12 February 2009

Ecuador May Announce Bond Payment Decision Tomorrow

By Nathan Gill and Lester Pimentel
Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ecuador may announce tomorrow whether it will make an interest payment on its bonds due Feb. 15, Finance Minister Maria Elsa Viteri said.

Viteri, speaking at a press conference today in Quito, said the announcement may come tomorrow or Feb. 15. Ecuador has a $134 million interest payment due on its $2.69 billion of 10 percent notes maturing in 2030, according to Royal Bank of Scotland.

“I am working all day with the debt assessors, the financial and legal advisers to give the corresponding statements and working on a definitive solution to the debt,” Viteri said. “I will make the appropriate statements at the right time. Everything depends on the latest decisions that we take between today and tomorrow.”

Should Ecuador fail to make the payment, it would be the second time the country defaults on foreign debt in the last three months. In December, President Rafael Correa skipped a $30.6 million payment for the country’s 12 percent bonds due in 2012. Correa has said those securities, along with its 10 percent bonds, are “illegal” and “illegitimate.”

The yield on Ecuador’s notes due in 2030 was unchanged at 29.32 percent at 2:34 p.m. in New York, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bond’s price held at 30 cents on the dollar.

Last month, Ecuador decided to honor its 9.375 percent bond due in 2015 after invoking a 30-day grace. The government views that bond’s legality differently than that of its notes due 2012 and 2030, Viteri said last month.