Ecuador finds investor support for $17.4bn debt restructuring

The president said the plan would allow Ecuador to free up resources for social programmes and restarting the economy.

People walk on a street in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which has suffered one of South America's earliest and worst COVID-19 outbreaks while the economy was hammered by low oil prices [File: Santiago Arcos/Reuters]

Ecuador said on Monday that it has won investor support to move ahead with a $17.4bn renegotiation of its foreign debt, a victory for the South American nation that has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices.

President Lenin Moreno’s government in July offered investors the chance to swap 10 existing notes for three new bonds maturing in 2030, 2035 and 2040, in efforts to save billions of dollars in debt service amid a severe cash crunch.

“The Republic announced today that, based on consents delivered as of 4:00 pm Central European Time on August 3, 2020, it had obtained the Requisite Consents to modify all series of Eligible Bonds as proposed in the Invitation,” the country said in a statement.

Moreno said via Twitter that the plan would allow Ecuador to “free up resources for social protection and the reactivation of the economy”.

The government’s plan was backed by investors holding a majority of all 10 outstanding issues, the finance ministry said. That would mean that the plan got 75 percent acceptance from the holders of 2024 bonds, which have a higher threshold.

Ecuador nonetheless said it was extending the voting for another week to allow other creditors to join the swap.

“My understanding is that they have achieved the required majorities of all bonds, including the 2024s, which was a bit surprising,” said Tiago Severo, vice president of Latin America economic research at Goldman Sachs.

“If that is indeed confirmed, it will represent an important victory for the government, including by the signal it sends ahead of the negotiations with the [International Monetary Fund].”

Ecuador’s largest creditor grouping, the Ad Hoc Group including asset managers such as AllianceBernstein, BlackRock and Ashmore, backed the plan early on.

Two other creditor groups, which include Amundi, Contrarian Capital Management and T Rowe Price Associates, have said the proposal does not go far enough.

Source: Reuters