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OCEANA throws support behind Superbond buyback

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Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2021. 7:48 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: For the economic and environmental relief it provides, Vice-president of Oceana in Belize Janelle Chanona told us this afternoon, we all have to root for the latest iteration of the Superbond to work.

“As a Belizean, I recognize the economic crisis, compounded by COVID, that we face as a nation. We need this bond offer to work to get much-needed “breathing room” on the financial front. I don’t even want to contemplate what lies ahead if it doesn’t,” stated Chanona in an interview with BBN.

The deal proposes a buyback of just over half the principal value with financing from the Nature Conservancy and Credit Suisse AG. Monies will be placed in an endowment fund to manage marine conservation projects.

“To the bondholders, I say that, as an environmental advocate, I welcome the benefits that the initiative is designed to bring to marine conservation. I look forward to supporting the Government of Belize in fulfilling the commitments to responsibly managing and developing our world-renowned marine resources—not only through this mechanism—but as a national approach, inclusive of relevant stakeholders, to safeguard our nature-based economy as we regain our economic footing,” she continued.

Chanona expressed enthusiasm for working with the Government to strengthen its capacity in this area: “We expect that institutional strengthening of regulatory government departments and agencies will be among the priorities. That strengthening will complement the governance of the fund itself and ensure funded projects will ultimately benefit Belizeans– through co-management agreements or as direct beneficiaries.”

To date more than 60 percent of bondholders have accepted the arrangements but for the full agreement to be executed, a threshold of 75 percent must be met. The expected stumbling block is ironically Venezuela, which holds 10 percent of the bonds but may be blocked from participating in the offer by U.S. restrictions.

The offer closes on November 19.

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