UPDATE 4-Argentina offers $6.5 billion cash deal to end debt battle
(Adds background on impact of a deal for Argentina)
By Daniel Bases and Sarah Marsh
NEW YORK/BUENOS AIRES Feb 5 (Reuters) - Argentina offered a $6.5 billion cash payment to creditors suing the country over defaulted bonds on Friday, seeking to end a festering 14-year legal battle that transformed it into a financial markets pariah.
Two out of six leading bondholders have already accepted the offer, the U.S. court-appointed mediator said, hailing the proposal by Argentina's new, business-friendly government as an "historic breakthrough".
The offer, if accepted by all litigating bondholders, would represent a roughly 25 percent discount or so-called haircut for creditors who filed claims of about $9 billion.
The turning point in the legal fight stemming from Argentina's record default on around $100 billion in 2002 comes less than two months after President Mauricio Macri took office and expressed his commitment to a deal.
If Macri manages to clinch an agreement, the cash-strapped country will be able to emerge from default and return to global capital markets to finance badly-needed infrastructure such as new roads and railways.
Lower borrowing costs would also be a boon for corporate and regional finances in Latin America's third largest economy.
The Argentine finance ministry said the offer entailed "a payment of approximately $6.5 billion if all the bondholders accept it". It followed five days of intense talks in New York led by Finance Secretary Luis Caputo. The former Deutsche Bank bond trader brought a market mindset to discussions after Argentina's previous negotiator, former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof, an academic, frequently clashed with bondholders. Continuación...