Argentine Frigate to Set Sail as `Vulture' Conflict Concludes

  • Naval frigate became embroiled in sovereign debt dispute
  • Ship is due to set a day after Argentina due to pay holdouts

President Mauricio Macri bid farewell on Tuesday to a naval frigate that in 2012 became the focal point of a legal battle between Argentina and its creditors after a group of hedge funds led by Paul Singer’s Elliott Management tried to seize it as compensation for defaulted bonds.

The three-mast naval ship ARA Libertad was briefly impounded at a port in Ghana on the orders of a local court as part of the holdout creditors’ attempts to collect their money after they won a New York court ruling ordering them to be paid in full on bonds in default since 2001. The ship will set sail Saturday, a day after Argentina is due to pay the holdouts, Cabinet Chief Marcos Pena said Tuesday.

Argentina will announce the results of its first global bond sale in 15 years and will use part of the proceeds to pay the creditors and bring an end to the dispute. Macri described the detention of the ship as “sad” and blamed the previous government of ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for refusing to abide by the court order.

“Thanks to the teamwork of lawmakers, senators and Finance Minister Prat-Gay and his team, who showed an enormous capacity for dialog, we have restored Argentina’s place in the world,” Macri said. “I come here today to bid farewell and to tell you that you can set off in peace because this won’t happen again.”

Fernandez’s government secured the release of the ship after two months by appealing to a United Nations tribunal that ruled that the ship had immunity as a military vessel.

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