What is your analysis of recent events in Venezuela?
Yerlan SYZDYKOV: President Nicolas Maduro recently announced the Republic of Venezuela’s intention to restructure all foreign debt, thus recognising the country’s current debt load as unsustainable. The nation missed a coupon for about $200ml and failed to make the payment by the end of a 30-day grace period, triggering the rating agencies downgrade to default. A meeting of the International Swaps & Derivatives Association will follow shortly to discuss whether a week-long delay on bond payments from the state oil company will trigger default-insurance contracts on those securities. We think Maduro’s move is part of a political game to increase his chances of re-election in 2018, and it follows an attempt to consolidate power by the regime, including sweeping victory in recent gobernatorial elections – despite a 21% approval rating at the time. With this political capital in hand, pushing bond payments further out, Chavismo1now turns to the debt issue. To further delay and complicate the negotiation process, the Republic invited bond holders to Caracas on 13 November to begin restructuring negotiations. The meeting was chaired by Venezuelan Vice President Tarek El Aissami. Among the attendees was the Economy Minister Simon Zerpa. who also serves as CFO of PDVSA, the state oil company. Both Mr El Aissami and Mr Zerpa have been sanctioned by the US, which inhibits US persons participating in the discussion. No specific proposals seemed to have emerged from the meeting but government officials insisted they plan to continue to service obligations.