Argentina is gloating at its hedge fund enemies

On Tuesday the Argentine government held a bond offering — something it really hasn’t had an opportunity to do much since its 2001 default. The Republic sold $US1.4 billion worth of bonds.

So Economy Minister Axel Kicillof took to Twitter to gloat a little bit (you can check out the tweets in Spanish here).

“The analysts said that “the market” was asking us to pay $US1.8 billion to the vultures,” he said. “Never the less, the market clearly showed us the opposite: It wasn’t scared by the vultures and it invested $US1.4 billion in our country.”

This after Argentina technically defaulted on its sovereign debt last fall. The default was just another chapter in its decade-plus legal battle against a group of hedge funds collectively known as NML.

NML bought Argentine bonds at basement prices in during its last default. Instead of taking a haircut on that debt like over 90% of investors, though, it wanted to be paid 100 cents on the dollar. For that, Argentina refused to pay NML while settling debts with creditors all around the world — that made the Republic a pariah of international markets.

And so Kicillof is acting like this bond offering was his country’s coming out party.

“The market also rejected the recommendations of rating agencies like Moodys, that are constantly getting their prognostications wrong,” he tweeted. “The difference between what happened in Argentina from 1976 to 2003, today the country takes funds to execute our sovereign economic policy.”

Michael NovogratzScreenshot via Bloomberg.comMike Novogratz, founder of Fortress Investments said last year that Argentina was looking ‘so bad it’s good.’

Another difference between now and then is that the world is incredibly hungry for yield. The US Federal Reserve’s low interest rates policy has made it so that investors are willing to take more risk to get a decent return. Some investors believe that after Argentina’s elections this fall there will be a new government in place — one more friendly to financial markets.

The problem is, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is incredibly popular right now, and while she can’t run, she can pick a successor that emulates her political philosophy. Not only that, but she can also go back to her old job as a legislator in Argentina’s congress or a governor of a province once she leaves and wield influence that way.

She can also return to the presidency by 2019 — and political pollsters in the country believe she’ll do just that.

Naturally, NML’s lawyer, Robert Cohen, isn’t having any of this. Here’s the statement he sent out yesterday:

“Those contemplating participation in Argentina’s latest attempt at a global offer should understand that it appears to have all the hallmarks of external indebtedness that is covered by our pari passu rights. We are closely scrutinizing this highly unusual transaction to determine what enforcement actions are appropriate.”

Parri passu (in case you haven’t been following) is the contractual legal ground under which NML sued Argentina and states that the Republic cannot pay some debt holders over others.

For what it’s worth, when Argentina tried to have a bond offering last February, NML managed to stop them, And according to Bloomberg, NML has sent a letter to Deutsche Bank asking it for information about this bond offering too.

According to analysts, if this adds to the Republic’s “foreign indebtedness” as defined by a US Court — meaning that Argentina sold bonds abroad, or didn’t stop foreigners from participating in the auction — then some people may be getting their money back.

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