WRAPUP 3-Argentina bonds, peso reel on country's debt swap plan
(Updates peso level, adds details about debt swap bill)
By Hugh Bronstein and Alejandro Lifschitz
BUENOS AIRES Aug 20 (Reuters) - Argentina's new plan to skirt U.S. courts and resume payment on defaulted bonds aims to protect creditors who participated in two debt restructurings, the economy minister said on Wednesday as the local peso currency weakened to a new historic low.
Defying a U.S. federal court order, Axel Kicillof also said it would be "madness" to pay holdout creditors the 100 cents on the dollar that they were awarded in 2012.
The government has sent a bill to Congress that would replace its New York intermediary bank with state-run Banco Nacion, the latest move in a years-old legal chess game between Argentina and its "holdout" creditors who refused to participate in the restructuring.
Argentina's black market peso reeled on the news, falling 2.0 percent to an all-time low 13.5 to the U.S. dollar. The country's benchmark dollar-denominated bonds due in 2033 slumped more than 2.0 percent in price.
The legal deadlock is squeezing Argentina's foreign reserves and the availability of dollars in the market by preventing the economically ailing country from issuing international bonds.
Last month, Argentina defaulted on an estimated $29 billion of its restructured debt after a New York court blocked an interest payment of $539 million. The payment did not go through to investors because U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa says restructured bonds cannot be paid unless the holdouts are simultaneously paid 100 cents on the dollar, plus interest.
The $539 million deposited by Argentina remains with intermediary Bank of New York Mellon. Argentina says Griesa overstepped his bounds by blocking the coupon payment, and is moving to ensure future payments go through local banks out of Griesa's reach. Continuación...