If you’re going to invest in Argentina, you better put on your big boy pants, and be prepared to lose them.
Earlier this week the country said that it had hired the banks to issue its bonds on the international market. That’s a big deal, as Argentina has been the black sheep of international markets since it’s 2001 default.
Basically no one wanted to buy their debt after that disaster. After over ten years of paying back debt, though, Argentina had only one major credit problem left — it refused to pay a specific group of its bondholders over $US1.3 billion of defaulted debt because the bondholders wouldn’t take a 70% cut to their payout.
Those bondholders were led by hedge fund manager Paul Singer, and he sued the country until it went right back into default.
So that’s where Argentina is now — technically. It’s in technical default. Also the economy is in incredibly bad shape. Inflation is hovering over 40%, capital flight is rampant, and women were freaking out earlier this year because Argentina’s weird import/export policies made it impossible to find tampons.
Anyway, the country decided that now was the time for it to issue bonds regardless of its state. JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank signed on to help. They did, however, send potential investors an unusual letter warning them of the dangers of investing, especially because of Singer’s ongoing lawsuit and general doggedness in pursuit of his money.
And also because the banks didn’t want to be sued in the event that something went wrong, of course.
“In particular no investor will have any claim and the Sellers will have no liability based on: (i) any difference the purchase price and any subsequent value of the Securities; (ii) the ability of any investor to receieve any interest or redemption payment to cover the principle amount of the Securities; or (ii) any circumstances beyond the Sellers control, included where the Securities are not admitted to a relevant clearing system or otherwise delivered,” it said.
In other words, JP Morgan and Deutsche bank are saying: Sign here and then do not ask us about this stuff again because are on your OWN!
To be fair this is what any rational institution would do. Sure, a lot of investors are saying that the country is a a buying opportunity once President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s intransigent government is out of power out of elections this fall, but you actually never really know in Argentina. She already tried to change the Argentine Constitution once so she could run again and failed.
Plus, Singer and his cadre (known collectively as NML) were not happy about any of this. They went to the judge that’s been presiding over their case and got an injunction forcing JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank to show them the bond issue documents (including this letter).
“Despite our repeated attempts to engage in good-faith negotiations, the Argentine government appears determined to remain in default and in contempt of a U.S. federal court order,” said an NML spokesman regarding the bond issue. “We are dismayed that JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are participating in the schemes of an international scofflaw, schemes which we believe are an attempt to evade the court-ordered enforcement of bondholders’ rights.”
As practiced as NML is at waging legal war on Argentina, it’s not crazy to think they would throw JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank in there too if they thought they had a claim. NML still hasn’t gotten its money, so the
That’s probably like this was dropped. Fast.
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