August 31, 2016 / 6:02 PM / 2 years ago

Citibank resigning as pay agent on PDVSA bonds -sources

CARACAS, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Citibank is stepping aside as the bank in charge of making payments on bonds issued by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter and a letter to bondholders seen by Reuters.

Citibank in July told bondholders PDVSA would need to name a new paying agent for seven outstanding dollar-denominated bonds that the bank has represented, according to three investors who asked not to be identified.

A letter from Citibank to bondholders seen by Reuters said the bank would no longer serve as paying agent for PDVSA’s 2017N bond that bears an 8.5 percent coupon.

The letter did not describe the reason for the decision.

A spokeswoman for Citibank, a unit of Citigroup, confirmed the veracity of the letter but said the bank could not offer additional details, citing company policy of not commenting on issues involving clients. PDVSA did not respond to a request for comment.

Investors said they received similar letters from Citibank regarding bonds maturing in 2016, 2021, 2022, 2024, 2026 y 2035.

Citibank declined to comment on those letters.

Paying agents are charged with receiving funds from the issuer of a bond and disbursing those funds to bondholders.

Citibank in July said it planned to halt correspondent bank services for the Venezuelan government’s foreign currency accounts, citing a periodic risk management review.

President Nicolas Maduro said the move was part of a “blockade.”

PDVSA, which is struggling under low oil prices and a collapsing socialist economy, in November must make a $2.05 billion amortization on the 2017N bond and a $1 billion maturity payment on its 2016 global bond.

PDVSA President Eulogio del Pino has said the company is interested in swapping the 2017 bonds for later maturities.

The company has begun discussions with Credit Suisse for a possible swap of 2017 bonds, sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters this month.

But investors and bondholders consulted by Reuters say they have not been approached about such an offer. (Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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