The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ecuador wants talks to solve other "illegal" debt

* Top official says Ecuador to seek friendlier approach

* Patino says government to keep fulfilling commitments

* Patino says no need to return to debt markets now

By Alonso Soto

QUITO, June 16 (Reuters) - Ecuador will seek talks with multilateral and country lenders to deal with "illegal" debt instead of the bold strategy that led to the default of its global bonds, a top government debt strategist told Reuters.

Leftist President Rafael Correa succeeded in buying back most of the $3.2 billion in 2012 and 2030 global bonds that it defaulted on, charging that the debt was riddled with irregularities when issued by corrupt government officials.

While celebrating the buyback with dozens of supporters, Correa rekindled fears of further defaults by saying he was mulling actions to target other "illegal" debt from multilateral lenders and bilateral government loans.

However, Minister of Politics Ricardo Patino, a close Correa aide considered the architect of the country's debt overhaul, said the government will seek a friendlier approach to solve the remaining bad loans.

"Our strategy was very aggressive (with bondholders) and I think that this new strategy will be different, seeking more dialogue," Patino said in an interview late on Monday.

He declined to say if the government rules out further defaults in the bilateral and multilateral debt.

Ratings agencies have raised the Andean country's credit standing after the buyback, but warned of the administration's weak willingness to keep repaying loans.

Many analysts say it is unlikely Correa will opt to default on other debt as his government seeks financing from multilateral lenders and allied governments as the global financial crisis has hurt key exports.


Patino said investors could be confident that Ecuador will fulfill its commitments and saw no reason for the country to be kept out of the debt markets.

"Under the new rules of the game, investors can be calm because we keep our word," Patino said. "Countries that have access to financing are those that responsibly manage their finances, and we have handled our finances with responsibility.

"If it is necessary, we will return (to markets) but for the moment we have privileged relations with multilateral lenders and governments to get financing."

Correa has kept good ties with regional multilateral lenders and promised to keep paying the 2015 global bonds issued in 2005.

Ecuador holds $4.3 billion in multilateral debt, mostly owed to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Andean Development Corp. It also owes $598 million to the World Bank, which the country has criticized for its credit policies.

Quito has $1.4 billion in debt from countries ranging from Brazil to Italy.

In November, Ecuador filed an international suit to halt payment of millions of dollars in loans from Brazil, linked to a construction company expelled over contract violations. Despite Correa's apparent win in the debt default, analysts say Ecuador will have to deal with aggressive holdouts and a stigma that will keep it out of debt markets for years.

Correa could also face attacks from some investors who refused to participate. These holdouts could seek repayment via lawsuits to seize Ecuador's assets abroad, including oil shipments.

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