'Not enough:' Investors react to Pemex bond plan

MEXICO CITY/NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Mexico’s national oil company Pemex will need more than the $5 billion cash capital contribution from the government announced on Wednesday to turn around its fate, investors said, although there was interest in the plan’s lengthening of debt maturities.

The steps include an offer for investors to exchange bonds that mature between 2020 and 2023 for long maturities and new issuance.

The package is part of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s race against time to save the company that owes $104 billion in financial debt from a second credit-rating downgrade to speculative grade, or junk status, which would trigger billions of dollars in forced selling.

Here is a sampling of market reactions:

Roger Horn, senior emerging market strategist, SMBC Nikko Securities America

The plan “is not enough, it never is, but it is a strong statement of support for what is clearly a quasi-sovereign.”

“This exercise that they’ve done..., the issuance of new bonds, has enormous demand. European investors I talked to today say in their world of negative rates this looks very attractive.”

“The new issuance will help clear up short-term debt and gives Pemex a much more manageable debt maturity profile that the rating agencies are going to like.”

“It forestalls the risk of downgrade, certainly through the rest of year.”

Aaron Gifford, emerging market sovereign analyst, T. Rowe Price

“It provides Pemex with much-needed support, but it’s important to note that the measures will mostly reduce debt and extend maturities than improve Pemex’s cash flow position in the near-term.”

“Much more support is needed to plug the company’s anticipated financing gap over the next couple of years above and beyond what has already been announced. Pemex needs to increase capex significantly to reach its production goals.”

“Additional resources for Pemex mean more pressure on the government’s balance sheet, raising the prospect of a downgrade for the sovereign.”

“Without an uplift to Pemex’s stand-alone credit profile, that could lead to an automatic downgrade for the company as well.”

Armando Armenta, senior economist, AllianceBernstein

“The government is realizing the support for Pemex they have mentioned in the past needed to be more explicit and they had to include the $5 billion capital injection.”

“Given that this does not increase net debt for Pemex and it is just an operation to lengthen maturities there will be market interest to participate.”

“The important question is whether this changes the trajectory in terms of capital expenditures and oil production for the company.”

Carlos Serrano Herrera, chief economist in Mexico, BBVA

“These measures help in the short term but it is necessary to resolve Pemex’s fundamental, structural problems.”

“They do not solve the fundamental problems of the company, which is excessive debt that was inherited by previous administrations, and falling production levels.”

“In order to turn this around it is fundamental to attract private investment and do farm-outs. Long term, this is what is necessary to solve the financial problems of the company.”

Alexis Milo, chief economist in Mexico, HSBC

“It will definitely improve the debt profile of Pemex (...) and will make the debt repayment scheme for the company more manageable.” (Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Sharay Angulo in Mexico City and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)