Venezuela defaults on sovereign debt, says S&P

14 Nov 17

Venezuela has been declared in default after missing interest payments on its $60bn bond debt. 

Standard & Poor, the first agency to say the country is in default, said the government had failed to make $200m payments for global bonds due in 2019 and 2024 within the grace period that expired over the weekend.

The agency cut the country’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to selective default, or SD, from CC, and downgraded the issue ratings on the bonds to D from CC.

“Our CreditWatch negative reflects our opinion that there is a one-in-two chance that Venezuela could default again within the next three months,” said S&P.

It is the first time in recent years the Venezuela government has exceeded the buffer period on its bonds.

The $60bn in outstanding bonds includes debt issued by the government as well as by companies such as state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA).

But the country also has a total external debt thought to be as much as $140bn, including loans from countries like Russia and China.

Venezuela relies on oil exports for 95% of its foreign earnings and felt the effect of falling oil prices.

According to the BBC, the oil export earnings are just a quarter of what they were in 2012.

The government has called for renegotiation of all the country’s global debt and were due to hold a meeting on Monday with bondholders in Caracas.

No solid proposals came out of the meeting but officials said they plan to continue to service obligations.

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum said Venezuela could pull itself out of its economic struggles by re-engaging with international financial institutions and restructuring its debt. 

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