NEW YORK: The new Argentine government reopened talks with bondholders in New York Wednesday that for years have blocked the struggling country's access to global capital markets.
Officials said they plan to submit a proposal later this month, which they hope will finally provide a resolution to the long-running financial crisis.
Talks between bondholders and representatives of the new government of President Mauricio Macri, who has pledged to reform and revitalize the Argentine economy, opened in Manhattan under the guidance of the court-appointed mediator Daniel Pollack.
"We'll be presenting Argentina's proposal during the week of Monday, January 25 to Pollack and to the holdout firms" Luis Caputo, an official representing Buenos Aires said at the close of five hours of negotiations on the first day of talks.
The previous administration of Cristina Kirchner had refused to compromise with the creditors, mainly hedge funds it branded "vultures," after a US court ordered the country to pay the full value of bonds that Buenos Aires defaulted on some 15 years ago.
The leaders of the so-called "holdout" group, the hedge funds NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management, bought up Argentine debt cheaply around the time of the default and over the next decade refused to join 93 percent of bondholders in restructuring the debt.
Speaking in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, Argentine Economy Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay said the South American country would negotiate "with toughness" but was committed to finding an agreement.
On Tuesday, Macri said he hoped for a "reasonable agreement" with the creditors, who have demanded 100 percent payment of their bonds even though most of the creditors in the country's $100 billion default in 2001 accepted sharp losses in a negotiated debt restructuring.
"We will tell the mediator that there has been a change, another vision for our debts and how to stop being a defaulter and to resolve the pending issues," Macri said.
To the great dismay of Argentina and its restructured bondholders, NML and Aurelius won a New York court judgment in 2012 that ordered Argentina to repay the full value of their bonds.
The decision roiled the sovereign bond world.
The court said, moreover, that Buenos Aires could not make payments on the restructured bonds without first paying off in full the two hedge funds. And it forbade banks from handling any other bond payments before the hedge funds were paid.
Kirchner's government refused, and talks on an ostensible compromise went nowhere.