August 21, 2012 / 10:08 PM / 5 years ago

Moody's changes Belize outlook to negative on missed coupon

NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Moody's Investors Service on T uesday changed the outlook on Belize's ratings to negative from developing after the country missed an interest payment on its so-called superbond earlier this week.

The change in outlook comes the same day that rival agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Belize to selective default.

"Moody's estimates that the indicative scenarios released by the government on August 8 - a par bond and two discount bond options - result in bondholders absorbing losses of 70 to 80 percent in net present value terms," Moody's said in a statement.

"While this marks the beginning of a negotiation process between investors and the government, we expect the debt restructuring process to impose severe losses on investors."

Belize carries a foreign currency rating of Ca, or highly speculative, from Moody's.

Belize's government has said it has little room to negotiate on restructuring the superbond, and a senior Finance Ministry official said on Mo nday it was too early to say whether it will pay interest owed to bondholders within a 30-day grace period.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said Belize cannot afford to service the $550 million bond, which started with an interest rate of 4.25 percent but steps up this year to 8.5 percent.

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