(2015-07-13) Standard and Poor’s credit ratings agency has downgraded Mozambique’s long term rating from B to B-, due to the proposal by the new Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, to restructure the US$850 million loan for EMATUM (Mozambican Tuna Company). The agency notes that the bond is guaranteed by the government, and thus “we would classify the restructuring as a distressed debt exchange” – that is, that EMATUM was being treated as bankrupt. Standard and Poor’s adds “the financial difficulties of EMATUM … raise broader questions about Mozambique’s governance and public sector debt management.”
Former Finance Minister Tomas Salomao was highly critical of the lack of information about the EMATUM bond issue, in an interview with O Pais (8 July). It is impossible to comment, he said, because the numbers are secret. “These things must appear in black and white.” He continued, “some day these numbers must appear in public. Because this is a company that says it is fishing for tuna, so I cannot see how you can have any secrecy.”
Meanwhile Manuel Chang, now an MP but who was Finance Minister when the bond issue was negotiated, refused to discuss it in an interview with O Pais. (8 July)
The EMATUM bond is 13% of Mozambique’s debt. It is in dollars, and the rapid rise in the value of the US dollar, from 31 Meticais to $1 a year ago to 38 to $1 now, makes the debt even more expensive in local terms.
Source: Joseph Hanlon
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