Venezuela narrowly escaped a debt default this week after making a last-minute payment on a $1.2-billion bond that was due last Thursday. The payment, to the tune of $842 million, was received by bondholders on Wednesday, a day before the deadline for another debt payment, of $1.12 billion.
Bondholders are on edge as Caracas and PDVSA have been late to pay several earlier debt installments in the last couple of months and the country’s coffers are fast getting depleted. This Thursday payment, like last week’s, is particularly risky as neither of these involve a provision of a grace period of up to 30 days. In other words, if Venezuela fails to make the $1.12-billion payment, it could formally be recognized as a country in default on its debts.
Meanwhile, Russia has once again demonstrated its support for the Nicolas Maduro government by restructuring $1 billion in payables for 2017. Indeed, a demand for Caracas to repay the debt would make little sense, observers note, what with all the other debts that the government and the state-owned oil company have to meet. Instead, Russia and Venezuela will restructure the debt and delay the start of payments.
Venezuela is facing debt payments of another US$750 million in the next four weeks. The government is adamant that the country will not default on its debts, blaming bondholder concern on a smear campaign.
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