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US vulture fund profits from bond payout

Most of the money Greece used to pay in full a 436-million-euro foreign law bond on Tuesday went to a vulture fund, the New York Times has reported.

“Almost 90 percent was delivered to the coffers of Dart Management, a secretive investment fund based in the Cayman Islands, according to people with direct knowledge of the transaction,” the newspaper said.

“Dart is one of the best known of the so-called vulture funds, which have a track record of buying the distressed bonds of nearly bankrupt countries — and if they do not get paid, suing the governments for the money.”

Dart is likely to have bought the bond on the secondary market for 60 to 70 percent of its face value. Private investors, including some 11,000 retail bondholders in Greece, had to accept a 75 percent haircut on their notes in February as part of a debt restructuring scheme.

“Dart’s payday may well offer encouragement to other holdouts among investors now in possession of about 6 billion euros in Greek bonds. Another payment is due in September, although for a lesser amount,” writes the New York Times.

Greece has not explained why it paid the bond in full. Party leaders discussed the issue when they held talks with President Karolos Papoulias but it was decided that outgoing Prime Minister Lucas Papademos should take the final decision. The initial position, which had been backed by Greece’s eurozone partners, was to not pay the bond. However, the uncertainty over Greece’s future caused the eurozone to waver and Greek officials to opt for the safer option of paying up in full.

“They caught us at the weakest possible time,” Gikas Hardouvelis, a senior economic adviser to Papademos told the New York Times. “But it does not prejudice future judgments on this matter.”

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday May 16, 2012 (11:10)  
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