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Freitag, 26. Mai 2017

nvestors and lawyers are also counting on support from the German government. “There are possibilities, for example, through the ministry of foreign relations or the ministry of economics,” Mr. Liebscher said.

ARGENTINA'S DEBT

Sixteen Years and Counting

General Views Of The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange
Argentina has been welcomed back onto the global debt markets but still owes money to bond holders. Source: Bloomberg
German lawyer nn is nothing if not determined. He is fighting on behalf of 100 private German investors who are still waiting to be repaid after buying Argentine government bonds in the 1990s. These investors are owed in the region of €100 million, or $112 million.
After Argentina went bankrupt in 2001, it stopped all interest and reimbursement payments. In 2005, the country proposed a hard debt restructure in which investors had to write off two-thirds of their money.
Some investors, like the clients of Mr. nn, didn’t agree to this debt restructure. Because the bonds were issued under German law, they successfully sued for full repayment in the German courts. Argentina, however, didn’t feel obliged to adhere to the ruling.
Mr. nn has even tried to seize Argentinian government property. A 2009 exhibition, “Dinosaurs – Giants in Argentina” attracted a record numbers of visitors to a museum in the Bavarian town of Rosenheim. It also attracted the attention of Mr. nn. He wanted to repossess the reconstructed skeleton of the “Argentinosaurus” – one of the largest known dinosaurs, but his request was blocked by the authorities.
Investors find themselves stuck between international law and capital market law. They feel stood up by Argentina.
Argentina’s attitude toward repayment didn’t change until the conservative Mauricio Macri became Argentina’s president in 2015. His government reached deals with foreign investors who hadn’t agreed to the 2005 proposal. These investors received 150 percent of the original face value of their bonds.
And so in 2015 and 2016, Argentina paid out billions to creditors such as US hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who bought the bonds dirt cheap and took legal steps to force the full payment of the debt. Many German creditors have also now received their money, while Argentina has returned to the global debt markets.
The country’s main stock index, Merval, has increased by more than 70 percent over the past 12 months. In April, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s upgraded Argentina’s long-term creditworthiness from B- to B. The only problem for Mr. nn clients and several hundred other investors: they haven’t benefited from any of it.
The 150 percent repayment offer is also valid for their bonds, but the South American country has failed to schedule court dates during which investors could accept that offer. Bonds totaling €500 million to €1 billion have yet to be repaid, according to lawyer estimates.
Those investors find themselves stuck between international law and capital market law. They feel stood up by Argentina.
For Rüdger Böhm (not his real name), one of Mr. nn clients, the situation has become a tedious routine. Every other week, Mr. Böhm dials the now-familiar number of Argentina’s finance ministry. He doesn’t speak any Spanish and the Argentine clerk can only manage broken English. Nevertheless, they understand each other because Mr. Böhm always asks the same question: “When will I get my money?”
“We always hear the same thing, ‘We need more time’ – we are always getting put off.”
nn, Lawyer for German investors
Mr. Böhm invested 440,000 Deutsche marks, nowadays worth around €220,000, in Argentine government bonds in 1996. He has already taken legal proceedings to ensure that his claims won’t be subject to any statute of limitations. Now he wants to accept Argentina’s repayment offer. But this has proved far from straightforward.
To do so, Mr. Böhm would have to bring his bonds to an Argentine representative, who would sign off on the agreement and transfer 150 percent of the original value – around €330,000. In return, he would have to waive his right to enforce the original court ruling he won, which awarded him €577,000. “In my opinion, it’s no problem to make that happen,” Mr. nn said. Argentina simply needs to hire notaries and trustees to execute the transaction.
“But we always hear the same thing, ‘We need more time’ – we are always getting put off,” Mr. nn said. “Argentina is not getting it together,” Berlin lawyer Marc Liebscher, who also represents investors, confirmed.
Mr. Böhm considers it to be a strategic move by the Argentinian authorities. The economics department of the Argentinean embassy in Berlin didn’t respond to Handelsblatt’s request for comment.
The only people affected by this are those who have a physical paper copy of their bond. “Everybody else received their money,” Mr. nn said. Part of the trouble has to do with the lawsuit against Argentina. To prove that he is a creditor, Mr. Böhm has to present the original paper bond in court.
But because the bonds have a writ of execution on them, Clearstream, the clearing house owned by the German Stock Exchange, is refusing to take them back, which means they aren’t part of Mr. Böhm’s deposit account any more. “If Clearstream does not take the bonds back, then they can’t be traded any longer,” Mr. nn said.
Even investor advocates have no idea what to do. “We can’t understand Clearstream’s argumentation,” said Thomas Hechtficher, head of the DSW shareholder association. Clearstream declined to comment.
Investors and lawyers are also counting on support from the German government. “There are possibilities, for example, through the ministry of foreign relations or the ministry of economics,” Mr. Liebscher said.

Jakob Blume is a Handelsblatt correspondent based in Frankfurt. To contact the author: blume@handelsblatt.com

Despite Right-Wing’s ‘Economic War,’ Venezuela Considers Debt Repayment Options


    • Venezuela

      Venezuela's Oil Minister Nelson Martinez talks to journalists after a meeting in Vienna, Austria May 24, 2017. | Photo: Reuters




    Each year Venezuela services it debts, debunking ongoing myths that the country is consistently on the verge of a default.

    Venezuela’s Oil Minister Nelson Martinez said Thursday that he is reviewing several options to pay the country's debt, as the country grapples with a deep recession, low oil prices and a political crisis marked by sometimes violent protests.
    "We are looking forward to solving the issue of the debt," Martinez said, at a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. "We are looking at all options, some financial support through bonds and so on."
    According to Thomson Reuters IFR, Venezuela has US$66.28 billion in outstanding debt issued by the government and other state entities, such as oil company PDVSA, which has been particularly hard-hit by the economic crisis.
    Private media in Venezuela has long published misinformation about Venezuela’s debt, continuously pushing the false narrative that the government is prone to defaulting on its bonds. However, each year Venezuela services it debts, debunking myths that the country is on the verge of a default.
    This is just one part of the right-wing opposition's larger plan to discredit and destabilize the government. Last month, the right-wing head of Venezuela's National Assembly, Julio Borges, sent more than a dozen letters to major international banks asking them not to carry out transactions with the Venezuelan government in order to block the administration of President Nicolas Maduro from receiving financing, the Associated Press reported.
    Borges warned the banks that they should be worried about their reputation if they support Maduro with financing in his bid to revitalize the economy.


    Dienstag, 23. Mai 2017

    Auch eine form der eisernen hand

    Auch eine form der eisernen hand


    Was will uns diese Sandsteinfigur sagen ?

    Was will uns diese Sandsteinfigur sagen ?


    Russia to Export 60,000 Tons of Wheat to Venezuela per Month

    Russia to Export 60,000 Tons of Wheat to Venezuela per Month

    Puebla, Mexico, May 19, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday his government had secured a major wheat deal with Russia.
    “We are ready, all … trade agreements have been already signed and very soon Russia will supply Venezuela with 60,000 tonnes of wheat per month on a stable basis starting from this year," Maduro said, according to state media outlet AVN.
    The import agreement could be a major lifeline for Venezuela, which for years has struggled with food scarcity. Venezuela imports the overwhelming majority of its basic foods. According to Russian government estimates, last year Venezuela imported around 120,000 tons of grain from the US and Canada. These imports have long been controversial, with the US agricultural sector being dominated by genetically modified (GMO) crops. Venezuela banned GMO crops in 2016. Along with Venezuela, Russia is one of a handful of countries that have likewise almost entirely banned GMO crops. Around 0.01 percent of Russian crops are GMO, according to the country’s food and agricultural authorities.
    Maduro dubbed the new deal with Moscow a “win-win”, before describing Russia as a “moral and political giant”.
    In exchange for the wheat imports, five new companies will be established in Venezuela to manufacture Russian industrial vehicles.
    The deal was announced after a phone conversation between Maduro and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. According to Russian state media outlet Tass, the two leaders discussed how to deepen ties between their countries.
    PUBLISHED ON MAY 19TH 2017 AT 12.56PM

    Sonntag, 21. Mai 2017

    Reuters: !!! // Detentions of oil cargoes have been unusual because creditors rarely have sufficiently detailed information on tanker movements to obtain timely court orders. Venezuela also tends to ensure that any cargoes that leave its ports legally belong to the clients rather than to PDVSA, meaning they are rarely in a position to be seized.


    REFILE-Despite alliance, Russian shipper holds Venezuela oil hostage over debts


    (Refiles to delete extraneous word in paragraph 9)
    By Brian Ellsworth and Marianna Parraga
    Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA, sent a tanker in October to the Caribbean with the expectation that its cargo of crude would fetch about $20 million - money the crisis-stricken nation desperately needs.
    Instead, the owner of the tanker, the Russian state-owned shipping conglomerate Sovcomflot, held the oil in hopes of collecting partial payment on $30 million that it says PDVSA owes for unpaid shipping fees.
    Despite a longstanding alliance between Venezuela and Russia, Sovcomflot sued PDVSA in St. Maarten, a Dutch island on the northeast end of the Caribbean.
    "The ship owners ... imposed garnishment on the aforementioned oil cargo," reads a March decision by the St. Maarten court.
    Five months after crossing the Caribbean, the NS Columbus discharged its cargo of crude at a storage terminal on St. Eustatius, an island just south of St. Maarten, under a temporary decision by the court. Another tribunal in England will decide if Sovcomflot will ultimately take the oil.
    The dispute, which is being heard by the United Kingdom Admiralty Court, highlights how shipping companies are becoming increasingly aggressive in pursuing PDVSA's debts.
    It also shows that political allies such as Russia are losing patience with delinquent paymentsfrom Venezuela, whose obsolete tankers are struggling to export oil and even to supply  fuel to the domestic market.
    PDVSA also owes millions of dollars to Caribbean terminals - including the one in Saint Eustatius, which is owned by U.S. NuStar Energy, according to a PDVSA executive and an employee at one of the facilities.
    NuStar and a lawyer representing subsidiaries of Sovcomflot declined to comment. The Russian conglomerate did not respond to requests for comment.
    PDVSA did not respond to written questions regarding its tanker fleet or its debts to shipping companies.
    PDVSA's tangled web of payment disputes now spans the globe, from unpaid shipyards in Portugal and half-built tankers in Iran and Brazil to the seized cargo in tiny St. Eustatius, whose strategic location in the Caribbean made it an 18th century colonial-era trading hub.
    DEBTS TO RUSSIA
    The oil price crash starting in 2014 hit Venezuela particularly hard. Once a paradise of oil-fueled consumption, the OPEC nation is now a Soviet-style economy of empty supermarket shelves and snaking food queues.
    Russia has consistently supported President Nicolas Maduro with financing arrangements and oilfield investments. State-run oil firm Rosneft has lent money to PDVSA since 2016 and last month was in talks to help PDVSA make a hefty bond payment, according to Venezuelan government and banking sources.
    But problems had been brewing for months between Venezuela and Sovcomflot, which provides about 15 percent of vessels that PDVSA charters to ship crude to its clients amid a steady deterioration of its own fleet, according to a captain and two shipbrokers working with PDVSA.
    Debts to Sovcomflot had by 2016 swelled enough that company's top brass complained in person to PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino in the Russian city of Sochi, according to source from PDVSA's trade department with knowledge of the meeting.
    Del Pino agreed to a payment schedule proposed by his trade and fleet executives and accepted by Sovcomflot, the source said. But PDVSA - saddled with heavy bond payments and billions of dollars in unpaid bills to oilfield services providers - was unable to make sufficient payments to avoid Sovcomflot's unusually public debt-collection gambit.
    A PDVSA representative denied that Del Pino was confronted by Sovcomflot in Sochi, saying the account was false, without elaborating.
    Detentions of oil cargoes have been unusual because creditors rarely have sufficiently detailed information on tanker movements to obtain timely court orders.
    Venezuela also tends to ensure that any cargoes that leave its ports legally belong to the clients rather than to PDVSA, meaning they are rarely in a position to be seized.
    The Sovcomflot dispute was different in that the creditors are the tanker owners. Although the crude onboard the NS Columbus had already been sold to Norway's Statoil, the cargo was being carried in a tanker navigating with a bill of lading under PDVSA's name, according to two inspectors and a representative of one of the companies involved.
    Statoil declined to comment.
    (Additional reporting by Walter Hellebrand in St. Eustatius, Jonathan Saul in London, Juliana Castilla in Buenos Aires and Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Brian Thevenot)

    Putin’s Plan In The South China Sea

    Putin’s Plan In The South China Sea

    Putin
    Russia’s policies regarding the South China Sea (SCS) dispute are more complex than they might seem. Moscow’s official position presents Russia as an extra-regional actor with no stakes in the dispute. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russia “had never been a participant of the South China Sea disputes” and considers it “a matter of principle not to side with any party.” However, behind the façade of formal disengagement is Russia’s military build-up in the Asia-Pacific region, and the multi-billion dollar arms and energy deals with the rival claimants. These factors reveal that even though Moscow may not have direct territorial claims in the SCS, it has strategic goals, interests, and actions that have direct bearing on how the SCS dispute evolves.
    One-fourth of Russia’s massive military modernization program through 2020 is designated for the Pacific Fleet, headquartered in Vladivostok, to make it better equipped for extended operations in distant seas. Russia’s military cooperation with China has progressed to the point that President Putin called China Russia’s “natural partner and natural ally.” The two countries’ most recent joint naval exercise – “Joint Sea 2016” – took place in the SCS, and became the first exercise of its kind involving China and a second country in the disputed SCS after The Hague-based tribunal ruling on China’s “nine-dash line” territorial claims. However, Russia’s relations with Vietnam are displaying a similar upward trend: Russia-Vietnam relations have been upgraded to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” comparable to the Russia-China relationship. Russia and Vietnam are developing joint gas projects in the SCS, and Moscow also is trying to return to the Cam Ranh naval base and to sell Hanoi advanced weapon systems that enhance Vietnam’s defense capabilities.
    Moscow’s actual behavior, therefore, hardly conforms to the neutrality of its official statements. The simultaneous enhancements of military cooperation with both Beijing and Hanoi – two of the major direct disputants in the SCS – make Russia’s intentions hard to interpret, and require a more holistic framework that encapsulates different levels of Russia’s foreign policy interests.Related: Attack On Syria: U.S. Has Returned To “Business As Usual”
    Great powers play multi-level foreign policy games that may overlap in specific issue-areas. For Russia, the SCS issue is where two levels of its policies – systemic anti-hegemonic balancing and non-systemic regional hedging – intersect.
    The first level – systemic balancing – is driven by the global power distribution and perceptions of major threats. As a systemic balancer, Russia challenges the U.S.-led unipolarity in multiple ways, as evidenced by its policies in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. The drive to balance the system leader (the United States) makes Russia seek alignment with China, which, like Russia, also challenges American unipolar dominance and perceives the U.S. “Pivot to Asia” as a major threat to its security. Thus, Russian and Chinese assessments of external threats coincide in that both countries consider U.S. policies – NATO’s eastward expansion in the Russian case and the “Pivot to Asia” in the Chinese case – threatening. The pressure originating from the U.S.-led international system, and the resultant incentives to resist it, generate a strong bottom line that pushes Russia and China together. From this perspective, the SCS for Russia is a part of a bigger global game that dictates that Russia does not go against China’s interests, but rather provides some tacit, if not open, support.

    The second level – regional hedging – is motivated by domestic and regional considerations and materializes in a combination of policies aimed at diversifying Russia’s regional links and averting potential instability that could affect Russia’s economic interests in the Asia Pacific. It also heads Moscow’s commercial desire to profit from energy, infrastructure, and arms deals. By strengthening connections with Hanoi, including arms exports, military-technical cooperation, and joint energy projects, Moscow creates a more balanced power-and-interest configuration around the SCS, and simultaneously diversifies its portfolio of Asian partners, with Vietnam also serving as an inroad to the ASEAN community. This explains why Russia, while not opposing China’s policies, also appears sympathetic towards Vietnam’s concerns in the SCS. The intersection of the two levels creates the intrinsic ambiguity of Russia’s SCS policies.
    The main implication of this “two-level game” is that the nature of the SCS dispute for Russia, as well as Russia’s corresponding policy responses, is a variable rather than a constant: the more the SCS dispute deviates from a regional issue of sovereignty into the realm of China-U.S. confrontation, the more Russia’s behavior in the region carries the features of anti-unipolar balancing. Conversely, the less the United States is involved, the more Russia’s policies in the area remain aloof from the system-level balancing and the more likely they are to carry features of regional hedging.
    So far, the aforementioned two layers of Russia’s policies in the SCS have worked well without contradicting each other:
    Vietnam has benefited from cooperation with Russia not only because such cooperation is valuable in its own right, but also because given the closeness of China-Russia relations, it provides an extra gateway for improving relations with China, which Hanoi values. Unlike relations with the United States, partnership with Russia provides Vietnam with needed access to advanced arms and energy technologies while simultaneously helping to avoid being locked between the hammer and the anvil of China-U.S. competition. Plus, Hanoi has a lot of experience using Russian arms and military equipment.Related: Why Oil Markets Are Not Recovering Much Faster
    Russia’s policies also resonate with Beijing’s strategic calculations. While the Russia-Vietnam strategic partnership with its strong military component may look anti-China, in reality it works for Beijing’s interests because it helps to prevent the consolidation of a Hanoi-Washington alliance. While being unhappy about Russia’s arms transfers to Vietnam, Beijing recognizes that a decline or termination of such transfers would result in Hanoi shifting from its current policy of diversifying military contacts, to a stronger lean towards Washington; this shift would close the U.S.-led containment ring around China. Therefore, despite the emphatic resistance against the internationalization of the SCS dispute, Beijing accepts Russia’s greater involvement as well as Russia-Vietnam military cooperation.
    Russia, by engaging both China and Vietnam, realizes its regional and global goals. It increases its stake in the Asian balance of power, slows down the U.S.-Vietnam entente, and shapes the SCS dispute so that there is more room for multilateral negotiations. For Russia, maintaining the status quo, however imperfect it is, is better than dealing with a victory of one party over another.
    By Centre for Security Studies