Lawyers for the Republic of Argentina and a group of bondholders managed to stop the clock Nov. 28 on a looming debt repayment that might have thrown the country into default in a mere two weeks. In response to emergency briefs filed earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed to stay a Nov. 21 order by Southern District Judge Thomas Griesa (See Profile) directing Argentina to make a $1.3 billion payment to a separate group of investors.
The circuit scheduled oral arguments for Feb. 27, quelling fears of a new Argentine debt default tied to an upcoming round of bondholder repayments on Dec. 15. The origins of the case stretch all the way back to Argentina’s $80 billion default more than a decade ago. Most bondholders eventually agreed to take about 30 cents on the dollar as part of the country’s debt restructuring, but several funds holding Argentine debt, including NML Capital Ltd and EM Capital Management, refused to exchange their debt and instead brought dozens of lawsuits against Argentina in Manhattan.
The holdout investors, which Argentina decries as vulture funds, have won $10 billion in final judgments, but Argentina has refused to pay up, even as it made regular payments to the restructured bondholders. Argentine president Christina Fernandez has vowed not to pay the funds a cent, meaning that Argentina appeared headed toward another default.