According to Rogerio Nkomo, a spokesman for Mozambique’s finance ministry, the nation was close to reaching a loan restructuring agreement with Russian bank VTB on a loan made to state-owned firm Mozambique Asset Management (MAM). Previously, MAM had missed a $178m interest payment on VTB Bank’s loan on 23 May 2016.
According to Mr. Nkomo, matters pertaining to restructuring of the loan and payment of interest would be resolved within the coming few days.
The cash-strapped nation’s problems increased after the missed interest payment. A group of donors have requested the government to reveal the shareholding structure of MAM and a second state-owned company, Proindicus, which was lent $622m in 2013.
As a result of the situation, S&P downgraded Mozambique’s sovereign credit rating to CCC from B-, which estimated that Mozambique’s net general debt was 90% of its GDP in 2016. Further, Fitch Ratings also lowered the nation’s rating this month to CC from CCC, saying the nation was at a greater risk of default.
According to sources, Mozambique could be hours away from defaulting on its debt as talks about rescheduling a loan from Russia’s VTB Bank PJSC to a state-owned company failed.
State-owned Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) missed a 23 May 2016 deadline to make a $178m interest payment on its state-guaranteed loan of $535m to creditors. Further, the grace period given to the firm ended on Thursday.
Previously, a government official stated that the government was unwilling to convert the loan extended to MAM into sovereign debt to avoid a default. A failure by MAM to reschedule the loan by the end of the day may trigger a sovereign default by Mozambique on its other obligations, including its $727m Eurobond due in January 2023 and a $622m loan made to state-owned firm Proindicus.
The Proindicus loan and the $535m MAM facility are among the $1.4bn of debt that the Mozambican government had previously kept ‘hidden’ before disclosing their existence to the International Monetary Fund last month.
Proindicus had made a $24m interest payment on its debt on 21 March 2016, but Finance Minister Adriano Afonso Maleiane said last week that MAM would not be able to honor its interest payment.
Separately, Fitch Ratings cut Mozambique’s credit rating by one level to CC this week, saying disclosure of the new debt revealed significant short-term repayment obligations. Moody’s Investors Service views Mozambique as already in default.
Mozambique’s debt installment represents about 10% of its reserves ($1.8bn as on April 2016) if it goes ahead with the interest payment.
The yield on Mozambique’s Eurobond rose 35 basis points to 17.1% in trade in London on 26 May 2016.