Delays in payments on Venezuela’s sovereign debt and bonds issued by state oil company PDVSA constitute a “credit event,” triggering payouts on credit default swaps (CDS), a New York-based derivatives group ruled on Thursday. The decision by a 15-member committee of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) came after credit ratings agencies S&P Global Ratings and Fitch declared President Nicolas Maduro’s government in “selective default” this week for failing to make overdue coupon payments within a grace period.
The net value of CDS – the derivative contracts investors use to protect themselves against a default – on Venezuela’s sovereign bonds is about $1.3 billion. For PDVSA, the net value is around $250 million.
The committee said it would reconvene on Monday at 3 p.m. New York time (2000 GMT) to discuss an auction that will eventually determine the amount paid out to buyers of CDS protection.
The OPEC member state, which is reeling from a four-year recession, said on Wednesday it had started transferring $200 million in interest payments on the sovereign bonds in question, which mature in 2019 and 2024.
PDVSA also said it has made the interest payment on its 2027 bond and has “successfully completed” capital payments on the 2020 and 2017N bonds.
S&P said this week that Venezuela had an additional $420 million owed in overdue coupons and that failure to pay those before their 30-day grace period expired would result in a further downgrade in ratings to “default” level.