Argentina returns to sovereign bond market for first time in 15 years

20 Apr 16

Argentina has returned to the international bond market for the first time since its sovereign debt default in 2001 with a $16.5bn issue.

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Argentinian president Mauricio Macri

Argentinian president Mauricio Macri

 

Tuesday’s massively oversubscribed issue was among the largest emerging market debt sales on record and attracted nearly $70bn in orders – almost as much as the $80bn worth of bonds Argentina defaulted on 15 years ago.

The proceeds from the bond will go to settling the painful dispute with investors over the unpaid debt.

The country’s return to the debt market comes less than six months after president Mauricio Macri took up post, ending 12 years of left-of-centre rule most recently headed by Cristina Fernández. She took over in 2007 from her husband Néstor Kirchner who had been in power since 2003.

Fernández had feuded with bondholders, dubbing them “vultures” after they sued for full repayment in US courts.

Settling the messy dispute with creditors was a key feature of Macri’s presidential campaign, which he won on the promise of ending the country’s pariah status and opening up the economy to jumpstart growth.  

He has devalued the currency, reduced the public sector payroll by more than 20,000 posts, cut subsidies and moved to attract more foreign investment and improved relationships with the US and Europe.

While praised by international investors, his rapid reforms fuelled growing discontent at home. Within the first two months he had endured a national public sector strike as workers protested rocketing inflation and job cuts.

An International Monetary Fund analysis found Argentina’s economy is not out of the woods, with a further 1% contraction this year before returning to 2.8% growth in 2017.

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