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Argentina Negotiates Debt Dispute with "Holdout" Hedge Funds

Argentina begins negotiations with groups that sued the country for more than $1 billion after the country's 2001 default.
Argentina's new government begins negotiations in New York with groups that sued the country for more than $1 billion after the country defaulted on its debt in 2001. President Mauricio Macri took office in December and announced his intention to reach a settlement. The investor groups are known as "holdouts" because they refused to participate in Argentina's debt restructuring deals that 92 percent of investors accepted. US courts ruled Argentina could not pay the restructured debt holders unless it paid the holdout funds in full. Argentina refused and defaulted again in July 2014.

"Argentina's new government wants to put this dispute behind them‎ so they can better access the markets again," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious debt relief group Jubilee USA, which filed a brief to the US Supreme Court in the debt dispute. "Poor interpretations of US law by US Courts led to this moment."

The meeting includes Argentine Finance Minister Luis Caputo, representatives of the holdouts and court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack. Pollack previously attempted to negotiate a settlement between the two sides.The holdouts include so-called "vulture funds" that are known to target countries struggling with financial crisis.

After the Supreme Court refused to hear Argentina's case in 2014, several groups promoted various solutions to ensure the precedent in the Argentine debt dispute wouldn't negatively impact other countries. The International Monetary Fund, United Nations, US Treasury and the largest consortium of banks and investors proposed or enacted ways to protect countries when restructuring their debt.

"Argentina is a good example of why we need to improve debt restructuring processes," noted LeCompte, who serves on UN expert groups that devise solutions to the kinds of crises that Argentina experienced. "As countries around the world deal with debt crisis, we need resolution processes that are transparent, fast, fair and orderly."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 550 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org