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Friday December 9th, 2022

Sri Lanka sued by holdout Hamilton Reserve, other bondholders form group

ECONOMYNEXT – More than 30 bondholders said they have formed a group to negotiate with Sri Lanka after it defaulted on its foreign debt. Still, at least one holdout has sued the country in a US court demanding payment.

Hamilton Reserve, a St Kitts and Nevis based bank, has filed suit in the Federal Court of New York Southern District, advised by lawyers Bleichmar Fonti & Auld against Sri Lanka.

Some Sri Lanka bonds, especially those issued before 2015 have ‘single series’ collective action clauses which allow one bond holder with a large position to hold out and sue for full payment.

Hamilton Reserve had built up a 250 million US dollar ‘blocking minority in a July 2022 bond which is part of a debt suspension.

Later, bonds have aggregate collection action clauses which require a large position to be held in all bonds making, holdouts more difficult.

Bonds with collective action clauses allow a large majority of bondholders to accept a settlement which is binding on all.

Sri Lanka has 12.6 billion US dollars of bonds.

Sri Lanka defaulted on foreign debt in April 2022 after seven years of aggressive macro-economic policy involving monetary and fiscal stimulus to close an ‘output gap’.

Sri Lanka has hired Clifford Chance and Lazard as legal and financial advisors to restructure its foreign debt.

The Clifford Chance team is being headed by London-based partner, Deborah Zandstra, who has advised Argentina, the legal news portal law.com has reported said.

Other bondholders have formed a steering committee made up of Amundi Asset Management, BlackRock Eaton Vance Management, Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC, HBK Capital Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Neuberger Berman, T. Rowe Price Associates Inc, and Wellington Management, legal advisors White and Case LLC said in a statement.

Rothschild & Co is the financial advisor for the group.

The bondholders said they welcomed the “ongoing engagement with the International Monetary Fund (the “IMF”) and encouraged the authorities to formulate and implement a package of meaningful reforms and fiscal adjustments to restore the conditions for sustainable and inclusive growth and support the long term prosperity of Sri Lanka.”

“The Group is ready to interact swiftly with the authorities and the IMF to help achieve a timely resolution of Sri Lanka’s debt-related challenges.

“To this end, the Group expects that the forthcoming process will be conducted in a manner consistent with the G20-endorsed Principles for Stable Capital Flows and Fair Debt Restructuring, which emphasise transparency, good faith negotiations and fair treatment among creditor classes.” (Colombo/June22/2022)

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Sri Lanka bond yields end higher, kerb dollar Rs370/371

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bonds yields ended up and the T-bills eased on active trade on Friday, dealers said.

The US dollar was 370/371 rupees in the kerb.

“The bond rates went up, however more interest was seen in the short term bills by the investors” dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.90/32.20 percent on Friday, up from 31.25/70 percent at Thursday’s close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 30.30/31.30 percent steady from 30.30/31.00 percent.

The three-month T-bills closed at 30.75/31.30 percent, down from 32.00/32.25 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar unchanged.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers between 371.78 and 372.00 for small transactions, data showed.

Buying rates are between 361.78 – 362.00 rupees. (Colombo/Dec 09/2022)

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Foreign minister, US ambassador discuss future assistance to crisis-hit Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT — In a meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung discussed ways in which the United States can continue to support Sri Lanka going forward, the Ambassador said.

Chung tweeted Friday December 09 afternoon that the two officials had reflected on the “twists and turns” of 2022, at the meeting.

Minister Sabry was recently in Washington D.C. where he US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A foreign ministry statement said the two officials held productive discussions at the Department of State on December 02 on further elevating bilateral relations in diverse spheres, including the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations which will be marked in 2023.

Incidentally, Sri Lanka also celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence from the British in 2023, and President Ranil Wickremesinghe has given himself and all parties that represent parliament a deadline to find a permanent solution to Sri Lanka’s decades-long ethnic issue.

The US has been vocal about Sri Lanka addressing concerns about its human rights record since the end of the civil war in 2009 and was a sponsor of the latest resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Unlike previous resolutions, this year’s iteration makes specific reference to the country’s prevailing currency crisis and calls for investigations on corruption allegations.

In the lead up to the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Minister Sabry Sri Lanka’s government under then new president Wickremesinghe does not want any confrontation with any international partner but will oppose any anti-constitutional move forced upon the country.

On the eve of the sessions on October 06, Sabry said countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, who led the UNHRC core group on Sri Lanka, are greatly influenced by domestic-level lobbying by pressure groups from the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.

These pronouncements notwithstanding, the Wickremesnghe government has been making inroads to the West as well as India and Japan, eager to obtain their assistance in seeing Sri Lanka through the ongoing crisis.

The island nation has entered into a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended fund facility of 2.9 billion dollars to be disbursed over a period of four years, subject to a successful debt restructure programme and structural reforms.

Much depends on whether or not China agrees to restructure Sri Lanka’s 7.4 billion dollar outstanding debt to the emerging superpower. Beijing’s apparent hesitance to go for a swift restructure prompted Tamil National Alliance MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam to warn of possible “go home, China” protests in Colombo, similar to the wave of protests that forced the exit of former pro-China President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The TNA will be a key player in upcoming talks with the Wickremesinghe government on a solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

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India smogs out Sri Lanka’s China tower observers

 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Lotus Tower has halved visitors to its observation deck an official said as dirty air flowing from India triggered air quality warnings and schools in the capital closed.

“Masks are mandatory at the observation deck and roughly around 50 to 60 can go up to the observation deck at a time, time limits have not been altered and still persists at 20 minutes for observation,” the official told EconomyNext.

Prior to the smog, 120 observers were permitted at once to the deck.

However, even after limitations the Lotus Tower has continued to draw visitors, and revenues are coming in, the official said.

The tower built with a Chinese loan by the cash rich Telecom Regulatory Commission has been described by critics as a white elephant that eats the money earned from telecom operators mainly as spectrum fees.

Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) said India air heavily polluted with particulate matter was flowing across the island into a depression in the South West Bengal Bay. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)

 

 

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