Emerging markets trade group EMTA has recommended that bonds issued by Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA should be traded flat or without accrued interest, the way bonds in default are typically traded.
The move follows a similar advisory issued by EMTA on Venezuelan sovereign bonds last month and is likely to extinguish any lingering belief that Caracas might try and avoid a default by PDVSA — the source of 90 percent of Venezuela’s export revenue — to protect its key oil assets.
Venezuela is undergoing a major crisis, with quadruple-digit inflation and shortages of food and medicine. Economists consistently describe a 15-year-old currency-control system as the principal obstacle to functioning commerce and industry.
While the Venezuelan government has vowed to stay current on its debt, it has also deferred payments into grace periods and beyond. It says US sanctions are to blame for the delays.
Between its sovereign bonds and the debt of PDVSA, Venezuela is behind on more than US$1.6 billion in payments, with a good portion of it falling outside the grace periods, Japanese bank Nomura said in a recent note.
Figures from last year showed Venezuela’s government debt totaled just over $140 billion. Analysts estimate that PDVSA has around $50 billion.
Legal experts say PDVSA is vulnerable to litigation because its offshore assets could potentially be targeted by creditors.