(Adds comment from finance secretary)
By Jorge Iorio and Maximilian Heath
BUENOS AIRES, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Argentina’s economy ministry said on Monday it had exchanged Treasury bills with an original face value of 99.6 billion pesos ($1.66 billion) in a debt swap auction to help push back its repayment schedule amid a wider economic crisis.
The ministry held an auction on Monday of the two new peso-denominated bills to holders of five older instruments, on which the government was facing near-term repayments starting in February adding up to around $2.44 billion.
The debt swap, part of a larger push to ease a painful debt burden, will see a significant part of those repayments pushed back until Sept. 18 and Dec. 22 when the new bills mature.
“We are more than satisfied. We have achieved the three objectives we set ourselves: extending the deadlines; lowering the amount and the rate,” Diego Bastourre, Argentina’s finance secretary, told reporters in a briefing.
“We were also able to meet another of our goals which was to decompress the timetable for the bills’ maturities.”
Argentina is looking to restructure its local and foreign debt, which new Peronist President Alberto Fernandez has said the country cannot currently pay while it seeks to revive a stalled economy to raise funds and stave off a default.
The new debt will have a nominal value of 83.35 billion pesos ($1.39 billion) with all payments on the debt being due on maturity. The government issued 47.6 billion pesos of the longer 335-day bills and 35.7 billion pesos of the 240-day bills.
The new debt maturing in September will have an annual interest rate of the Badlar rate for deposits at private banks in Argentina plus 400 basis points, while the December debt will pay interest of Badlar plus 550 basis points. ($1 = 59.9500 Argentine pesos) (Reporting by Jorge Iorio and Maximilian Heath; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Paul Simao)