World Economy

Venezuela Wants to Restructure Debt

According to estimates Venezuela has a debt mountain  of $150 billion.According to estimates Venezuela has a debt mountain  of $150 billion.

Crisis-hit Venezuela, seen by many investors on the threshold of default, will try to restructure its debt after its oil company makes a scheduled $1.2 billion payment, according to President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday.

“After this payment, I decree a refinancing and a restructuring of all external debt and all of Venezuela’s payments,” Maduro said in a statement broadcast on state television, AFP reported.

He said the efforts to modify reimbursement of his country’s debt pile–estimated at $150 billion–would start after Friday, when the oil company PDVSA pays the $1.2 billion in maturing bonds.

US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August, however, threaten to complicate Maduro’s ambition. They ban US trade in any new bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or PDVSA–a needed step in any restructuring.

Much of Venezuela’s debt is held by China and Russia, to be paid off in oil–the resource that underpins the Venezuelan economy. The country has less than $10 billion in foreign currency reserves.

Credit-rating agencies are increasingly warning of the risk of a Venezuelan debt default. But up to now, Maduro’s government has prioritized repayments over all other expenditure–including food and medicine imports needed as the economy deteriorates.

A default could see investors try to lay claim to PDVSA assets, including tankers, oil in shipment and subsidiaries, such as the Citgo refiner and service station network in the US.

Maduro, who has blamed the dire economic situation on political enemies and the United States, said on Thursday: “They will not asphyxiate us and we will never give in, not to the US empire and not to any empire in the world.”

The president said that, since 2014, his government has paid $71.7 billion in capital and interest.

PDVSA’s Friday payment is its second big settlement in a week, following a $842 million payment last Friday by the company to partly cover maturing 2020 bonds and interest.

According to estimates by private consultancies, Venezuela has a debt mountain of $150 billion, of which $45 billion is public debt, $45 billion is owed by PDVSA, $23 billion is owed to China, and $8 billion is owed to Russia.

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