Major Puerto Rico investor ready to defend bonds
U.S. fund manager OppenheimerFunds, the largest holder of Puerto Rico debt among U.S. municipal bond funds, warned the island it stands ready to defend the terms of bonds it holds, a day after the governor said he wanted to restructure debt and postpone bond payments.
Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla could be heading toward a fight with creditors unwilling to take reduced payouts as he tries to restructure the island’s $73 billion debt to relieve its fiscal problems.
OppenheimerFunds, with about $4.5 billion exposure to Puerto Rico according to Morningstar, said it believed the island could repay bondholders while providing essential services to citizens and growing the economy. It said it stood ready “to defend the previously agreed to terms in each and every bond indenture.”
“We are disheartened that Governor Padilla, in a public forum, has called for negotiations with other creditors, representing and including the millions of individual Americans that hold Puerto Rico municipal bonds,” a spokesman for Oppenheimer said in a statement.
Garcia Padilla said on Monday his goal was to come up with a negotiated moratorium with bondholders to postpone debt payments for a number of years.
Puerto Rico’s bonds fell sharply for a second session on Tuesday, with general obligation 8 percent bonds maturing in 2035 as low as $64.50 versus a low of $68.75 on Monday. Almost 10 percent of municipal bonds that traded Monday were Puerto Rico-related, according to Janney Capital Markets.
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