Venezuela govt says debt refinancing underway as S&P cites selective default

Ratings Agencies Cave: Venezuela Defaulted, Selectively

Venezuela's debt crunch comes as no surprise, as the government cuts back on imports to service its debt, leaving the population struggling with shortages of food and medicine.

Venezuela is buried under a $150 billion foreign debt mountain, including $28 billion owed to its biggest creditor China and another $8 billion to Russian Federation.

Venezuela's government said its plan to refinance some $60 billion in bonds was successfully underway, while a rating agency declared the nation in selective default over missed coupon payments.

Venezuela hosted a brief meeting with creditors in Caracas on Monday to discuss its total $150 billion foreign debt but the discussions ended without any agreement.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has indicated that his country was negotiating with its two allies.

About 70 percent of Venezuelan bondholders are North American, according to government figures.

"We have lowered two issue ratings to "D" (default), and we lowered the long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to "SD" (selective default)", the agency said.

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Separately, the Luxembourg Stock Exchange said it was halting trading of Venezuela's 2019 and 2024 bonds due to an "event of default".

The sanctions also impose a ban on USA entities buying any new Venezuelan debt issues, complicating the government's debt restructuring plan.

The agency said it acted after a 30-day grace period had passed on payments on two bonds.

Mr Aissami, who has been accused of drug trafficking by the USA, is himself on the list of Venezuelan individuals sanctioned by the U.S. treasury department.

"We rate this meeting, in which Venezuelan debt holders from Venezuela, the United States, Panama, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Japan and Germany participated, as highly positive and very auspicious", the statement continued.

Permanent council members Russian Federation and China boycotted the meeting, as did non-permanent members Bolivia and Egypt.