April 30, 2018 / 6:28 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Venezuela PDVSA begins interest payments on 2020 bond -sources

(Adds context, bondholder comment)

By Corina Pons and Paul Kilby

CARACAS/NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA has begun making payments towards $100 million it owes in interest on a bond maturing in 2020 to some holders, according to three sources in the financial sector.

The government began quietly halting interest payments on some $50 billion in publicly traded debt last year. At least one Venezuelan bondholder committee has hired a financial adviser, ahead of potential litigation in the face of continued breaches.

The latest payments would have reached some holders through U.S. custody firm DTC, the sources said on Monday.

PDVSA used Citgo Petroleum, its refining unit in the United States, as 51 percent collateral on the 2020 bond. Venezuela may be complying with the payment in order to avoid putting the valuable asset at risk in a potential legal battle.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has blamed financial sanctions imposed by the United States for preventing international transfers. However, the sanctions do not block routine operations such as debt payments.

Earlier this month, the government paid interest on PDVSA’s 2022 bond, which was mostly bought by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in a controversial operation last year. That transfer upset some bondholders still waiting payments.

“With the new PDVSA 2020 payment, legal action from investors in other bonds could take place,” said a holder of other Venezuelan debt who asked not to be identified. (Reporting by Corina Pons in Carcas and Paul Kilby in New York Writing by Girish Gupta Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien)

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