Wrestling with Restructuring

Oct 1, 2001

The deteriorating credit quality of many Latin American debt issuers is raising their financing costs, threatening to push struggling companies over the edge and ignite an unprecedented succession of defaults on corporate bond issues.

Emerging market bond investors have busied themselves for much of this year debating the implications of an Argentine sovereign default on the international capital markets. Nowadays, they are facing an additional worry: the prospect of Latin companies defaulting on their corporate bonds.

Prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, Argentina's depressed economy was the largest impediment to Latin companies meeting their financing needs. The attacks dealt a blow to the already softening US economy and the now deteriorating credit quality of many Latin American companies is raising their financing costs. Larger drains on cash threaten to push struggling companies over the edge and ignite an unprecedented succession of defaults on corporate bond issues.

Latin American companies have some $2.37 billion in bonds maturing in the local and international markets before the end of this year, according to Dealogic Emerging Markets Ware, a database tracking international and domestic bond issues....

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“The crisis has been a setback for reserve diversification."

Jan Dehn, Ashmore Investment Management