Exclusive: Sri Lanka’s bondholders send debt rework proposal to government, sources say


Washington (Reuters) – A committee of Sri Lanka’s international private creditors sent its first debt rework proposal to the country’s authorities regarding more than $12 billion in bonds outstanding, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

It is the first bondholder proposal after the island nation of 22 million people defaulted on its debt a year ago. It marks a first formal step to engage with the country’s authorities, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because discussions are private.

Details of the proposal were not immediately available.

Representatives for the government did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson representing the creditor committee declined to comment.

The group of about 30 creditors includes global investment companies Amundi Asset Management, BlackRock, HBK Capital Management and T. Rowe Price Associates.

Bondholders and government officials met in Washington this week, with legal and financial advisers for both sides present, two sources said.

Separately, the Paris Club of creditor governments said on Friday it aims to start negotiations to restructure Sri Lanka’s bilateral debt after a committee was set up by French, Japanese and Indian finance ministers, and representatives of Sri Lanka.

China, Sri Lanka’s biggest bilateral creditor, did not join the announcement even though it holds the key to solving debt woes for some low- and middle-income countries.

“If we can cooperate, if we can equally and fairly share the burden, I think we can solve the problem,” People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang said in a seminar during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, when asked whether China could join a Japan-initiated common platform to coordinate restructuring of Sri Lanka’s debt.

After the COVID-19 pandemic that ruined the tourist sector, a spike in prices of imports following the start of the war in Ukraine, and economic mismanagement, Sri Lanka fell into its worst financial crisis in more than seven decades.

The country secured last month a $2.9 billion program from the IMF to tackle its huge debt burden.

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