(Bloomberg) -- Bondholder meetings to vote on Zambia’s request for debt relief were postponed on Tuesday after failing to reach quora, increasing pressure on the southern African country to convince creditors to accept an interest-payment holiday before it falls into default.
The meetings will be reconvened on Nov. 13, according to a regulatory filing. That’s also the deadline to make a coupon payment that Zambia skipped on Oct. 14, before it triggers a default that will give bondholders the right to demand immediate repayment of the principal. Zambia said last month it won’t be able to meet debt obligations without a standstill agreement.
The process has been keenly watched by other poor nations seeking debt relief, as well as fixed-income investors worried about where the next potential default may be. While Zambia said it wants to treat commercial and official creditors on an equal basis, bondholders are concerned any relief they grant would be used to service debts owed to Chinese state lenders, which account for more than a third of its external liabilities.
The coronavirus pandemic added to Zambia’s woes, with the economy forecast to shrink this year for the first time since 1998, but its debt problems started years earlier. Africa’s second-biggest copper producer borrowed heavily since 2012, building up nearly $12 billion in external debt and ignoring warnings from the International Monetary Fund of growing debt-distress risks.
The country’s $1 billion of 2024 Eurobonds fell 0.6% to 44 cents on the dollar by 12:42 p.m. in London.
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