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Puerto Rico’s Finances Need Increased Transparency, Negroni Says

Puerto Rico officials should disclose more about the government’s private borrowing and be more transparent about assets and liabilities to regain investor confidence, said Hector Negroni, co-founder of asset manager Fundamental Credit Opportunities.

“If you have confidence in your liquidity, open your books,” Negroni said at the Bloomberg Link State & Municipal Conference in New York.

After yields on some Puerto Rico bonds rose to records last month, Puerto Rico officials said they had enough cash to put off borrowing until June 30. Shockwaves from Detroit’s record bankruptcy filing in July and weeks of outflows from municipal-debt mutual funds drove up interest rates on the commonwealth’s debt and led it to turn to private lenders.

Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank has a more than $2 billion investment portfolio of high-grade securities and could withdraw $2.9 billion of government deposits from local financial institutions, David Chafey, chairman of the development bank, said at the conference.

“We have a manageable situation,” he said.

The GDB manages debt for the commonwealth, as treasury officials in U.S. states typically do. It serves as bank, fiscal agent and financial adviser to the territory’s authorities and cities.

Puerto Rico should disclose how much it’s borrowed from private banks and when the money is due, Negroni said. Withdrawing deposits from local banks, some of which haven’t repaid the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, created in response to the financial crisis, could weaken the commonwealth’s banking system, he said.

“The issue surrounding Puerto Rico right now in the near term is the opacity around liquidity at the government development bank,” Negroni said.

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