5% from 2016 at $409.49
billion, and imports increased by 8.6% to $420.37 billion, the
report relays.  The country, which exports crude oil but imports
most of its natural gas and gasoline, had an $18.4 billion deficit
in petroleum trade and a $7.53 billion surplus in nonpetroleum
trade, the report says.

Manufacturing exports rose 8.5% to $364.49 billion, led by an
11.8% increase in shipments of vehicles and auto parts, while
agricultural exports were 8.9% higher than the previous year at
$15.97 billion, the report discloses.

The year was marked by sharp swings in the value of the Mexican
peso as the U.S., Mexico and Canada embarked on negotiations to
rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement, the report
relays.  The peso hit a record low against the U.S. dollar in
January, recovered by midyear, and weakened again toward the end
of 2017 amid fears that U.S. President Donald Trump could decide
to pull the U.S. out of the trade pact, the report discloses.

The peso has appreciated in recent weeks, however, amid optimism
that progress will be made in the sixth round of Nafta talks,
under way in Montreal, where the U.S. is expected to consider
counterproposals from Mexico and Canada on rules of origin for the
auto industry, the report relays.

The U.S. has proposed sharply raising the North American content
in cars that benefit from tariff-free imports into the U.S.,
including at least 50% U.S. content, the report notes.

Changes in rules of origin could lead to a temporary slowdown in
trade as auto makers adapt, said Marco Oviedo, head of Latin
American economic research at Barclays, the report says.  But
"until we see acceptance of agreements, the risk is still there,"
he added.

Meanwhile, robust U.S. economic growth continues to support
Mexican exports, of which around 80% go to the U.S, the report
notes.

"The Nafta rules continue, and until governments agree to other
stuff, and congresses approve the changes, trade continues to flow
as usual," Mr. Oviedo said, the report relays.

One of Mr. Trump's aims in seeking to overhaul Nafta is to reduce
the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico, the report relays.  The U.S.
had a $65.68 billion deficit in goods trade with Mexico through
November of 2017, compared with a $64.35 billion deficit in all of
2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the report notes.  The
Census Bureau is due to release trade data for December on Feb. 6,
the report adds.



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P U E R T O    R I C O
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BEBE STORES: Neil Subin Has 9.2% Stake as of Jan. 12
----------------------------------------------------
Neil S. Subin reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission
that as of Jan. 12, 2018, he beneficially owns 1,046,394 shares of
common stock of bebe stores, inc., constituting 9.2 percent based
upon 11,433,013 Common Stock outstanding according to the Form 8-K
filed by the Issuer on Jan. 16, 2018.

Mr. Subin has succeeded to the position of president and manager
of MILFAM LLC, which serves as manager, general partner, or
investment advisor of a number of entities formerly managed or
advised by the late Lloyd I. Miller, III.  Mr. Subin also serves
as trustee of a number of Miller family trusts.

A full-text copy of the regulatory filing is available at:

                      https://is.gd/bOjJrW

                     About bebe stores inc.

Based in Brisbane, California, bebe stores inc. (NASDAQ: BEBE) --
http://www.bebe.com/-- is a women's retail clothier established
in 1976.  The brand develops and produces a line of women's
apparel and accessories, which it markets under the Bebe,
BebeSport, and Bebe Outlet names.

Manny Mashouf founded bebe stores, inc. and has served as chairman
of the Board since the Company's incorporation in 1976.  Mr.
Mashouf became the chief executive officer starting February 2016.

He previously served as the Company's CEO from 1976 to February
2004 and again from January 2009 to January 2013.  Mr. Mashouf is
the uncle of Hamid Mashouf, the Company's chief information
officer.  The Company operated brick-and-mortar stores in the
United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.  The Company had 142 retail
stores before ending all retail operations in the U.S. by May 27,
2017.  As of July 1, 2017, the Company had no remaining stores and
had fully impaired, all of its remaining long-lived assets at its
corporate offices and distribution center because of the shut-down
of its operations.

bebe stores reported a net loss of $138.96 million on $0 of net
sales for the fiscal year ended July 1, 2017, compared to a net
loss of $27.48 million on $0 of net sales for the fiscal year
ended July 2, 2016.  As of Sept. 30, 2017, bebe stores had $30.87
million in total assets, $39.21 million in total liabilities and a
total shareholders' deficit of $8.34 million.

The report from the Company's independent registered public
accounting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, in San Francisco,
California, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, included an
explanatory paragraph stating that the Company has incurred
recurring losses from operations and negative cash flows from
operations and expects significant uncertainty in generating
sufficient cash to meet its obligations and sustain its
operations, which raises substantial doubt about its ability to
continue as a going concern.



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T R I N I D A D  &  T O B A G O
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CARIBBEAN NITROGEN: Ammonia Plant in Trinidad Shuts Down
--------------------------------------------------------
Caribbean360.com reports that the Caribbean Nitrogen Company (CNC)
says it has been forced to immediately shut down its ammonia plant
on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate in central Trinidad,
impacting more than 400 jobs.

It said the shutdown was a result of action taken by the National
Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC) to cut off gas supply to
the plant, according too Caribbean360.com.

"We had no choice but to shut down the plant to ensure the well-
being of our people and protect our investment. Unfortunately,
this action by NGC will negatively affect the future of our 110
loyal workers," said Jerome Dookie, CEO of CNC, the report notes.

It is also estimated that as many as 300 additional workers
indirectly connected to the operations will also be affected, the
report relays.

Mr. Dookie said the current situation is highly regrettable, given
that CNC has been in a dialogue with the National Gas Company for
almost a year, the report relays.

"CNC had even accepted multiple interim extensions of our gas
supply, until Jan. 30, at a detrimental cost to itself.  These
extensions were implemented to facilitate further discussions
between CNC and NGC to agree on the terms of a long-term gas
supply contract," he added.

"The NGC has, however, been unresponsive to the many concessions
CNC has made, and unrealistic as to the global forces affecting
not only CNC's exports, but Trinidad's exports of ammonia, which
must compete in the international marketplace.
The NGC is unfortunately making Trinidad the world's marginal
producer of ammonia with its uneconomical pricing policies," the
CEO contended, the report relays.

He also acknowledged the Government's intervention in trying to
arrive at a resolution of the matter, "and the key role that it
plays in maintaining the stability and sustainability of this
vital sector in the national interest," the report relays.

"Our sincere hope is that the Government understands our
obligation to protect the interests of our employees, our
partners, our customers and our shareholders," Mr. Dookie added,
the report notes.

"The company regrets the negative impact the shutdown will have on
everyone involved. While we remain committed to resolving all
outstanding issues with The National Gas Company, we will also
continue to explore all available options to protect our
interests," Mr. Dookie said, the report relays.

However, the NGC said in its own statement that the termination of
CNC's gas supply was strictly due to their gas sales agreement
having expired, the report relays.

"Regrettably, and despite NGC's best efforts, no agreement was
reached with CNC on this matter. NGC will continue to exert all
reasonable efforts to try to secure a mutually-acceptable
agreement," it said, the report notes.

Regarding CNC's now-expired contract, NGC said it "will continue
to work assiduously and professionally to secure a mutually-
acceptable agreement," the report adds.



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V I R G I N   I S L A N D S
===========================


VIRGIN ISLANDS: Launches 150-day Marketing Plan
------------------------------------------------
Caribbean360.com reports that following the impact of two Category
5 hurricanes in September, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of
Tourism has developed a 150-day rolling marketing plan to share
with industry stakeholders.

"This new plan has been developed to establish priorities and a
road map of activities we will pursue as our destination
recovers," Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty stated,
according to Caribbean360.com.

She noted that the "abridged plan" will be fluid and adaptable to
the current dynamic recovery environment and the Department of
Tourism is committed to continuing to share regular progress
updates with travel partners and the local community, the report
notes.

The Commissioner disclosed that the Department is working with a
significantly reduced budget, as marketing activities are funded
by room tax revenues, the report relays.  "With a significant
number of accommodations unavailable for most of 2018, the
marketing plan reflects working with a reduced budget," she
explained, noting that the U.S. Virgin Islands will maintain a
limited presence at key trade shows across the United States, the
report discloses.

Public relations and marketing efforts will focus on sharing
Virgin Islanders' stories of resilience, the report relays.  "Our
digital marketing efforts will primarily focus on social media,
where we will highlight segments such as cruise, shopping, dining,
watersports, beaches, romance, culture, available accommodations
and yachting," she said, the report relays.  Efforts and messaging
toward telling stories of resilience will use the hashtag
#USVIStillNice.

"As we recover from the challenges posed by Hurricanes Irma and
Maria, we have no doubt that there is an opportunity for the U.S.
Virgin Islands -- with a refreshed product and visitor experience
-- to become the premier tourism destination in the Caribbean,"
the Commissioner asserted, the report notes.

She reported that airline and cruise line development meetings
will continue this year, and that volunteerism opportunities are
being launched across the Territory, a detailed plan for which
will be unveiled during the first quarter of 2018, the report
discloses.

The Territory's film industry will also remain a focus, with the
Department attending industry trade shows specifically targeted to
this audience, the report relays.

The Commissioner expressed her ongoing appreciation of the
business community and travel partners for their support of the
destination and their continued collaboration, the report relays.

The Department will make the 150-day plan available to
stakeholders over the next several days, 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.

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.



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