June 25, 2020 / 1:50 PM / 14 days ago

Argentina debt talks still on, but have 'distance to cover', Guzman says

FILE PHOTO: Argentine Economy Minister Martin Guzman reacts during an interview with Reuters, in Buenos Aires, Argentina March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina is still working with its creditors to reach a debt restructuring deal after talks stalled, though there is still distance to cover in economic and legal terms, Economy Minister Martin Guzman said on Thursday.

Guzman said the government is in negotiations with two main creditor groups, though the “biggest differences” remain with the Ad Hoc Bondholder Group, which includes AllianceBernstein, BlackRock, Ashmore and others.

“It takes a lot of dialogue, we remain hopeful that it will be able to in some point reach an agreement, but clearly there is more work to do and there is a distance to cover in economic terms and in legal terms as well,” Guzman said at the webinar, hosted by Bloomberg.

Argentina last week extended a deadline for $65 billion debt restructuring talks to July 24 after negotiations with creditors reached an impasse. Creditor groups want Argentina to improve its offer, but the government has said it cannot cede ground after raising its proposal to around 50 cents on the dollar, plus an additional export-linked sweetener.

Guzman said ongoing talks with the Argentina Creditor Committee had been constructive, though issues remained to be resolved with the Ad-Hoc bondholders group, specifically around collective action clauses.

“One of the proposals we received asked Argentina to go back in time and undo the progress that has been done over the last few years, the enhanced collective action clauses endorsed by ICMA (International Capital Markets Association), the G20 and the IMF (International Monetary Fund), and that is not something that Argentina can do,” Guzman said.

A deal with creditors is key for avoiding a messy standoff with Argentina, which in May defaulted for a ninth time.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison, Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires and Rodrigo Campos in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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