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On July 16 2001 the Argentine Commercial Court No. 15 ruled on the opening of preventive proceedings (concurso preventivo) to restructure over $900 million in debt of the flag-carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas and the appointment of receivers following a voluntary petition filed by the company to avoid a declaration of bankruptcy. Aerolíneas Argentinas is owned by the Spanish state holding company SEPI, which has been negotiating with the Argentine government over the airline's future.

The deadline for creditors to file claims to the receivers is November 6 2001. The number of creditors to the company is more than 6,700 and the debt to be rescheduled is approximately $932 million. The court appointed ABN Amro Bank, YPF and Pacific Aviation Holding as members of the creditors' committee. During the preventive proceedings, the debtor continues to manage its business under the supervision of the receivers, but prior judicial consent is required for actions taken out of the ordinary course of business.

Aerolíneas Argentinas was privatized in 1990 by the Peronist president Carlos Menem. It was sold free of liabilities to Iberia as the Argentine state assumed about $800 million in debts. The company has accumulated over $900 million in debts and lost almost every asset, with only one plane remaining in its fleet of the 30 it once owned. American Airlines shared Aerolíneas management for some time. Aerolíneas has suspended its international flights and the crisis is threatening the jobs of its 6,500 employees. It remains to be seen if any of the proposals recently submitted to SEPI to purchase of Aerolíneas Argentinas is accepted. A meeting of Aerolíneas's shareholders scheduled to take place on July 23 2001 to decide on the future of the company was adjorned to allow SEPI to evaluate all the proposals made for the acquisition of the company.

Atilio Dell'Oro Maini

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