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Argentina makes debt case in US newspapers

A young man passes by posters on a wall against the "vulture funds" in Buenos Aires on June 18, 2014

Argentina on Sunday took its battle against paying hedge fund investors in its defaulted bonds to the US media, placing adverts in major newspapers demanding US courts help foster "fair and balanced" negotiations.

The full-page ad -- which appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal -- lashes out at the "voracity" of the so-called "vulture funds."

"Paying the vulture funds is a path leading to default," says the ad from the government of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner.

"The will of Argentina is clear: we expect a judicial decision that promotes fair and balanced negotiating conditions to resolve this protracted and difficult dispute."

Last week, the US Supreme Court rejected Argentina's appeals against paying at least $1.3 billion to hedge fund investors who refused to take part in a restructuring deal for debt on which Buenos Aires defaulted in 2001.

In effect, it let stand an August 2013 ruling from US appeals court judge Thomas Griesa -- one of the targets of Argentina's fury.

The Supreme Court thus opened the way for NML Capital and others to seek immediate payment on 100 percent of the face value of the bonds they hold, even though most of the country's creditors took a huge writedown of their bonds to help the government rebuild its finances.

"The vulture funds that secured a ruling in their favor are not original lenders to Argentina," the ad says.

"They purchased bonds in default at obscenely low prices for the sole purpose of engaging in litigation against Argentina and making an enormous profit."

Buenos Aires argues that it will in fact need to pay an estimated $15 billion "in the immediate future" -- or more than 50 percent of its foreign reserves.

"This ruling seeks to put Argentina in a delicate position, but also any country that may have to undertake a restructuring of its debts in the future," the ad says.

On Friday, Griesa ordered Argentina to pay hedge fund bond holders in the United States, not Argentina -- effectively scuppering a government proposal for a debt exchange inside the country.

Buenos Aires has said it wants Griesa to set conditions for a negotiated settlement that would respect US and Argentine laws. But the judge has questioned Argentina's willingness to pay up.