[NEW YORK] Argentina's new conservative government will begin negotiations with holdout creditors branded "vultures" in the second week of January, the New York arbitrator in the long-stalled process said Monday.
Daniel Pollack, the special negotiator appointed to seek a compromise between Buenos Aires and creditors led by two hedge funds, announced the talks following an hour-long meeting with senior envoys of President Mauricio Macri including his finance secretary Luis Caputo.
"The meeting was constructive, covering a range of issues, and it was agreed that they will return to New York City in the second week of January to commence substantive negotiations with the Bondholders," said Mr Pollack, who was appointed by US district judge Thomas Griesa.
After a previous meeting with Mr Caputo, Mr Pollack said on December 9 that talks would begin "promptly" between Mr Macri's administration and hedge funds NML and Aurelius.
The holdout creditors - speculative investors commonly referred to as "vulture funds" - are bondholders who declined to take part in the restructuring of Argentina's debt after it defaulted on about US$100 billion worth of borrowings in 2001.
The vast majority of creditors took large writedowns of their bonds in the restructure to help the country regain its financial feet.
But the holdouts, some of which bought their bonds around the time of the default at deep discounts to face value, have held on for full repayment.
In 2012 they won the backing of the New York district court, which said Buenos Aires cannot repay any creditors without paying the holdouts first.
Former president Cristina Kirchner had repeatedly rejected the court's rulings.
But Mr Macri, who became president in December on a pledge to liberalise the Argentine economy, had made clear before his election he would resume talks with the creditors.
Mr Caputo avoided reporters following the meeting with Mr Pollack.