Argentina' cabinet chief Alberto Fernandez confirmed Thursday that the coming week Venezuela will again purchase Argentine sovereign bonds for which we Argentines should, and must be fully acknowledged to President Hugo Chavez for the financial help extended.
"Every time we've needed him, he's been there. Chavez has always collaborated and purchased Argentine sovereign bonds", said Fernandez. "When the international financial organizations were not behind Argentina, he (Chavez) was always there", he added. In the last two years Venezuela has purchased 4.2 billion US dollars in Argentine dollar nominated bonds, usually at crucial moments for the President Nestor Kirchner administration, but later re-circulated most of the bonds. On Thursday and from Caracas the Venezuelan government confirmed a new bond issue jointly with Argentina, South Bonds III, but gave no details of the amount or date for the operation. Venezuela's Finance minister Rodrigo Cabezas simply told the press that the issue would be shared equally by Argentina and Venezuela. He also announced that the Chavez regime was going to help financially Byelorussia to pay pending gas bills to Russia. President Hugo Chavez is scheduled to arrive next Monday to Buenos Aires for a "few hours" official visit when several "energy agreements" will be signed with President Kirchner. Argentina had to appeal to Chavez petro-dollars because of the volatility of international money markets and the fact that investors are dumping higher risk emerging countries bonds for safer and more stable opportunities in the industrialized world. The Venezuelan operation avoids Argentina from having to tender the bonds with the risk of accepting lesser interest or higher rates. The Argentine government is repaying this Friday 2.5 billion US dollars of maturing bonds Boden 21 and needs the funds. According to Buenos Aires press reports Argentine Finance Secretary Sergio Chodos is currently in Caracas giving the finishing touches to the one billion US dollars operation which will be issued in three steps, 500 million, and two 250 million US dollars. Until volatility strongly clamped on financial markets since early June, Argentina was planning on the voluntary market to float the bond as part of an additional effort to normalize the country's relation with global financial markets. Besides Argentina's country risk has almost doubled to 450 basic points, and rates have also increased on bonds issued in pesos since they have lost between 15 and 20% value because of markets volatility. The Kirchner administration apparently is also negotiating with Venezuela that the next issue remains in banks' vaults until financial markets become calmer. The Venezuelan government usually sells the Argentine bonds to local banks at the official exchange (2.200 Bolivares to the US dollar) who then resell them at free (black) market price (4.500 Bolivares to the US dollar). However, lately banks operating in Venezuela have accelerated the sale of Argentine bonds helping to push them down even further than the average loss for emerging countries issues. As in previous operations Venezuela will be paying market price for the Argentine sovereign bonds which in the last 60 days have lost between 10 and 12%, while interest rate climbed to 11%. This is 2 to 2.5 points higher than the previous operations in April.