Judge sides with PREPA bondholders on timing

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain sided with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority bondholders on the scheduling of the remainder of the authority’s bankruptcy with confirmation hearings expected in early March.

Bondholding investment firms and bond insurers had argued for more time to conduct discovery, inform bondholders, vote on the current plan, and respond to Oversight Board filings. The board asked the judge to schedule the plan of adjustment confirmation hearing in January.

On Wednesday Swain said she was “inclined” to schedule the hearing in the weeks of March 4 and March 11.

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain said she was “inclined” to set the PREPA plan of adjustment confirmation hearing in March.

GoldenTree Asset Management, Syncora Guarantee, Invesco Advisors, and Assured Guaranty are leading an effort to fight the board’s plan of adjustment to win a better settlement.

At Wednesday’s hearing, GoldenTree Attorney Thomas Lauria, a partner at White & Case, said he and his associates have held discussions with holders of $1.8 billion of PREPA bonds who are also opposed to the board’s plan, meaning — with the four firms’ holdings — holders of $3.6 billion of the $8.2 billion outstanding have indicated opposition to the deal.

In a separate development in the District Court Wednesday, Swain indicated she would approve a restructuring of $90 million of obligations issued by the Puerto Rico Tourism Development Fund, consisting of two bonds, two letters of credit, and three Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico loans.

The bonds — which benefited the and the Palmas del Mar Country Club — were issued in 2000 and 2011 through the Puerto Rico Industrial, Tourist, Educational, Medical, and Environmental Control Facilities Financing Authority (known as AFICA).

The restructuring will mean bondholders and the GDB will get pro-rata shares of a $10.5 million cash payment, after bond trustee fees are paid. The restructuring will resolve the letters of credit and Coco Beach Golf & Country Club bonds.

The Palmas del Mar Country Club, with an assessed value of $4.2 million, is collateral on the Palmas bonds.

Bondholders, but not the GDB, were given the opportunity to vote on the deal, consistent with the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act.

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