May 20, 2019 / 1:42 PM / a month ago

Venezuelan opposition hires veteran lawyer Buchheit to help restructure debt

CARACAS, May 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition has hired veteran debt lawyer Lee Buchheit to help restructure the country’s more than $150 billion debt burden, suggesting it could take a tough approach to dealing with investors holding defaulted bonds.

Buchheit, a former Cleary Gottlieb attorney who has represented several governments in debt talks with bond investors, published an academic article last year suggesting ways for a future Venezuela government to minimize debt repayments.

In late October, Buchheit co-authored the paper arguing that Venezuela would be a candidate to benefit from a potential U.S. executive order protecting its assets from seizure by creditors. That could facilitate an “orderly resolution” that would entice to the negotiating table even debtholders reluctant to accept losses on their holdings, he wrote.

“Lee has great respect in the sovereign debt community and among commercial creditors, government lenders and public officials,” said Ricardo Hausmann, the opposition’s representative at the Inter-American Development Bank. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Daniel Flynn Editing by Luc Cohen and Andrea Ricci)

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