The main world representatives of Argentine defaulted sovereign bond holders founded this week in Rome an international committee with the target of recovering their investments.
"We're open to negotiations with the Argentine government; we represent 26 billion US dollars in bonds, almost half the outstanding Argentine sovereign bond debt", said Italian bondholder's representative Nicola Stock during a press conference held in the offices of the Italian Banks Association. To belong to the group members must not have initiated legal actions against Argentina.
The "Global Committee of Argentine Bondholders", GCAB, as the group is identified, is made up of 450,000 small bond holders assembled in the Task Force Argentina; Argentina Bondholders Committee made up of sixty US and EU banks; Japanese banks Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Shinsei, and the Austrian-German investors of the Argentine Bond Restructuring Agency.
Deutsche Bank, DZ Bank, the Swiss Association of Banks and the Banks Association of Ticcino were also present in the meeting as observers.
The meeting was in response to the Argentine government's announcement of a formal registry of holders of Argentine sovereign bonds, even those in arrears, beginning January 12, 2004.
Argentina defaulted in December 2001 and last September 2003 proposed a 75% reduction in the face value of sovereign bonds.
"We're not going to respond to the Argentine government registering proposal since they have all the necessary information", indicated Mr. Stock.
For weeks now the IMF and the Interamerican Development Bank have been pressing Argentina to repay bondholders the whole value of their investments.
Mr. Stock said the main purpose of the group was to elaborate a global negotiation strategy so avoiding splits in the GCAB, and further on invited the Argentine government to sit and negotiate now "that they have a valid interlocutor".
"Today we're sending a letter to the Argentine government in Buenos Aires to begin negotiations as soon as possible, be it in Rome, New York or Buenos Aires. Even when we've decided to avoid litigation, we're not going to remain as fools", emphasized Mr. Stock. GCAB will be meeting in a month time for a first operational assessment.
According to GCAB that will negotiate as a single creditor, Argentina's outstanding sovereign bonds total between 54 and 55 billion US dollars.