TCRLA_Public/190814.mbx        T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

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

          Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Vol. 20, No. 162

                           Headlines



B R A Z I L

BRAZIL: May Have Entered Into "Technical" Recession in 2ndQ 2019
BRAZIL: Real Falls Below US$4 for the First Time Since May


D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: July Prices Climb 0.47% Paced by Foods


M E X I C O

MEXICO: Tourism Activity Falls 0.60% in 1st Qtr. of 2019
UNIFIN FINANCIERA: Fitch Rates $200MM Sr. Unsec. Notes Final 'BB'


V E N E Z U E L A

CITGO PETROLEUM: To Appoint New CEO to Navigate Legal Turmoil

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B R A Z I L
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BRAZIL: May Have Entered Into "Technical" Recession in 2ndQ 2019
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The Rio Times Online reports that the Brazilian economy recorded a
retraction of 0.13 percent in the second quarter of 2019, according
to the Economic Activity Index (IBC-Br), a sort of "preview" of the
Gross Domestic Product (GDP), released by the Central Bank (BC) on
Monday, August 12.

The 0.13 percent drop between April and June of this year was
evidenced in comparison with the first quarter, according to The
Rio Times Online.  The number was computed after seasonal
adjustment, the report notes.

The report relays that the economic activity index had already
retreated 0.2 percent in the first three months of this year,
against the last quarter of last.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on May
27, 2019, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Brazil's Long-Term
Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-' with a Stable
Outlook.

BRAZIL: Real Falls Below US$4 for the First Time Since May
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The Rio Times Online reports that Brazil's real weakened sharply on
Aug. 12, falling below US$4 for the first time since late May as
local markets felt the heat from surging market volatility and
political uncertainty in neighboring Argentina.

In early trading, the dollar was up 1.8 percent at BRL4.01, the
highest since May 29.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on May
27, 2019, Fitch Ratings has affirmed Brazil's Long-Term
Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BB-' with a Stable
Outlook.



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D O M I N I C A N   R E P U B L I C
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: July Prices Climb 0.47% Paced by Foods
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Dominican Today reports that July prices climbed 0.47% on rising
foods and accumulated inflation stood at 1.64%  in the first seven
month, the Central Bank reported.

In the last 12 months, inflation stood at 1.40%, below the goal of
the Central Bank's monetary program, or +-4.00%, according to
Dominican Today.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages rose 1.46% compared to the
previous month and were the group that most contributed to
inflation in the month, the report notes.

"Due to the rise in food prices, increased inflation is what most
affects the poorest population, which reached 0.79%," the Central
Bank said, the report relays.

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island
of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. Capital city Santo Domingo
has Spanish landmarks like the Gothic Catedral Primada de America
dating back 5 centuries in its Zona Colonial district.

The Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America reported on April 4,
2019 that the Dominican Today related that Juan Del Rosario of the
UASD Economic Faculty cited a current economic slowdown for the
Dominican Republic and cautioned that if the trend continues,
growth would reach only 4% by 2023. Mr. Del Rosario said that if
that happens, "we'll face difficulties in meeting international
commitments."

An ongoing concern in the Dominican Republic is the inability of
participants in the electricity sector to establish financial
viability for the system.

Standard & Poor's credit rating for Dominican Republic stands at
BB- with stable outlook (2015). Moody's credit rating for Dominican
Republic was last set at Ba3 with stable outlook (2017). Fitch's
credit rating for Dominican Republic was last reported at BB- with
stable outlook (2016).



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M E X I C O
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MEXICO: Tourism Activity Falls 0.60% in 1st Qtr. of 2019
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Latinx Today reports that Mexico's tourism activity fell 0.60
percent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same
period in 2018, due to a drop in travel by domestic tourists and a
decline in demand for services, the National Institute of
Statistics and Geography (INEGI) said.

In the January-March period, spending by both domestic and foreign
tourists declined 0.40 percent, compared to the same period in
2018, the INEGI said in a statement obtained by the news agency.

Services offered to domestic and foreign tourists, meanwhile, fell
0.80 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2019,
while sales of goods dropped 0.30 percent, according to Latinx
Today.

The report notes that the services segment is the most important
component of the tourism industry's contribution to the gross
domestic product (GDP).

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the tourism industry's output of
goods and services contracted 0.10 percent in the first quarter,
compared to the prior quarter, while spending by tourists remained
unchanged, the report relays.

In 2017, Mexico became the No. 6 country in the world in terms of
visitors, welcoming 39.3 million foreign tourists, the report
relays.

The tourism industry, moreover, generated a record $21 billion in
revenues that year, the report notes.

Last year, according to preliminary government figures, Mexico
welcomed 41.7 million tourists and was bumped from sixth place in
the rankings by Turkey, the report notes.

The tourism industry accounts for 8.8 percent of Mexico's GDP and
employs 4.1 million people directly and 6.5 million others
indirectly, the report notes.

Mexico could finish 2019 with $23.26 billion in revenues generated
from foreign tourists, welcoming up to 43.4 million visitors, the
Tourism Secretariat said in a report released earlier this year,
the report discloses.

The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who
took office on Dec. 1, hopes to give tourism in southern Mexico a
boost with the construction of the Tren Maya railway project, the
report relays.

The railway will link the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatan,
Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas, which are home to important Mayan
archaeological sites, the report notes.

The administration also plans to turn the Santa Lucia military base
into a civilian airport to ease congestion at the Mexico City
international airport, the report adds.

UNIFIN FINANCIERA: Fitch Rates $200MM Sr. Unsec. Notes Final 'BB'
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Fitch Ratings has assigned a final rating of 'BB' to Unifin
Financiera, S.A.B. de C.V.'s (BB/Stable) U.S. dollar senior
unsecured notes of up to USD200 million Reg S/144A due 2022. The
final rating is in line with the expected rating assigned on Aug.
8, 2019.

The notes have a maturity of three years at a fixed rate with
semi-annual interest payments. The principal will be paid at
maturity, may be redeemed at the option of the issuer and is fully
and unconditionally guaranteed by two operating subsidiaries of
Unifin.

The net proceeds from the offering will be used to refinance
existing liabilities.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The rating assigned to these senior notes is at the same level as
Unifin's 'BB' Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs), as the
likelihood of default on the notes is the same as Unifin's.

There is no increased exposure to market risk because of this
transaction, as the company will hedge both FX rate risk and
interest rate risk with cross-currency swaps for both the principal
and interest payments.

Unifin's ratings are highly influenced by its national leadership
in the independent leasing sector in Mexico (non-related to
financial holding company) and its ample expertise in its core
market focused on SME, typically unattended by the banking sector.
The ratings are also significantly influenced by the company's
relatively tight capitalization metrics. The ratings also consider
Unifin's good earnings, controlled asset quality, and well-managed
liquidity and funding.

The adoption of IFRS accounting standards in 1Q19 provides more
clarity on Unifin's asset quality, which has led to stronger
reserve coverage. However, this put more pressure on the company's
already tight capitalization and leverage position under Fitch's
core metric. As of March 2019 and following the adoption of IFRS,
Unifin's tangible leverage ratios (measured as total debt to
tangible common equity) exceeded Fitch's sensitivity according to
its ratings level. On July 8, Unifin made a restatement of the 1Q19
internal financial statements due to further IFRS adjustments and
the ratio changed to 7.9x from 8.5x previously reported,
considering the company's adjusted and reclassified intangibles and
other deferred and prepaid expenses. Fitch will closely monitor
final adjustments to these low loss-absorbing assets once audited
financial statements are published. As of June 2019, Unifin's
tangible leverage ratios stood at 7.7x, a level that remains tight
under Fitch's metrics.

Company projections show leverage gradually improving to nearly
7.1x as of year-end (YE) 2020, a ratio that Fitch believes is still
relatively tight but consistent with the current rating level. If
the company does not show consistent improvement of leverage
metrics toward the 7x threshold, negative rating actions could
occur in the near future. Fitch does not expect a greater
deterioration of leverage metrics after the issuance of the new
senior notes as they will refinance some existing liabilities.

Unifin's profitability remains at good levels but lower than
historical records due to higher interest expenses and structural
changes under IFRS. As of June 2019, the pre-tax income to average
assets ratio reduced to around 3% from historic average levels of
4%. Asset quality is controlled, and has not resulted in a general
deterioration or material borrower concentrations. At the same
date, the company's NPL ratio stood at 3.8%, lower than its closest
peers; while the loan loss allowance coverage of NPLs increased
after IFRS adoption and was around 50% as of June 2019 and, in
Fitch's opinion, continues to be relatively limited.

Unifin has a more diversified and unsecured funding structure than
local peers. However, the entity is heavily reliant on wholesale
financing through local debt issuances via securitizations and
international senior bonds. Fitch believes Unifin's refinancing
risk is carefully monitored and managed because of the company's
diversified funding structure, well-planned liability maturities
and reasonable levels of liquid assets held. The company's
well-articulated strategic objectives and high risk appetite, due
to ample balance sheet growth, were also factored in Unifin's
ratings.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

The rating for the new senior notes will mirror any changes in
Unifin's corporate ratings. The notes could be downgraded below
Unifin's IDRs if the level of unencumbered loans deteriorates
substantially enough to subordinate the bondholders to other senior
unsecured debt.



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V E N E Z U E L A
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CITGO PETROLEUM: To Appoint New CEO to Navigate Legal Turmoil
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Marianna Parraga at Reuters reports that Citgo Petroleum Corp has
selected Carlos Jorda as its next chief executive, according to
three people familiar with the matter, turning to a seasoned
refinery expert and native Venezuelan to run a company facing legal
attacks and working under U.S. sanctions against parent Petroleos
de Venezuela (PDVSA).

Citgo cut ties with PDVSA earlier this year after U.S. President
Donald Trump's administration sanctioned the state-run company and
recognized Juan Guaido, Venezuela's congress chief, as the nation's
legitimate leader, according to Reuters.  Citgo officials loyal to
President Nicolas Maduro were ousted and new boards for PDVSA and
Citgo were named by the Venezuelan congress in February, the report
notes.

An appointment could be announced as soon as this week, after
Citgo's board votes on the selection process, according to one of
the sources, the report notes.

Jorda, 69, was chairman of Citgo Petroleum between 1999 and 2002
and retired from the company in the early 2000s, the report
discloses.  He is a director at Delek US Holding, an oil refiner
based in Tennessee, and an adviser at consultancy Gaffney, Cline &
Associates, the report relays.

A Citgo spokeswoman referred questions on Jorda and the potential
appointment to a June statement acknowledging that the board was
searching for a "leader who can best navigate the complex
geopolitical and financial landscape," the report relays.

Reuters notes that Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said over
the weekend that the Trump administration is "stealing" Citgo,
applying "irrational measures" and pursuing an economic war against
Maduro.

The next CEO will take over a profitable business with nearly $30
billion in revenue last year, according to company disclosures.
Citgo is the eighth largest U.S. refiner by capacity and markets
through a network of 5,300 retail outlets, the report relays.

But it is a company under siege on several fronts: Maduro has his
own directors and considers the separation from PDVSA as illegal;
creditors want to grab Citgo in payment for Venezuela's debts; and
the U.S. Justice Department is probing its role in alleged
bribery-for-contracts schemes, the report notes.

Luisa Palacios, a Venezuelan executive appointed by Guaido to lead
Citgo's board, would remain as chair and other directors also would
continue, two of the sources said, the report says.

The decision comes as a U.S. court confirmed the Guaido
administration's authority to appoint the Citgo board, rejecting a
lawsuit by Maduro-appointed officials seeking to retake control of
the company, the report notes.

Washington issued an executive order freezing any property of the
Venezuelan government in U.S. territory and opening a window for
the enforcement of secondary sanctions on the country, where PDVSA
is struggling to allocate and receive cash from exports, the report
discloses.

Reuters relays that the order, along with new licenses permitting
some exceptions, aims to protect Venezuela's overseas assets,
especially Citgo, from some creditors while giving power to
Guaido's representatives to negotiate with foreign holders of
Venezuela's debt.

Citgo operates refineries in Texas, Louisiana and Illinois that can
process up to 749,000 barrels of crude oil per day, the report
notes.  Shares in its U.S. parent, Citgo Holding, were used by
Maduro as collateral for debt due in 2020 and for a loan from
Russian oil company Rosneft, the report adds.

As reported in the Troubled Company Reporter-Latin America on
April 2, 2019, S&P Global Ratings said it assigned its 'B+'
issue-level rating and '1' recovery rating to U.S.-based refinery
and petroleum product marketer and distributor CITGO Petroleum
Corp.'s $1.2 billion senior secured term loan due in 2024. At the
same time, S&P Global Ratings placed the rating on CreditWatch with
developing implications.

The company plans to use the proceeds from the financing to provide
liquidity for ongoing business needs. In addition, the company
plans to terminate its revolving credit facility and AR
securitization facility.


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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 2019.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

This material is copyrighted and any commercial use, resale or
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Information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to
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balance thereof are US$25 each.  For subscription information,
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.


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