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News :: International
US Judge Explores Lifting Argentina Sanctions After Country Offers $6.5 Billion to Hold-Out Investors
12 Feb 2016
US District Judge Thomas Griesa ordered "hold-out" investors on Thursday to explain why various sanctions on Argentina should not be lifted.
US District Judge Thomas Griesa ordered "hold-out" investors on Thursday to explain why various sanctions on Argentina should not be lifted. The court order comes in light of Argentina proposing a $6.5 billion settlement to the groups popularly known as "vulture funds."

"Judge Griesa is appropriately pushing the funds to take the deal," said Eric LeCompte, the head of Jubilee USA and a UN debt expert who tracked the case for six years. "The hold-out funds won and should let Argentina return to the markets. I'm surprised they haven't taken a deal that results in such massive profits."

Argentina requested the order after it made the offer to the remaining investors last week. The deal constitutes a value of 75% of the original value of the defaulted debt. Two funds, Dart Management and Montreux Equity Partners, accepted the deal. However the deal can't move forward until four other principle funds accept it. ‎The remaining hold-outs are Elliott Management, Aurelius Capital Management, Davidson Kempner Capital Management and Bracebridge Capital.

"These funds are poised to make a 1000% profit after buying the debt for pennies on the dollar," said LeCompte. "It's baffling why they wouldn't accept such a deal and Judge Griesa is starting to push them to take it."

According to Reuters who reviewed court papers, Argentina's lawyers are asking the judge to vacate injunctions that would let Argentina access capital markets to fund the settlements and force the remaining "hold-outs" to accept "reasonable terms."

The $6.5 billion offer must be approved by the remaining hedge funds involved in the dispute and then gain approval from a US judge and Argentina's legislature.

The dispute stems from Argentina's 2001 debt default. Afterwards, 92% of Argentina's investors accepted a settlement offer that restructured the South American country's debt. Among the groups that rejected the deal were a group of hedge funds that had bought Argentina's debt cheaply after the default. They sued Argentina in US courts and eventually won a ruling ordering Argentina not to pay the majority of its investors until it paid the "hold-outs" in full. During that legal dispute, the US government, International Monetary Fund and United Nations expressed opposition to the hold-outs' actions.

"On the downside, Argentina's settlement represents a validation of a predatory business model," noted LeCompte, whose organization filed a 2014 brief to the Supreme Court because it was concerned how the precedent could impact other countries. "We need financial structures in place to protect countries from this kind of behavior."
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