(Bloomberg) -- A cohort of TV Azteca SAB’s creditors filed a petition to force the Mexican broadcaster into involuntary bankruptcy in the US, the latest twist in drawn-out debt talks.
Holders of about $63 million of unsecured Azteca bonds filed an involuntary Chapter 11 petition against the company in New York, according to court papers late Monday.
The move marks the second attempt by bondholders to get traction for their claims against Azteca after it defaulted on the $400 million of notes in 2021. Negotiations have been thorny between creditors and the media company, which is controlled by Mexico’s third-richest man, Ricardo Salinas Pliego.
The defaulted dollar notes, which were set to mature in 2024, were trading at 42.25 cents as of March 14, according to Trace data. Shares of the company have fallen more than 11% so far this year, even as an MSCI Inc. gauge of Mexican stocks climbs about 14%.
In a Tuesday statement, Azteca reiterated its commitment to negotiations with creditors and financial discipline. The company said it would respond “responsibly” to the legal proceedings and expected the authorities to side with Azteca.
Involuntary bankruptcy cases require a company to either agree to put itself under court protection or fight creditors in court. Now that a petition has been filed, a judge will be asked to decide whether Azteca stays in bankruptcy, or if the case is dismissed.
The creditors are identified as Plenisfer Investments SGR SpA, Cyrus Capital Partners LP and Sandpiper Ltd. in the petition.
It’s the latest in a series of legal attempts by bondholders to settle with the company. Salinas, however, is known as a sharp-elbowed negotiator. Unafraid of litigation, he’s battled with local tax authorities, business rivals and bondholders alike.
A group represented by the Bank of New York Mellon came up short last year by going to state court to try to force Azteca to pay nearly $490 million. The Mexican company has successfully moved the case to the federal Southern District of New York, where it’s stalled.
The group was notified early this month that a Mexican judge temporarily froze its attempts for payment collection. Azteca, meanwhile, has said it will defer filing its fourth-quarter result.
The Spanish-language programmer has missed at least 1.32 billion pesos ($71 million) worth of bond payments, even though it had 2.8 billion pesos in cash at the end of September, Fitch Ratings said in a January report.
Bonds of Total Play Telecomunicaciones, another of Salinas’s companies, have also fallen into distressed territory as investors weigh whether the cable provider is spending too much as debt payments approach.
The case is TV Azteca, SAB de CV, 23-10385, US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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