Argentina Seeks To Force Hedge Fund Holdouts To Take Deal

May 5 2010 | 10:52am ET

Argentina is mulling a way to end nearly 10 years of legal battles over its 2002 default on US$100 billion in debt.

The country, desperate to issue $1 billion in new bonds, is exploring a strategy that could force holdouts who refuse to accept its new US$18.3 billion debt swap to eventually relent if enough holders of the debt relent. Under the strategy, Argentina would ask a court to force holdouts to take the swap, Reuters reports.

“It’s about trying to ensure that minorities taking legal action automatically have to accept the majority’s decision,” Reuters’ source said.

Among those minorities are hedge funds Elliott Management and Aurelia Capital Partners, who in recent years have won asset freezes against Argentina institutions in the U.S. over the debt default. Last year, a federal judge actually held Argentina in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to Aurelia.

Argentina’s economy minister said the country is confident that at least 60% of the current holdouts will accept that new deal.

That would reduce the country’s problem “to a small number of investors, those who seek an aggressive solution without consensus,” Amado Boudou said. “Argentina’s good faith will be perceived by the courts.”

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