June 12, 2020 / 5:18 PM / a month ago

Mexican president says spoke to BlackRock CEO over Argentina debt restructuring

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s president on Friday said he had spoken to BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink at the request of the Argentine government to lobby the asset management firm to accept Argentina’s offer during debt restructuring talks.

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Argentina and its biggest bondholders are at loggerheads over plans to restructure $65 billion in foreign debt, with some of the world’s biggest asset management companies negotiating with Buenos Aires.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has previously met with Fink, said Argentine President Alberto Fernandez had called him to ask him to speak to the BlackRock (BLK.N) boss and explain Argentina’s restructuring proposal.

“He knew I had a good relationship with Larry Fink,” Lopez Obrador told a news conference.

Argentina had been asking for a multi-year halt on bond payments, plus a large reduction in coupon payments.

Fernandez had an idea about how much of the debt Argentina could repay and told him the plan was “to pay 41% of the debt, a 59% reduction to reach an understanding”, Lopez Obrador added.

The president, describing Fink as a “good person”, said he spoke to the BlackRock chief to inquire if he was aware of the proposals. Fink responded it was not solely down to him and that he would propose to the board a reduction of 50-55%, he added.

BlackRock declined to comment.

Holders of Argentine debt include asset managers Amundi, Ashmore, BlueBay, Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and several hedge funds.

Lopez Obrador said he advised Fernandez that the usual recommendation was to reach a deal that would be convenient for all parties.

The deadline set by the Argentine government to negotiate the debt restructuring is due to expire later on Friday, although this week Fernandez said the deadline for the negotiations would be extended by at least 10 days.

Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez and Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Alistair Bell

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