LONDON – A group of Mozambique bond holders formed a creditors committee on Tuesday before an expected default, but they warned they would not begin restructuring talks with the government until it provided better information about its finances.
The group, including AllianceBernstein, Franklin Templeton Investment Management and Greylock Capital, said it represented 60 percent of the holders of Mozambique’s controversial 2023 “tuna bond.” The bonds plunged after the government revealed over $2 billion of previously undisclosed debt.
“The Global Group of Mozambique Bondholders (GGMB) has been organised for the purpose of maintaining a dialogue with, and expressing the views of the bondholders to, the Mozambique government, its advisors, the IMF, other creditors, and the broader international financial community,” the group said in a statement.
“However, the GGMB and its members are firmly of the view that given the current circumstances in which there is ambiguous information and incomplete disclosure, it is premature to begin negotiations at this time.”
Other funds included in the committee are NWI Management and Pharo Management.
The group said debt-relief talks should not begin until an International Monetary Fund aid programme was in place. “Commercial creditors and bilateral official creditors” should be first in line to take any losses, it said.
In April, private bondholders agreed to swap $697 million still outstanding of a bond issued in 2013 by state tuna-fishing firm Ematum for the 2023 sovereign bond. The 2023 bond is now at the centre of the row.
“The formation of the GGMB was triggered by Mozambique’s surprise announcement on October 25, 2016 that it intends to seek a restructuring of the entirety of its external commercial debt, including the 2023 bonds that creditors agreed to restructure only six months ago,” the statement said.
Last week, President Filipe Nyusi’s government appointed risk-management firm Kroll to conduct an audit into the country’s secret debts – a condition set by the IMF to resume aid talks with the war-scarred nation.
(Additional reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Sujata Rao, Larry King)