Singer’s NML Sues Musk’s SpaceX in Argentina Debt Dispute

Billionaire Paul Singer’s NML Capital Ltd., seeking to enforce $1.7 billion in judgments over Argentina’s defaulted bonds, sued billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. along with the South American nation for its rights to at least two satellite launches.

Through its National Space Activities Commission, Argentina has contracted with SpaceX for launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, scheduled for 2015 and 2016, according to the complaint filed yesterday in Los Angeles federal court. In doing so, NML said, the country has acquired property in the U.S. that can be seized, according to the complaint.

“Argentina’s contract for SpaceX launch slots clearly constitutes property used for a commercial activity, which means a creditor, like my client NML, can seize it under the applicable law,” Robert Cohen, a lawyer for the firm, said in a statement.

Argentina last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review lower court rulings that would force it to make payments on billions of dollars of defaulted bonds. Argentina is fighting NML and other creditors that won judgments requiring the country to pay its defaulted debt if it pays its restructured debt.

“Given that Argentina has systematically refused to pay its judgments, obey U.S. court orders, or even talk to its creditors, this effort to enforce judgments against Argentina is right and necessary,” Cohen said.

Hedge Fund

NML is managed by Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., a New York-based hedge fund that manages money for a wide range of institutional investors, including university endowments, foundations and pension funds, according to the complaint.

Representatives of Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, didn’t immediately respond yesterday to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit. Jesica Rey, a spokeswoman for Argentina’s Economy Ministry, declined to immediately comment.

The case is NML Capital Ltd. v. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., 14-02262, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles.)