UPDATE 1-Mexico government speeds some payments to help cash-strapped ICA
(Adds quote, share price and missed payment)
By Tomás Sarmiento and Alexandra Alper
MEXICO CITY Dec 3 (Reuters) - The Mexican government is working to speed up work-related payments to embattled construction firm ICA, whose shares have fallen sharply this week as it appears headed toward a default on some of its hefty debt load.
Deputy Infrastructure Minister Raul Murrieta told Reuters on Thursday the government was processing settlement payments for road construction projects as quickly as possible and that a government bailout was currently not on the table.
Buffeted by a weak peso and slow government infrastructure spending, ICA said on Monday it would take a 30-day grace period on some bonds after failing to pay a $31 million coupon, prompting S&P and Moody's to cut its rating.
That has stoked fears the company will default on those bonds.
"What we can do and what we are working on doing is accelerating the settlements so that the company can collect that money on time," Murrieta said in a telephone interview.
A source familiar with the matter said the Mexican government, which has cut back its own spending in recent months as weak oil prices hit public revenues, owed the company about 20 billion pesos ($1.2 billion).
Murrieta said he did not expect the company's woes to affect the three highway projects it is carrying out for the government, at least in the short term. Continuación...