Southern Exposure

Desde as Entranhas dos Labirintos Latinos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Another "revolutionary bond"

The Venezuelan Government will sell US$1 billion in a fifteen year bond in the next couple of weeks. The issue will have a coupon of between 7 and 8% will be sold only to local investors, but will be denominated in US$. Thus, in effect, it becomes a mechanism for the wealthy to purchase foreign currency at a discount. Basically, you buy the bonds at 100% in local currency at the official exchange rate, but they trade at a discount in the secondary market, since the country already has a 2018 bond with a coupon of 13.65%. As an idea, it is quite clever, in this manner you issue the bonds with a low coupon, but raise the funds anyway. However, in the end it turns out to be quite perverse (this is becoming my favorite word when I refer to the Venezuelan economy): Only the wealthy can buy, the debt is in US$, but the Government gets local currency at the official rate and moreover, somebody that wants, let's say, $1,000 does not have access to it. However, this does not stop Chavez from saying (gloating?) publicly that anyone with US$ 1,000 will be able to buy the bond next week. The truth is that since the bonds will only have a secondary market in foreign markets (none in Venezuela because the Government did not take the time and the care to create one), most foreign brokers will only trade them in large lots and, local brokers, as was the case in the 2010 bond issued in August, will only accept orders in minimum lots of $1,000. In the end though, Hugo Chavez gets the US$ 1 billion he asked the Central Bank to "give" him and the country continues to be run by the President' whims.


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