Argentina returns to international credit markets

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina on Monday returned to global bond markets for the first time in 15 years.

The South American country announced a $10 billion-$15 billion bond issue. The proceeds will help pay a small group of holdout creditors who refused debt restructurings after Argentina suffered its worst economic crisis and defaulted on $100 billion of bonds in 2001.

The holdouts spent more than a decade litigating for payment in full rather than agreeing to provide Argentina with debt relief. They also sent lawyers around the globe trying to force Argentina to pay its defaulted debts and were able to get a court in Ghana to temporarily seize an Argentine naval training ship.

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez refused to negotiate with the creditors, often calling them “vultures.” But President Mauricio Macri campaigned last year on promises to boost the continent’s second-largest economy by putting an end to the longstanding debt dispute.

The recent repayment deal broke an impasse that had warded off investors and kept Argentina on the margins of international credit markets, forcing it to print more money that stoked one of the world’s highest inflation rates.

“We’ve finally come out of years of financial conflicts with the world,” Macri told local businessmen at a conference Monday.

Argentina’s economy minister and other officials have been meeting investors in New York and London. The new offering is expected to be priced Tuesday.