Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 09:44 UK

Argentina launches new debt deal

Argentina President Cristina Fernandez
President Fernandez has promised to clear Argentina's debts

Argentina plans to launch a new debt swap, which it hopes will end a long-running saga that started from a massive default eight years ago.

Latin America's third-largest economy is trying to rebuild its reputation with international investors and sell bonds to raise money.

It wants to buy $20bn in outstanding defaulted bonds held by investors who refused a previous offer in 2005.

Argentina defaulted on $95bn of bonds in 2001, a record amount at the time.

Since the 2001-2002 economic crisis, Argentines have seen a president chased through the streets by rioting mobs and seven subsequent presidents come and go.

But Argentina's economy has recovered relatively strongly. The country wants to raise at least $1bn in fresh capital.

Steep discount

President Cristina Fernandez's predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, had restructured most of the debt, and repaid money borrowed from the International Monetary Fund.

Economy Minister Amado Boudou said investors would have to take losses of at least 65% to enter the new swap, an even deeper discount than what was offered in 2005.

The 2005 offer was accepted by some 75% of bondholders who owned the defaulted debt.

"The proposed transaction is certainly a win-win for Argentina and investors alike," said Robert Koenigsberger, a managing partner at hedge fund Gramercy Advisors, which holds a lot of Argentine debt.

"The market environment for a deal such as been contemplated will have a very high level of participation."

Last year, Ms Fernandez pledged to repay the entire $6.7bn of defaulted debt still owed to foreign governments.

She said Argentina would use about one-sixth of the nation's reserves to pay the debt.

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