Elliott Seeks To Ground Argentine Satellite Launches

Mar 26 2014 | 10:43am ET

A year-and-a-half after it briefly seized an Argentine naval vessel, Elliott Management has come up with a fitting sequel, seeking to keep the debt-ridden country’s space dreams grounded.

The hedge fund, which has won several court rulings ordering Argentina to pay it in full for the defaulted bonds it owns, yesterday sued Argentina and a California satellite company, seeking to block Argentina’s plan to launch two satellites beginning next year. Elliott argued that the launch contracts are commercial properties unaffected by sovereign-immunity laws and can be seized to cover part of the $1.7 billion the hedge fund is owed.

“Given that Argentina has systematically refused to pay its judgments, obey U.S. court orders, or even talk to its creditors, this effort to enforce judgments against Argentina is right and necessary, and we look forward to presenting our case,” Robert Cohen, a lawyer for Elliott’s NML Capital, said.

Argentina has vowed never to pay the hedge-fund holdouts from its 2002 default, investors it calls “vultures.” The two sides are awaiting word as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Argentina’s appeal of adverse lower-court rulings.

Argentina’s National Space Activities Commission has contracted with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, to launch two satellites at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first launch is scheduled for next year, the second for 2016.

Elliott won the impounding of the Argentine navy’s flagship in Ghana for nearly three months in late 2012, before a United Nations court ruled in the country’s favor.

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