Argentina government plans $3.6 bln debt swap to delay payments

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Argentina’s economy ministry is planning a debt swap auction relating to Treasury bonds with a face value of over 214 billion pesos ($3.6 billion) that would push back repayments as the South American nation looks to stave off a damaging default.

The ministry said on Friday it would hold a Jan. 20 auction for holders of five debt instruments, who could bid to exchange their debt for two new peso-denominated Treasury bills maturing on Sept. 18 and Dec. 22 this year.

The swap would help push back upcoming payments on the original peso debt of around $2.44 billion due between Feb. 13 and Apr. 8, according to a statement from the ministry.

Argentina is looking to restructure its local and foreign debt, which the government has said it is unable to pay without renegotiating repayments and being given time to revive the country’s stalled economy to raised funds.

The new debt maturing in September will have an annual interest rate of Badlar plus 400 basis points, while the December debt will pay interest of Badlar plus 550 basis points. The interest will be paid in full on maturity.

Earlier this week Buenos Aires province - the richest and most populous district in Argentina - asked 2021 bond holders to delay until the start of May an interest payment that was due this month, a move which knocked down the value of the bond. ($1 = 60 Argentine pesos) (Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Sandra Maler)