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Donnerstag, 22. November 2012

Elliott Management Vs Argentina Round 3: The Showdown

Elliott Management Vs Argentina Round 3: The Showdown

Elliott Management Vs Argentina Round 3: The Showdown

Tyler Durden's picture

Most recently, in "Elliott Management Vs Argentina Round 2: Now It's Personal" we laid out the story of how in the ongoing legal fight between Argentina's prominent distressed debt creditor, and exchange offer holdout, Elliott Management (and to a smaller degree Aurelius), and distressed debtor Argentina, the moving pieces continue in flux, even as various US legal institutions have demanded that Argentina proceed with paying the holdouts despite the Latin American country's vocal prior refusals to do so, and most importantly, the lack of a sovereign payment enforcement mechanism. Last night, the fight escalate one more, and perhaps final time, before the Rubicon is crossed and Argentina either pays Elliott, "or else" the country proves all those who furiously bought up Argentina CDS in the past two weeks correct, and the country redefaults on $24 billion of debt. Because as Reuters reports, late last night, US District Judge Griesa overseeing the Argentina case, ordered the Latin American country to make immediate payment with a deadline for escrow account funding of December 15.
In an ruling delivered just as the United States headed off for its Thursday Thanksgiving holiday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa rejected Argentina's request to maintain his previous order halting payments to holdout investors who did not participate in two bond exchanges of defaulted sovereign debt.

The ruling is the latest development in a litigation saga that has lasted more than ten years and now appears to be favoring holdout bond investors such as Elliot Management Corp's NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius Capital Management.

If Griesa's ruling is upheld and Argentina chooses to defy him, U.S. courts could ultimately inhibit debt payments to creditors who accepted the terms of the restructuring, out of consideration for investors who rejected Argentina's terms at the time.

This would trigger a technical default on approximately $24 billion worth of debt issued in the 2005 and 2010 exchanges.
Griesa essentially circumvented the traditional appeals process and said no more delays.
Griesa wrote that he would ordinarily leave his order in place pending a ruling from the 2nd Circuit. However, he concluded this was not possible given comments from Argentine officials, including President Cristina Kirchner, that Argentina would not pay anything to the holdout bondholders.

"It is the view of the District Court that these threats of defiance cannot go unheeded, and that action is called for," Griesa wrote, saying the payments should be made as soon as possible.

The 2nd Circuit already upheld Griesa's Feb. 23, 2012 decision that Argentina violated equal-treatment provisions for all creditors when it chose to pay exchange bondholders and not holdout bondholders.

Given that Griesa's latest decision still needs the final blessing of the 2nd Circuit, he ordered that rather than Argentina paying the plaintiffs directly, it should deposit the money in an escrow account by Dec. 15.
In his ruling, Griesa said the less time Argentina was given "to devise means for evasion, the more assurance there is against such evasion."

"There is no question about what is 'currently due' to plaintiffs," Griesa wrote. "The amount that is currently due is the amount of the unpaid principal, the due date of which has been accelerated, and accrued interest."
The ball is now in Argentina's court. As a reminder, Argentina made it quite clear it would not pay "one dollar to the vulture funds." The vulture funds in question, are Elliott Management and Aurelius, who are owed upward of $1.3 billion. "Argentina owes this and owes it now," Griesa said. "It should be emphasized that these are debts currently owed, not debts spaced out over future periods of time." Griesa said NML and Aurelius should be paid concurrently or ahead of exchange bondholders.
And with the coupon payment due in one month, when Argentina has to pay $3.14 billion in accrued interest, we will know in a matter of weeks whether a district court's harsh language in New York is enough to make a Treasurer in Buenos Aires shiver in fear. Somehow we doubt it. Which also means Naval Commodore of His Own Majesty's Navy Paul Singer Second Rank will soon be upgraded to First Rank once he privateers a few Argentinian subs and perhaps an aircraft carrier... if any were still in service of course.
Without going into details (read Subordination 101 for the full primer), Griesa basically crushed any hopes the exchanging bondholders had that they had received priority status by being fooled into the exchange offer and accepting a price of 30 cents on the dollar:
Griesa rejected arguments from exchange bondholders that full payment to NML and Aurelius would infringe on their rights.

"In accepting the exchange offers of thirty cents on the dollar, the exchange bondholders bargained for certainty and the avoidance of the burden and risk of litigating," he wrote.

"Moreover, it is hardly an injustice to have legal rulings which, at long last, mean that Argentina must pay the debts which it owes. After ten years of litigation this is a just result," the judge said.
What is most interesting is that Griesa for the first time threatened not only Argentina but its "accomplices" i.e., funds transferring "third party" banks, with enforcement should they selectively wire funds to one group of bondholders, but not another - the hold outs.
The 2nd Circuit has also directed Griesa to spell out precisely how his injunctions would apply to third-party banks.

Among the banks is BNY Mellon, which transfers funds from Argentina to the country's bondholders. It argues that the injunction would interfere with its duties to the exchange bondholders and could cause a wider disruption to the largely automated international bank payment systems.

Griesa said BNY Mellon's arguments "miss the point" and if Argentina followed the appeals court ruling there would be "no problem" about the money ending up in the right accounts.

He said that if Argentina attempted to make payments to the exchange bondholders in violation of the court's rulings, third party institutions should be "held responsible" for ensuring they are not taking steps to violate the law.
Of course, BNY has the choice to just pull out and do no more business with Argentina and its creditors. There is always the option that creditors can come in on location in Buenos Aires and collect their interest in bags with dollars signs printed on them. Or just pull an Iran, and demand payment in gold via unsupervised gold transfer pathways, such as Turkey.... or China. If and when such a circumventing route is discovered, it will be one more chip away in the dollar's reserve status.
Finally, should Argentina not make the payment in December as loudly cautioned by Griesa, wait and see just why Elliott happens to be on the ISDA determinations committee. We anticipate that ISDA will find an Argentinia event of default will have occurred within seconds of the December coupon non-payment as the country follows Hostess into Chapter 22, only this time it is really personal between Argentina and some of the wealthiest hedge funds in the world.

Sonntag, 28. Oktober 2012

Konsequenzen für den Bondmarkt und die Holdouts nach dem pari passu Urteil des Court of Appeals // Werning JPMorgan

Konsequenzen für den Bondmarkt und die Holdouts nach dem pari passu Urteil des Court of Appeals // Werning JPMorgan

Argentina: Holdout creditors' "trick or treat" threat warrants cutting Argentina debt to MW in model portfolio

Holdout creditors score win in long awaited US Appeals Court "pari passu" ruling
Argentina likely to exhaust alternatives before considering compromise
Argentina's performing bond market can suffer further from "friendly", as well as "enemy fire"
Cut Argentina debt to marketweight in model portfolio

Hold out creditors litigating against Argentina in US courts have brought forward Halloween holiday this year. The "trick or treat" was issued via a US Appeals Court ruling which resonated negatively in bond markets. The problem for the market is that Argentina is being told to "treat" but performing debt bondholders are the potential victims of a (very nasty) "trick" if Argentina does not concede hand outs.

In this note we complete the thoughts that formed our immediate impressions in response the news of the adverse ruling for Argentina ("Argentina: Court rules pari passu—quick & dirty and negative"). In a nutshell, as we think about the details and possible scenarios our concerns over the risk this litigation poses to Argentine performing bond holders remains large.

This ruling is the key headline risk event that the market has been waiting for but the result is not what the market was expecting. Thus, it is negative for the soverign debt. Whether the risks are worth more than the $7.0-9.5 price gap in long-duration performing bonds that already transpired is the key question investors face.

We believe the market worries are unlikely to resolved for better or for worse in the near term and hence market anxiety may escalate. Given the legal complexities of the case and the fact that a politically-charged decision now lies unpredicatbly in Argentina's lap, we prefer to stay sidelined at this stage and recommend cutting Argentina exposure to marketweight (see last section below).

The ruling is very harsh, raising risks of an adverse "end game" for performing debt

With regards to the ruling there are many things to highlight. We abstract from an analyzing arguments driving the decision in depth (sufficient is to say that the Appeals Court literally trashed a laundry list of Argentina's arguments—with one caveat). The main take aways are the following:

1. The ruling AFFIRMS the judgements of the district court against based on breach of "pari passu" (i.e. issuing an opinion on the "broad" definition that serves establish precedents for sovereigns in general, not just the "narrow" definition based on argument of the "lock law" specific to Argentina).

For practical purposes, this boils down to disallowing Argentina to pay holders of restructured bonds in US territory unless it pays holdout creditors in the lawsuit (with claims worth $1.33 bn)—despite the payments are in a bondholder trust which technically means they are no longer property of Argentina. Specifically, this involves 2005 and 2010 Exchange Securities which we interpret to mean Discount, Pars, GDP Coupons and Global 17s under foreign law, which includes USD-denominated NY law and EUR denominated UK law securities; in contrast, bonds from those same exchanges but under Argentine law, irrespective of whether they are USD or ARS, are not affected as they are paid outside US jurisdiction).

2. The case is REMANDED to District Court so that two issues are clarified :(i.e. the "pro rata" formula and the injunction's application to third parties and intermediary banks) and then will be returned to Appeals court for FURTHER CONSIDERATION.

While this may generate a perception that the Appeals Court can change its mind if the District Court clarifications do not satisfy it, we doubt this is likely to happen. The pro-rata formula (while critical for all parties and potentially controversial) once defined is a technicality and it is unlikely to be scrutinized by the Appeals Court. We suspect that the clarification regarding financial intermediaries can be resolved if a definition is narrowed in a way that institutions are unaffected when they (a) are in the chain of payment for Exchange Securities that do not directly recieve proceeds from Argentina or in trust for bondholders (but caught somewhere between) or (b) involved in transactions unrelated to Exchange Securities being targeted (for example, a payment of a different bond)

3. The ruling does not mention the stays on the injunctions that the District Court concended to Argentina for the purpose of allowing it to proceed with its appeal.

The lack of reference to the 'stays' raises a valid concern that if a solution is not adopted quickly by parties involved, the District Court injunctions and the Appeals Court affirmation would already apply to upcoming coupons on Exchange Securities due in December of 2012 (Discounts and GDP warrants). The worry is that without stays a potentially defensive and hasty political response from Argentina might surface, irrespective of the collateral damage to the bond markets it may entail. However, we believe that—with the remend requested and with Argentina sure to seek a "certioari" of the US Supreme Court—it is more likely that the threatening remedies will not be enforced until the judiciary process is complete (which, given court timing, inclines us to think that December 2012 coupons will be paid as usual). In fact, Argentina's Secretary of Finance Cosentino addressed this issue in a public statement, ratifying that the "stays" are in place currently.

Next steps: The ball is Argentina's (better said, Cristina's) court

The end game in this litigation will depend on Argentina's response. Below are some thoughts on the path ahead and a lot of concerns over the political capacity of the government to find a solution that limits collateral damage to the bond market:

1. Argentina can choose abide by the Courts and settle with hold out creditors the claims. Litigation claims ($1.33 billion) can be settled without affecting Argentina's broader payment capacity (and hence the risk premium on Argentina performing bonds). Argentina can dip into its $45 billion of reserves to make the payment as it currently does for performing debt service.

However, there are economic and a political factors at play that make this unlikely: On the economic side, we note that there are a total of $6.6 billion untendered debt (litigating and non-litigating), mostly foreign law, that could "piggy back" on this ruling to demand similar compensation. And considering that Argentina's definition of claims is limited to principal (but plaintiffs could demand PDI since 2001) the liability can conceivably inflate to an figure in the neighborhood of $11-12 billion. So it is not clear that a "small" $1.3 billion payment (or some lower amount settled privately between plaintiffs and Argentina) closes the door on the issue.

Political considerations are more worrisome. In our view the alternative of settling claims with litigating investors looks like a difficult pill to swallow politically for a government that has publicly blasted the "vulture funds" as public enemy No. 1 (but not exclusively so) of the Argentine people. We give a slim chance to this unless plaintiffs accept a similar deal similar to the restructuring exchange (which allows the government an elegant exit: selling the deal publicly as one that respects the terms of its own original proposal). Yet, should plaintiffs be expected to accept such a proposal after years of litigation? We are doubtful... but we (and bond markets) would be relieved to be proven wrong.

What could trigger an surprise compromise by Argentina? Maybe, the silver lining in the YPF nationalization is that now the government has a need for the state-run oil company to raise funds that help it fulfill the investment goals the President cares about. And maybe, the government acknowledges that it must resolve litigation uncertainty in a cooperative manner to make yields attractive for YPF and make its strategy to solve the energy imbalance feasible again. But too many "maybes"—and a leap of faith that the government will readily adopt economic cost-benefit analysis over political calculation—are involved in this vision for comfort.

2. Argentina is sure to appeal (or seek "certiaori"): Argentina's public statements (from Secretary of Finance Cosentino) in response to emphasized that the latter "is not the end of litigation" making it clear that the next step is to seek a judiciary review of the ruling. What is not clear is if Argentina will appeal immediately or wait for Judge Griesa to resolve on the clarifications required by the Appeals Court.

We understand that an Appeal can be made by Argentina to an expanded Appeals Court before the sovereign would need to seek a "certiaori"  from the US Supreme Court. This again suggests that performing bond coupons are not immediately threatened. The clock on the threat to coupon payments on restructured debt starts ticking once the Supreme Court rejects the case or if it accepts it and subsequently affirms the injunctions. The Supreme Court might take 3-6 months to decide to take Argentina's appeal or reject it. So an appeal buys time and reduces the risk of a defensive and hasty response by Argentina that inflicts collateral damage.

A Supreme Court ruling could eventually overturn the Appeals Court. At the end of day, Argentina has already proven capable of doing so in other litigation also involving holdout creditors. Moreover, recall the US government did submit an Amicus Brief siding with Argentina on the (broad) interpretation of "pari passu" that might be taken into account (although the Appeals Court evidently brushed its relevance aside). Assessing those chances, however, is the subject of a different conversation that involves analyzing in detail the arguments supporting the ruling.

3. Argentina can try to re-route the payments on restructured debt: To avoid making payments in US jurisdiction Argentina might consider offering performing debt holders payment of coupons into a new offshore trust.

Legally, this is complicated to the extent that one of the orders of the judge requires Argentina not to modify its payment mechanisms for Exchange Securities. Evidently Argentina, in exercise of sovereignty, may attempt to do so anyway. Yet financial institions under NY law that facilitate such a scheme might be liable to being labeled in contempt of court and therefore Argentina would rely on other institutions to help it carry out such a plan.

But in addition, a successful execution would require solving some operational unknowns. We have heard opinions from legal experts that payment to the Trust in NY is "hard-wired" into bond contracts. If so, to re-route payments offshore (outside US) Argentina may need to carry out an exchange with current restructured debt holders. Yet an offshore payment would sacrifice US legislation and—while it is clear investors have an incentive to facilitate the payment of their coupons—it is not clear if they would rush to embrace a different legislation. Argentina can argue that a full payment in USD in Argentina should be viewed as superior to risk of payments being pro-rata in NY. But following all the noise around risk of "pesofication" we doubt all investors dependant on the BoNY trust structure have the appetite to make the gamble. A foreign non-US jurisdiction (UK?) might offer a (temporary?) shelter to continue payments but 100% participation in a swap of this kind has slim chances.

4. Argentina can unilaterally decide to set aside future coupon payments in an (offshore) trust as a display of willingness and capacity to pay, risking accusations of default. If Argentina does not want to play the cards it has been dealt within the established rules it may consider rewriting these rules in a convenient way. It might be deemed a political "face saver" to announce that it will deposit funds for Exchange Securities in a separate offshore trust that respects restructured bond holders claims but defies litigating creditors claims and US court orders to pay them pro-rata.

This option would lead to further collateral damage in bond markets. If the coupons do not reach their original destiny and the latter is truely "hard-wired" into bond contracts (as has been suggested to us) this option would likely qualify as a default. Of course, technically a formal default triggering CDS would have to be defined by market participants responsible for that process. Argentina's situation, if it chooses to stay current on restructured bonds but paying into a different trust, would at a minimum raise controversial opinions in this process. Moreover, for a CDS trade to look attractive bonds must trade at distressed prices that make them cheap to deliver and it is not clear they will if Argentina actually continues to pay the corresponding cashflows on the bonds.

Final thoughts: Any safe havens?

Unfortunately, Argentina's poor communication with markets does not provide assurance that the sovereign will (or even can) signal its strategy clearly and in a pre-emptive fashion that might help to reduce market anxiety rapidly. Thus, "pari passu" litigation will remain an overhang for the bond market.
All bonds—irrespective of currency—that are under local law and paid through mechanisms not within the jurisdiction of the NY court are spared from the "pari passu" litigation consequences. In the near term, the local law USD bonds like Bodens and Bonars have suffered  though less than foreign law bonds due to shorter duration and due to investor understanding that they can continue to be paid by Argentina without third party interference.

Argentina: Cutting overweight back to marketweight in our EMBIG Model Portfolio

We moved overweight Argentina in our EMBIG Model Portfolio on 17th September as a supportive environment post the Fed’s announcement of QE3 provided support for high spread Emerging Maket sovereign performance and we saw a cyclical lift to the domestic economy  in 2013, with ‘no news’ for a period in Argentina being good news for bond prices. Today’s 'news' from the pari passu court ruling is a negative risk we highlighted at the time and we see a period of uncertainty ahead. We entered the overweight when Argentina (global) 8.75% $ 2017s were at a price of 100.00, which was a spread to treasuries of 801bp versus the EMBIG spread then at 282bp. We take losses on this overweight and move back to marketweight given the downside risks, with current prices of Argentina (global) 8.75% $ 2017s down at 91.00/95.00 (spread to USTs of 1,053bp / 935bp as at 1.30pm US time 26th Oct).

We rebalance other positions in our EMBIG Model Portfolio to keep the overall portfolio position unchanged. Many questions remain about the next steps in this process, which is unusual in that there is potential risk to bond holder payments that is not being driven by the unwillingness or inability of the issuing government (Argentina) directly. The reaction of the government to this ruling and the next legal stages are not yet known and may turn out to delay or avoid any impacts on bond payments. This keeps from wanting to move underweight at this stage, until we have more clarity on these next steps and given the price drop already. However, we think that any bounces in bond prices will likely be sold into as investors are left with a great deal of uncertainty on the future payment process and where CDS are likely to be a price point that widens as technical triggers are focused on.

Vladimir Werning (AC)
(1-212) 834-4144
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC

Jonny Goulden
(44-20) 7134-4470
J.P. Morgan Securities plc

Known Unknowns in Pari Passu ... and More to Come posted by Anna Gelpern

Known Unknowns in Pari Passu ... and More to Come

posted by Anna Gelpern
The Friday decision in NML et al. v. Argentina has clearly shaken the sovereign universe. While I am normally more prone to panic than Felix Salmon or Vladimir Werning, these wise folks reasonably point out that the decision may spell the End of the World for sovereign immunity, sovereign debt as we know it, etc. "May" is the operative word in my view. We need more information and analysis (stay tuned) before we dash for the bunker.
Yes, it looks like previously unenforceable sovereign debt has suddenly become more enforceable. Zero to something. But how much? It depends on too many things to know for sure. Will the Second Circuit rehear the case en banc? Will the U.S. Government and those who sat on the sidelines in this round -- the IMF, the Federal Reserve, more intermediary banks -- pipe in? Will SCOTUS take the case? Will Judge Griesa pare back the effect of the injunction if Elliott wins the appeals? Vladimir is right that this will not go away. But we really do not know enough about what "this" is to say much more than that. We have a Second Circuit opinion that seems to disdain its own implications, and some history of SCOTUS slapping down Argentina when the U.S. Government was on the other side. Go figure. Ask your favorite court maven (I will).
Yes, Argentina's CDS have gone through the roof, correctly reflecting immense uncertainty about the near future of its foreign bond stock. But I doubt that either the courts or the policy establishment would find this fact compelling. Argentina has been a headache for too many for too long to elicit sympathy. What I really want to know -- consistent with the thrust of the U.S. brief -- is whether other sovereign and sovereign CDS spreads are  going nuts, and if yes, which ones. The way Argentina wins here is by invoking the good of the system without overclaiming. No mean feat.
Yes, we seem to have a damagingly broad interpretation of pari passu out of the Second Circuit. Does it mean that a prospectus warning holdouts they might not get paid amounts to a subordination in violation of the pari passu clause, at least versions similar to Argentina's? Maybe. Will foreign courts adopt the Second Circuit's reading, exposing countries such as Italy to Argentina-scale uncertainty? Yikes. For what it's worth, this is where I feel most comfortable being worried. I will be looking for more data on just how many other countries have vulnerable formulations of the clause.
All this to say, there is a big difference between "mostly dead" and "all dead". And I suspect that Argentina -- and more so the broader universe of sovereign debt and sovereign immunity -- is "mostly dead" as far as pari passu goes. For now.

Argentina Lost! Elliott Won! Pari Passu Rules! (... or Why I Love Being a Law Professor ...)

Argentina Lost! Elliott Won! Pari Passu Rules! (... or Why I Love Being a Law Professor ...)

posted by Anna Gelpern
The pointy-head caucus can exhale -- the Second Circuit ruled on the pari passu drama, and it did not go as I had expected. Not only did the court rule against Argentina, but it did so on relatively broad grounds, giving a fair amount of meaning to a massively indeterminate bit of Latin, and ignoring the practical challenges of enforcing the ruling. The judges upheld the injunction directing Argentina to pay holdout creditors who refused to participate in its 2005 and 2010 debt exchanges whenever it services the new bonds that came out of the exchange. Ironically, the opinion acknowledged that it was impossible to figure out what proportionate payment would mean under the circumstances, but chucked the question back at the lower court. The judges also remanded the question of how exactly one might enforce this injunction without attaching sovereign property abroad or dragging in third parties (New York banks moving Argentina's money), despite the fact that the holdouts admitted in court that their next step would be to go after the banks on aiding and abetting theories.  But these are all questions for another day. Between this ruling and the Ghana boat mess, October 2012 will go down as a heady month for Elliott and its kind.
Here are my main take-aways so far:
  • The court did not anchor its interpretation of the pari passu clause in Argentina's Lock Law, which bars the government from paying the holdouts, though the law got plenty of play. This was both risky and smart. It was risky because the court's reasoning might be construed to suggest that securities disclosure telling prospective holdouts that they would not be paid was tantamount to payment subordination. It was smart because a decision based solely on the Lock Law could be made moot by its repeal. I bet the "Risk Factors" sections of sovereign prospectuses are getting a close read just now.
  • The court adopted wholesale Elliott's reading of Argentina's two-part pari passuclause --    "[t]he Securities will constitute . . . direct, unconditional, unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the Republic and shall at all times rank pari passu without any preference among themselves. The payment obligations of the Republic under the Securities shall at all times rank at least equally with all its other present and future unsecured and unsubordinated External Indebtedness ..." (court's emphasis) -- effectively to punish Argentina for payment discrimination, whether or not it had subordinated the securities themselves. This is a big deal for two reasons.
    • First, violating the pari passu clause just got much easier, though I am not sure how far we can take the implications. Would missing a payment to one creditor while paying another amount to a distinct violation, and give the aggrieved creditor specific performance? This will depend on the precise wording of the clause, but the range of possibilities is considerably wider.
    • Second, contract drafters have a great new reason to let go the boilerplate schtick. Of course no one will start drafting each word from scratch. But this panel's textualist reading, interpretation technique straight out of Contracts textbooks, and its skepticism of Argentina's evidence on market custom, should jolt the contract production process. Not all bad.
  • The U.S. government got no love whatsoever. This could be because of the United States' awkward position of avoiding the Lock Law (still the right thing to have done, in my view), its pale oral argument, or because the opinion seemed determined to bracket its enforcement and policy implications. The goal  was to bolster contracts and punish very bad debtors. So what if there is no way of enforcing the injunction without grabbing offshore property or New York banks--we are just telling Argentina what to do. So what if Greece has holdouts--its contracts are not under New York law. So what if the reading seems to cover international organizations -- creditors say they are not after them.
  • The opinion mentions Collective Action Clauses twice as both important, and a meaningful bar to future pari passu litigation. This is completely, totally, unambiguously wrong for all the reasons I have given before, and I cannot believe the judges did it when they did not have to. On the bright side, it gives me and my buddies more to write about.
  • This may not be as radical as it seems. Everyone would acknowledge that Argentina is an extreme case of vocal intransigence, even by defaulting sovereign standards. In another extreme case last summer, an English judge put an outer boundary on the use of exit consents in distressed debt exchanges. While initial reporting (mine included) suggested that this might seriously damage an established restructuring technique, later analysis suggested more of a modulation. I have said in the past that whatever pari passu means, Argentina is the closest I have seen to breach. Well, now a court says it too, if a bit more strongly than I would. Is it open season on sovereigns via pari passu, consequences be darned? I doubt it.
  • It is not over by a long shot. Apart from all the decisions that still have to be taken by the lower court on remand (which could end up gutting the injunction), Argentina will surely appeal. It will ask the full circuit to hear the case, and if it loses again, it will try to go to the Supreme Court. Much excitement to come, with lots of law to be made.
If I were Argentina, an agent bank, or much of the sovereign establishment, I would be shocked and dismayed. If I were Elliott, I would be dancing the jig. As it stands, I am looking forward to some really interesting law and policy developments to come.


But what does Elliott win?
If nobody can do anything to stop Argentina from transferring funds to intermediary banks and intermediary banks cannot be interfered with in making transfers to bondholders pursuant to Argentina's particular requests, how does Elliott end up with any money?
I know the intermediary bank issue is on remand, but it seems the Second Circuit is saying that the injunction cannot stop banks from paying exchange bondholders without paying defaulted bondholders.
The question in my mind is whether intermediary banks would touch anything Argentina with a ten-foot pole now, and if yes, what might it cost. Note also that because the math is totally up in the air, the injunction cannot be enforced until J. Griesa figures it out.
This is really fascinating, in large part because it's very much unexpected. Two questions come to mind:
1) If by some act intermediary banks are in fact forced to follow the injunction, forcing Argentina to make a pro-rata payment to holdouts in order to continue servicing their performing debt, doesn't this mean that it constitutes an event of default on the currently performing debt? If memory serves me correctly, the exchange bond prospectus says that Argentina is not allowed to give holdouts a better offer than what it initially offered everybody. Does this matter at all to the courts?
2. What would the timing look like for an injunction to be enforced, assuming that the Second District affirms whatever Griesa comes back with? This case has dragged on for a while but I wonder if we might see an unravelling within the next year or so.
Quite the unexpected decision. And, Anna, you're completely right that the court doesn't seem to grasp the relevance of CACs. On a couple of occasions, it says that CACs eliminate the possibility of holdout litigation, which of course is not the case. As you've pointed out before, most modern CACs are drafted in a way that allows holdout creditors to buy blocking positions in relatively small issues. No majority vote, no restructuring. From the opinion, it's obvious that the court doesn't grasp this.
On the other hand, I suspect the court went on its CAC bender in response to the US government's concern that injunctions like this might, in a future case, block a restructuring. And while CACs don't prevent holdouts - at least, not unless the bond provides for an aggregated vote across every bond issue - they probably do prevent holdouts from blocking a restructuring. (Not that holdouts block restructurings now, but, you know...) With CACs in place, won't holdouts be limited to buying reasonably small positions in reasonably small issues, so that the country can still get plenty of debt relief?
I cry not for Argentina, but maybe the intermediate banks do. The law says that they are fair game in asset forfeiture cases. But they are limited-- banks nowadays try to avoid criminals and banks that deal with criminals, and prosecutors are busy people.
Around 2002, the Second Circuit expanded this to admiralty. After years of howling by the banks, the court reversed itself. (The cases: Winter Storm and Jaldhi.) There has been another recent raft of cases along these lines inspired by the New York Court of Appeals in some truly knuckleheaded decisions: Hotel 71 and Koehler. (That's the highest state court.)
The problem, from the intermediate banks' perspective, is fairly simple. Garnishment is a middleman process. The garnishee gives to the court, and is compensated by the extinction of its creditor's asset. This works fine in one jurisdiction. But if you get multinational, there is no guarantee that a foreign court will recognize the extinction of its debt to its creditor (here, the respondent of the US correspondent bank). Indeed, it is often very likely that the foreign court would get rather huffy. It is being asked to choose between harming the respondent (who still owes its customer money) while violating norms of private international law, or complying with the norms and helping the locals. In law Latin, that's a no-brainer.
This is what happens when courts of appeal don't care if their decisions fit into reality (and when judges are briefed by recent law review editors with all the real world experience of Paris Hilton). This is a complete mess, and the CAC issue and the handling of holdouts is only the start. Following on Fernando's comments, if I were Argentina, I'd conclude that the US has already declared me in default in all respects and move my pieces around the board accordingly. Apparently the Second Circuit, for all its supposed cutting-edge decisions, still thinks money in the bank is physical money in a physical bank instead of electrons in a computer that can be moved to Dubai in the wink of an eye. And all future transactions just have to be in entities that can't be dragged into court in Manhattan (and yes, it can be done). The only thing Argentina really needs to avoid is jurisdictions like Ghana with judge-shaped objects that don't know the difference between waiver of sovereign immunity to suit and waiver of sovereign immunity to execution.
Elliott can dance all the jigs it wants, but it's likely to learn what I've been telling clients for over 25 years: Just because you have a judgment doesn't mean you can collect on it.

Montag, 22. Oktober 2012

Schriftstücke dürfen einer ausländischen Vertretung (z.B. Botschaft, Konsulat) in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland nicht unmittelbar durch das Gericht zugestellt werden.

Rechtshilfeordnung für Zivilsachen
§ 35 ZRHO(Gesetz) - Landesrecht NiedersachsenZustellung an einen fremden Staat oder an einen ausländischen Diplomaten

(1) Ein Antrag auf Zustellung an einen fremden Staat oder ausländische Diplomaten ist der Landesjustizverwaltung vorzulegen.
(2) Die zuzustellenden Schriftstücke sind zur Übermittlung auf dem diplomatischen Weg (über die zuständige deutsche Auslandsvertretung) vorzubereiten. Die Zustellung wird vom Auswärtigen Amt veranlasst, wenn nicht, unter Beachtung insbesondere der EG-Zustellungsverordnung bzw. des Haager Zustellungsübereinkommens, auswärtige Interessen entgegen stehen.
(3) Schriftstücke dürfen einer ausländischen Vertretung (z.B. Botschaft, Konsulat) in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland nicht unmittelbar durch das Gericht zugestellt werden. Die ausländische Vertretung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ist nicht befugt, Schriftstücke für den Entsenderstaat entgegen zu nehmen. Vielmehr ist nach Abs. 1 zu verfahren.

Dienstag, 16. Oktober 2012

zur Zustellungsproblematik bei (immunen) Botschaften.....

Der EuGH hat am 19.07.2012 entschieden:
.....die Botschaft sei eine Niederlassung im Sinne der EU-Verordnung 44/2001 über die gerichtliche Zuständigkeit....ein ausländischer Staat kann sich gegenüber deutschen Arbeitsgerichten nicht auf die völkerrechtliche Immunität seiner Botschaften berufen.....

Montag, 8. Oktober 2012

danach zu urteilen kann man alle möglichen Bonds (also auch fremdrechtliche) am Heimatort einklagen.....

Gericht:OLG Frankfurt 11. Zivilsenat
Aktenzeichen:11 AR 132/12
Quelle:juris Logo
Normen:Art 6 Nr 1 EGV 44/2001, Art 16 EGV 44/2001, § 12 ZPO, § 17 ZPO, § 36 Abs 1 Nr 3 ZPO

Die Regelung der örtlichen Zuständigkeit in Art. 16 EuGVVO ist im Bestimmungsverfahren gem. § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO zwingend zu beachten.


1. Die örtliche Zuständigkeit für Verbraucherschutzsachen ist in Art. 16 EuGVVO abschließend geregelt.

2. Beim Erwerb einer Fondsbeteiligung durch einen Privatanleger handelt es sich um eine Verbrauchersache.

3. Bei der Bestimmung des zuständigen Gerichts führt die Regelung in Art. 16 EuGVVO zu einer Beschränkung des Auswahlermessens im Bestimmungsverfahren, weil die dort geregelten Zuständigkeiten zwingend beachtet werden müssen.


Die Entscheidung ist nicht anfechtbar.


Das Landgericht Marburg an der Lahn wird gemäß § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO als das zuständige Gericht bestimmt.


Der Antragsteller beabsichtigt, die Antragsgegnerinnen wegen einer aus seiner Sicht fehlgeschlagenen Beteiligung an dem ...fonds … GmbH & Co. Verwaltungs KG als Gesamtschuldner auf Schadensersatz in Anspruch zu nehmen.
Der Erwerb der Anlage erfolgte auf der Grundlage einer Beratung durch die Antragsgegnerin zu 1). Die Antragsgegnerin zu 2) übernahm die Anteilsfinanzierung und fungierte als schuldübernehmende Bank hinsichtlich der Zahlungsverpflichtungen aus den Erlöseinnahmen. Der Antragsteller behauptet, dass sowohl das von Mitarbeitern der Antragsgegnerin zu 1) geführte Beratungsgespräch als auch die Beratung der Antragsgegnerin zu 2) und der zugrunde liegende Prospekt inhaltlich unzureichend gewesen seien.
Der Antragsteller beantragt, das Landgericht Darmstadt als das örtlich zuständige Gericht zu bestimmen. Die Antragsgegnerinnen haben dem zugestimmt.

Auf den nach § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO zulässigen Antrag war von dem nach § 36 Abs. 2 ZPO dazu berufenen Senat das Landgericht Marburg an der Lahn als das gemeinsam zuständige Gericht zu bestimmen.
Nach § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO erfolgt auf Antrag eine Gerichtsstandsbestimmung, wenn mehrere Personen, die bei verschiedenen Gerichten ihren allgemeinen Gerichtsstand haben (§§ 12, 17 ZPO), als Streitgenossen verklagt werden sollen und für den Rechtsstreit ein gemeinschaftlicher besonderer Gerichtsstand nicht begründet ist. Diese Voraussetzungen liegen vor.
Für die Prüfung der Voraussetzungen des § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO ist vom Vortrag des Antragstellers auszugehen. Eine Prüfung der Zulässigkeit oder Schlüssigkeit der Klage findet im Verfahren der Zuständigkeitsbestimmung nicht statt (Zöller/Vollkommer, ZPO, 28. Aufl., § 36 Rn. 18).
Streitgenossenschaft auf Beklagtenseite ist gegeben. Gegenstand des Rechtsstreits sind Ansprüche wegen Aufklärungspflichtverletzungen im Zusammenhang mit der Vermittlung der Kommanditbeteiligungen an den Antragsteller, also aus im Wesentlichen gleichartigen tatsächlichen und rechtlichen Gründen i. S. d. §§ 59 ff ZPO.
Die Antragsgegnerinnen haben ihren allgemeinen Gerichtsstand in verschiedenen Landgerichtsbezirken, die Antragsgegnerin zu 1) im Bezirk des Landgerichts Darmstadt, die Antragsgegnerin zu 2) hat keinen allgemeinen inländischen Gerichtsstand.
Ein gemeinschaftlicher besonderer Gerichtsstand der Antragsgegnerinnen ist nicht begründet. Er ergibt sich insbesondere nicht aus Art. 6 Nr. 1 EuGVVO. Die Vorschrift ist im vorliegenden Fall nicht anwendbar. Die Zuständigkeit für Versicherungs-, Verbraucher- und Arbeitssachen ist im 3. – 5. Abschnitt der EuGVVO abschließend geregelt. Das folgt aus Art. 15 Abs. 1 EuGVVO, wonach sich die Zuständigkeit bei Verträgen mit Verbrauchern unbeschadet des Art. 4 und des Art. 5 Nummer 5 EuGVVO nach dem 4. Abschnitt der Verordnung richtet. Art. 6 Abs. 1 EuGVVO ist dort nicht benannt und findet daher neben Art. 16 EuGVVO keine Anwendung (Zöller/Geimer, ZPO, 29. Aufl., Rn. 1a zu Art. 6 EuGVVO; EuGH, EWiR 2008, 435; KG, Beschl. v. 11.09.2006, 28 AR 34/06; Senat, Beschl. v. 27.02.2012, 11 AR 72/11). Vorliegend ist von einer Verbrauchersache i.S.d. Art. 15 Abs. 1 lit. c) EuGVVO auszugehen, weil der Antragsteller den Fondsanteil als Privatanleger erworben hat (Geimer a.a.O., Rn. 14 zu Art. 17).
Als zuständig war das Landgericht Marburg an der Lahn zu bestimmen. Bei der Bestimmung des zuständigen Gerichts führt die gemeinschaftsrechtliche Regelung in Art. 16 Abs. 1 EuGVVO im Ergebnis zu einer Beschränkung des Auswahlermessens im Bestimmungsverfahren nach § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO.
Nach allgemeiner Ansicht eröffnet die VO nicht nur die internationale Zuständigkeit der Gerichte des Wohnsitzstaates des Verbrauchers, sondern regelt darüber hinaus auch die örtliche Zuständigkeit. Liegt der Beklagtenwohnsitz in einem anderen Mitgliedstaat, so wird auch die örtliche Zuständigkeit grundsätzlich durch die VO geregelt und sind §§ 12 ff. ZPO vollständig ausgeschaltet (Geimer a.a.O. Rn. 6 zu Art. 2 EuGVVO; KG a.a.O. Rn. 8). Damit bleibt der Rückgriff auf die Regelungen der ZPO auch bezüglich der örtlichen Zuständigkeit versperrt, wenn diese – wie in Art. 16 Abs. 1 EuGVVO - unmittelbar festgelegt wird.
Aus dem Anwendungsvorrang der EuGVVO ist zu schließen, dass die dort geregelten Zuständigkeiten – anders als etwa die ausschließlichen Gerichtsstände der ZPO – auch im Bestimmungsverfahren nach § 36 Abs. 1 Nr. 3 ZPO zwingend beachtet werden müssen (Geimer a.a.O. Rn. 30; Senat a.a.O.).
Im vorliegenden Fall hat dies zur Folge, dass als zu bestimmendes Gericht nur das Landgericht Marburg an der Lahn in Betracht kommt, weil der Antragsteller dort seinen allgemeinen Gerichtsstand hat und die Antragsgegnerin zu 2) nur an diesem international wie örtlich eröffneten Gerichtsstand verklagt werden kann.

Hinweis: Die Entscheidung wurde von den Dokumentationsstellen der hessischen Gerichte ausgewählt und dokumentiert. Darüber hinaus ist eine ergänzende Dokumentation durch die obersten Bundesgerichte erfolgt.

Samstag, 21. Juli 2012

FG Hemisphere Associates responds to inaccurate and misleading media reports

FG Hemisphere Associates responds to inaccurate and misleading media reports

December 2, 2011

Statement by Peter Grossman, Managing Director, FG Hemisphere Asssociates, LLC

Factually inaccurate and highly sensationalized media reports by a free-lance reporter that have recently appeared concerning an investment by FG Hemisphere Associates (FG) in debt owed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I’d like to begin clearing up a number of these factual inaccuracies and to provide some context.
The story is much more complicated than is being portrayed. First of all, we are not seeking $100 million or anything close to it. We have had to sue the DRC because, despite ten years of effort and four written settlement agreements, all of which offered the DRC significant discounts from what was owed, the DRC has never completed any of these settlements after agreeing to them. We’ve been left with no other option but to sue, and when you sue, you obviously sue for what you are owed. So, yes, we are “claiming” 100% of what we are owed – in the lawsuit. But that is not what we have sought from the DRC in our negotiations or have been (and remain) prepared to accept, as the DRC fully knows.
The purchase of these claims by FG is highly beneficial to the country and to the Congolese people, in the following two ways. First, investors into high-risk environments like the DRC need to know that a market exists for their contractual claims if things do not work out. Knowing that that market exists, and that they can obtain at least something for these claims in the worst case scenario, lessens the risks associated with making these investments. Lessening the risk lowers the cost to the country of attracting the investment in the first place.
Even more tangibly and immediately, in the course of trying to resolve these claims, we examine and investigate in detail the commercial dealings of the country. In the case of the DRC, that generally has meant examining the government’s transactions involving its very substantial, natural resources. That activity in turns brings much needed transparency into how the country’s leadership is managing those resources. With our financial means, special expertise and investigative experience, few have done more than FG and other private creditors to bring transparency to how certain countries (for example, Congo-Brazzaville – the "other" Congo) are utilizing their natural resources, a fact recognized and acknowledged by media outlets as diverse as the Sunday Times, Washington Times and Al Jazeera (Part 1 and Part 2).
Regarding the DRC itself, just last month a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Eric Joyce, alleged (backed by substantial documentation) that, in the last two years alone, the current administration has “lost” 5.5 billion dollars through "questionable mining deals" sold through BVI companies whose ownership is hidden. His allegations were backed by the NGO Global Witness, which had also been investigating some of the same transactions.
We have been looking into DRC’s natural resource transactions for years. So have a diverse group of other concerned parties including Mr. Joyce, Global Witness, The Carter Center, journalists, creditors and other contractually-aggrieved parties. The ultimate beneficiaries are the Congolese people as the transparency that this effort engenders helps ensure that their natural resources are being utilized for their benefit rather than just for a few at the top (the “1%”, as the current saying goes).
It is healthy for these governments, and vitally important to their citizens, to have independent, third parties from outside the country scrutinizing how these governments manage their country’s resources. This kind of scrutiny can only be done effectively by parties that have the financial means, expertise and motivation to do it and who cannot be intimidated, jailed or worse for asking difficult questions or revealing sensitive information. It is no different than the kind of transparency that we have come to expect of our own governments and the companies in our financial markets. Such transparency only arises because there are parties with a vested interest in the financial activities of these entities, most often creditors, investors and their advisors.
I want to address one or two specific allegations in these stories. First, FG did not seek out DRC claims because the DRC’s debt was about to be extinguished or because it was poor. We were approached to purchase the claim because Energoinvest (the original claim holder) needed liquidity. It had gone into the DRC, built electrical infrastructure worth many tens of millions of dollars, was not paid for its work and now faced potential financial ruin because of its country’s own civil war. Regarding the DRC, we believed that the country was turning a corner politically in 2001. Moreover, while recognizing that they had been poorly managed to date, the country obviously had extraordinary natural resource wealth (the Guardian estimates it at 24 trillion dollars), given which we felt confident that over time we could find some way to work out these claims.
We purchased the claim at a discount, as one would expect given that the claim had not been paid in nearly ten years. There is a market price for non-performing loans from all emerging market countries and we bought this loan at that market price. But it has been portrayed as if that is all we have ever had to invest; far from it. The purchase cost was just the beginning. We have tried to resolve this claim amicably with the DRC for ten years now. Throughout, we have only ever sought a fair and reasonable resolution. We have tried to be extremely flexible in how it might get worked out, including the use of concessions or instalment payments and even the forward sale of electrical power as alternative approaches. All of them would have involved future, purely business-related revenues of the government. All of these proposed solutions were rejected. We have reached agreement in writing on four separate occasions, all of which agreements gave the DRC a substantial discount on what was owed – far greater discounts than the country accepted in a number of settlements in recent years with other private creditors. The DRC consistently failed to complete these deals after agreeing to them. Only last year, we agreed in writing to an effective discount net of enforcement of 66%. The DRC walked from the deal after we spent weeks trying to close it, at a cost to us of over $400,000 in legal fees.
As a result of these constant settlement failures over ten years, we now have incurred over $20 million in costs. So the idea that we have invested $3 million and we are trying to get $100 million, is a completely mischaracterization of the situation. We are in for much more than $3 million, and we have been (and remain) more than willing to settle for very substantially less than we are owed.
We have also been portrayed as seeking to take monies designated for development and poverty alleviation. That is completely untrue. Regarding any legal actions by us, we are prevented from attaching funds or assets of any kind that are used or designated for aid, development, poverty relief or any other social issues of that kind. Under existing law in effect throughout the world, the legal doctrine known as “sovereign immunity” allows us only to obtain assets or revenues of the DRC that are not allocated for such “sovereign” purposes. That is, in simple terms, we can only attach and collect from government assets or revenues that are being used for “commercial” or “business” purposes. Thus, we cannot possibly, ever (nor would we want to) interfere with aid or funds used for development, poverty relief or any similar purpose.
The impression that these news stories have created is that that is precisely what we are trying to do through our legal action in Jersey. The Jersey action involves funds due to the DRC from the sale of cobalt. Even if FG were to drop this action entirely, the funds released would go to an entity engaged in mining-related activities. It would not go to the DRC treasury or to development or any other similar sovereign purpose.
Putting aside our legal actions, the other complaint made is that companies like FG, by suing the country, indirectly force these countries to divert money saved from debt relief and that “have been earmarked for poverty reduction, education and health”. This misconceives how debt relief operates. There is no requirement under the IMF’s “HIPC” debt relief initiative that debt relief has to be allocated by the country to poverty reduction, development or indeed any particular purpose. The government is free to use these funds any way that it chooses to. In the DRC, that would suggest about 22% of it would be used for such purposes based on its 2011 budget. But the real point is that these are commercial claims that should and can be resolved entirely out of the country’s purely commercial revenues and assets that by their very nature would, under any circumstance, never be applied to development, poverty alleviation or any such social purpose. Indeed, less than one per cent of just what is alleged by Eric Joyce MP to have been “lost” in the last two years alone would have funded entirely the settlement FG reached with the DRC last year.
There is also the notion that we are not offering the same debt relief that other, official and private creditors have offered. This notion is based on the belief that all creditors of the DRC have offered the same, uniform amount of debt relief under the HIPC initiative. In fact, under HIPC itself, the countries are free to work out their arrangements with their private creditors on a voluntary basis on whatever terms they want. The Paris Club has urged the DRC to obtain “comparable” debt relief from its private creditors, but it does not insist upon it and in fact specifically carves out an exception for claims that represent a small portion of the country’s overall indebtedness. In the DRC, ALL of its private creditor debt, collectively, amounts to only 2 ½ percent of the country’s overall external indebtedness. The balance, and vast majority of DRC’s external debt – 97.5% – is debt lent by the Paris Club and other “official” creditors.
Consistent with that approach, within the last three years the DRC has settled with a number of its other, private creditors at 100% of what was owed, to the tune of $120 million dollars, and neither the Paris Club nor the IMF (nor Jubilee or any other NGO) has complained. FG has never asked for 100% of what it is owed in any of its negotiations. Far from it; we have agreed in writing to discounts as high as 66%. So the notion that we are insisting on being paid in full is simply not true. These news reports are basing this idea on what we have claimed in our lawsuits (again, you claim what you are owed). We are not looking or expecting to recover that amount, and have always been prepared to accept much less. Suing the DRC is our last and least preferred resort, after it has failed to complete several deals that it agreed to in writing.
I want to put to rest another misimpression from these reports. It was suggested that FG filed its legal action in Jersey in some devious way in order to evade the UK debt relief legislation. We filed our action in Jersey in March 2009 – a year before the UK law was even passed. Secondly, Jersey is the only “situs” (the legal term for “location”) of the debt we sought to attach. We could not possibly have brought the action in England. A Jersey joint venture company owes this debt to the DRC. As such, we could only ever have proceeded in Jersey.
It was also suggested that “other nations bar collections by ‘vultures’”, and that “vulture funds”, as we have been pejoratively labelled, were “in effect made illegal in the UK last year”. First, the UK is the ONLY country that has passed a law in this area. (Belgium has a law respecting development funds, but that is no different than the sovereign immunity law I mentioned earlier.) Secondly, even under this unique, UK law, it’s entirely “legal” to enforce sovereign claims. What the UK law does is limit what a creditor can recover against certain sovereigns. It does not “bar” these actions.
There is one final, particularly upsetting part of the recent media campaign against FG that I want to address: the ostensible “illegality” that purports to surround the purchase of the claims from Energoinvest. Let me begin by categorically denying that FG itself did anything whatsoever illegal or inappropriate in this purchase. The stories themselves were very careful not to specifically allege that FG actually did anything illegal. Rather, they have tried to imply that something illegal occurred, and that as a result, the purchase is tainted in some way.
At no point since our purchase of the debt over 10 years ago has anyone ever before raised with us any allegations of impropriety regarding the purchase - neither Energoinvest nor any Bosnian authority nor anyone else. No one at the BBC or the Guardian gave us any warning, let alone details, about what was being alleged by certain people within Bosnia, nor did they give us an opportunity to make our own inquiries or respond in any meaningful way.
Based on such research as we have subsequently been able to undertake, first and foremost, FG is not alleged to have done anything wrong whatsoever under Bosnian law or any other law. Secondly, the purchase was vetted, documented and closed for FG by a world class law firm, Shearman and Sterling, which obtained in the process, among other things, a legal opinion from Energoinvest’s own, outside counsel confirming that the transaction was duly authorized by the company and was legal in all respects under Bosnian law. Based on an opinion recently obtained from our own Bosnian counsel, that remains the case. We relied on Shearman and Sterling to ensure that all necessary authorizations had been obtained, and I am sure Shearman and Sterling, among other things, relied in turn on this opinion rendered by Energoinvest’s outside counsel. When dealing with a foreign corporation in a foreign country with laws in a foreign language, there is very little else that one can do to ensure that a transaction has been completed appropriately in all respects under local law.
This is all that I want to put across for now about these highly inflammatory and misleading reports. We are going to approach the BBC and the Guardian through appropriate channels to try to correct some of the more overt errors and misstatements in these reports, but that can be a long process. I wanted to get this response out to the wider public quicker than that so that at least you have some balance and perspective on the story and our responses to it.
I fully understand why these reports would be upsetting to people, none more than me personally, I can assure you. I hope that the above information will be of some help in at least understanding that the situation is neither as simple nor as straightforward as it has been presented. I thank you for taking the time to try to understand and appreciate these complexities and nuances of our business and of this particular situation.
Peter Grossman
FG Hemisphere Associates, LLC

For media inquiries, please contact:

FG Hemisphere Associates, LLC
80 Broad Street, Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10004
1 212 687 3930

Privy council blocks 'vulture fund' from collecting $100m DRC debt

  • Vulture funds
  • Privy council blocks 'vulture fund' from collecting $100m DRC debt

    FG Hemisphere had tried to exploit a legal loophole to demand impoverished African nation pay back money
    Processing DRC copper
    Processing DRC copper: the state mining company need not pay the debt.
    The privy council has blocked a multimillionaire speculator from taking up to $100m (£64m) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a decades old debt that started out at $3.3m.
    Peter Grossman, who runs so-called "vulture fund" FG Hemisphere, had tried to exploit a legal loophole to demand the impoverished African nation pay back the debt. But the privy council overturned a previous court ruling allowing FG Hemisphere to demand the multimillion-pound payout from DRC's state-owned mining company.
    In an attempt to skirt British law, which bans "vulture funds" from buying poor nations' debts on the cheap before suing them for 10-100 times the amount paid, Grossman took the case to Jersey, a crown dependency not covered by the UK law.
    The Jersey court had ruled the DRC's state-owned mining company Gécamines should pay back the debt, which was originally a loan from the former Yugoslavia to Zaire, as DRC was then known, to build power lines 30 years ago.
    Bosnian police files, shown to the Guardian and Newsnight, reveal FG Hemisphere paid $3.3m for the Yugoslav power claim. Michael Sheehan, another so-called vulture who set up the deal and who chooses to refer to himself as Goldfinger after the James Bond villain, is said to have collected more than half a million dollars from setting up the deal.
    The privy council, which is the final court of appeal for Crown dependencies (including Jersey), ruled that Gécamines is not responsible for the Congolese government's debts.
    The ruling means FG Hemisphere can no longer collect the debt via Jersey and the case may set a precedent making it harder for vulture funds and other sovereign debt creditors to collect funds from state-owned companies.
    Before turning to the Jersey loophole, Grossman's company had unsuccessfully tried to seize the DRC's embassy in Washington as a downpayment on the debt.
    A spokesman for Grossman said: "We are obviously disappointed at the judgment delivered by the council. FG Hemisphere has sought repayment of a debt for electrical infrastructure built at the request of the DRC government by a private company that was never paid for this work. We remain committed to finding a legal and fair resolution of this claim." Last year Grossman released a lengthy statement on the case, which can be read here:
    Justin Harvey-Hills, a partner at Mourant Ozannes, which represented Gécamines in the case, said: "The case will go far beyond Jersey and the UK. It sets an important precedent in common law. In order to enforce claims for sovereign debt against state-owned companies, creditors will need to show that the company is so much part of the state it has no meaningful independent existence."
    The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said many countries had been pursued by vulture funds, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and the DRC. The IMF has said vulture funds are engaged in claims seeking a total of $1.47bn from the world's poorest countries