Argentina asks US judge to put debt on hold

New York - Argentina asked a US judge on Monday to put on hold an order requiring it to pay bondholders who did not participate in debt restructurings following the country's 2002 default, while it seeks a "global resolution."

Ahead of a July 30 deadline to reach a deal or face a new default, Argentina filed papers asking a New York federal judge to stay a ruling that it pay the holdout investors $1.33bn plus interest.

Argentina, which has been in settlement talks, said any deal must take into account other bondholders and factor in a clause in its restructured bonds that could open it up to further liability.

"As those risks remain, so does the necessity and appropriateness of a stay," Argentina's lawyers wrote.

The request is not the first time Argentina has asked for a stay, which US District Judge Thomas Griesa has previously denied.

On Tuesday, Griesa is expected to hear a range of requests by Argentina, bondholders and financial institutions over how to enforce his ruling requiring payment to the holdouts.

The payment to the holdouts, led by Elliott Management's NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management, was due at the time of Argentina's next payment to the 92% of its creditors who participated in debt swaps in 2005 and 2010 following the country's $100bn default.

Argentina last month attempted to make a $539m payment to the restructured bondholders due June 30. But Griesa deemed it a violation of his order and told Bank of New York Mellon Corp to return the money.

A 30-day grace period is now in effect before a default can be declared.

In Monday's court filing, Argentina renewed arguments that the holdouts should not be allowed to put at risk its prior restructurings.

The country's lawyers said any deal needed to resolve not just claims by the plaintiffs but also those of other holdout creditors. Holdout creditor claims total as much as $20bn globally, Argentina said.

Argentina argued any resolution must also be consistent with a clause in the restructured bonds' contracts that would open it up to billions of dollars in additional claims if triggered before it expires at the end of this year.

Argentina said it continues to participate in settlement talks before a court-appointed mediator, Daniel Pollack.

"But that process must take into account these legal and factual constraints," Argentina's lawyers wrote.

NML did not respond to requests for comment and Aurelius had no immediate comment Monday.

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