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Venezuela Opposition Open to Creditor Talks Before Citgo Auction – Bloomberg

‘Risk of losing Citgo is real,’ the board said in a statement. More than 20 plaintiffs seeking to collect on the auction. (Citgo reports)

Fabiola Zerpa and Patricia Laya, Bloomberg News

CARACAS
EnergiesNet.com 01 10 2024

Venezuela’s opposition-led board for PDVSA said it’s open to talk with US-based refiner Citgo creditors ahead of an auction to settle claims against the government and its oil company. 

The “risk of losing Citgo is real,” the board said in a statement Tuesday evening, following the refusal by the US Supreme Court to take up an appeal request from the Venezuelan government to limit the number of creditors that could participate in the auction. Bonds of Venezuela’s state oil company due in 2020 rose on the news. 

“The board remains open to constructive conversations and dialog with creditors to reach negotiated agreements,” the statement said.

Citgo, the nation’s most valuable foreign asset, had been shielded by US sanctions against Venezuela that prevented creditors from seizing the refiner. But a US judge ordered the process for the sale of its parent company, PDV Holding Inc., to begin last year after Washington signaled it wouldn’t stand in the way. 

US Circuit Judge Leonard Stark, in charge of the Citgo sale process, has set up a calendar that includes creditors completing steps to be eligible to bid by Jan. 12, and a first round of bids for Jan. 22. A second round is to be determined. The final hearing to approve the sale is tentatively set for July 15.

The court would have to review any potential resolution or settlement, Judge Stark said earlier this week. 

Due to fraught relations between the US and socialist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, PDVH is controlled by the Venezuelan opposition while PDVSA remains in the hands of the government in Caracas. The US recently lifted sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, but is still monitoring agreements reached with Maduro and can snap back sanctions if they are not implemented, Washington has said.

Crystallex International Corp., a Canadian mining firm whose rights to the Las Cristinas gold field were seized by then-President Hugo Chavez, is first in line to receive a hefty slice of the auction’s funds. A World Bank arbitration panel in 2016 found that Venezuela owed Crystallex $1.4 billion. Venezuela has paid some of it, but Crystallex is still seeking to recover about $1 billion.

A representative for Crystallex did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other foreign firms pushed out of Venezuela include Siemens AG, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. A pair of Exxon’s oil projects were expropriated in 2007, and the company is now seeking to have $984 million in claims recognized.

More than 20 plaintiffs have filed for compensation, bringing the total claims to about $20 billion.

–With assistance from Nicolle Yapur and Andreina Itriago Acosta.

bloomberg.com 01 09 2024

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