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Argentina eyes debt deal with US investors

January 12, 2016

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri said he hoped for a “reasonable agreement” with the country’s foreign creditors when he re-launches negotiations over billions of dollars of debt with U.S. investors Wednesday.

A deal with U.S. investment funds is a key aim for the market-friendly conservative president as he rolls back measures by Argentina’s former leftist government which branded the investors “vultures.”

In meetings in New York, Argentine officials “will say to the mediator that there has been a change here, that we have a different vision about our debts,” Macri said.

Argentina’s aim “is to cease being a non-compliant country and to resolve our pending problems,” he told a news conference.

He said he hoped for a “reasonable agreement” with the hedge funds NML Capital and Aurelius.

Macri’s predecessor Cristina Kirchner had refused to negotiate with the “vultures.”

She used that term to refer to bondholders who declined to take part in the restructuring of Argentina’s debts after it defaulted on about $100 billion in 2001.

The vast majority of creditors took large write-downs of their bonds in the restructure.

In 2012, the holdouts won the backing of a New York district court, which said Buenos Aires cannot repay any creditors without paying the holdouts first.

Macri has vowed to liberalize Argentina’s economy and open up the country more to foreign trade and investors after years of protectionism.

In a series of reforms announced days after taking office last month, he cut key export taxes and ended official controls on the peso currency.

He said that was needed to make the country competitive, but critics warned it would hurt Argentines’ purchasing power in the medium-term.

Macri said Tuesday he was satisfied with the results of the currency reform so far, which reduced by 30 percent the value of the peso against the dollar.

“We have ceased to be limited in how much we can grow,” he said.

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