UPDATE 1-Venezuela's ad-hoc PDVSA board begins payment on Citgo-backed 2020 bond

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s ad-hoc board of directors for state oil company PDVSA, appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, has begun paying holders of its bond maturing in 2020, three financial sector sources and two opposition sources said on Thursday. The bond is backed by shares in U.S. refiner Citgo, PDVSA’s crown jewel overseas asset, and failure to make the $71 million interest payment would have allowed bondholders to seize the shares as compensation. To avoid losing Citgo, President Nicolas Maduro’s government had remained current on the 2020 bond even as it fell behind on more than $10 billion in interest and principal payments on other bonds issued by PDVSA and the government. . But efforts by any Maduro-linked entity to pay would have been complicated by sanctions imposed by the United States on PDVSA in January as part of a bid to pressure Maduro to step down. The United States and dozens of other countries have recognized Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled congress who in January invoked Venezuela’s constitution to assume an interim presidency, claiming Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. Maduro retains control of PDVSA’s operations in Venezuela as well as state functions, but a Guaido-appointed board has taken control of Houston-based Citgo. PDVSA’s ad-hoc board has said it will use uncollected oil revenue from PDVSA to make the bond payment but has not provided further specifics about the source of the funds. The interest payment had been due at the end of April, but PDVSA had a 30-day grace period. The payment will provide only temporary protection from creditors, since there is still more than $1.5 billion outstanding on the bond and another payment is due on Oct. 27, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

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