(Recasts with context, adds bond prices, context)
By Deisy Buitrago and Brian Ellsworth
CARACAS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on Friday it was making last-minute payments on two bonds close to default, including one backed by shares in U.S.-based refiner Citgo, and called for “trust” as it seeks to maintain debt service amid a deepening economic crisis.
Failure to complete payment on PDVSA’s 2020 bond by Monday could allow bondholders to begin the process of seeking shares in Citgo - a PDVSA subsidiary that generates hard currency for the cash-strapped country.
But that appears unlikely in the short-term because investors have broadly been tolerant of payment delays and even some default announcements as Venezuela insists it will continue servicing the hugely profitable bonds.
“PDVSA calls on bondholders and investors to trust the logistical, productive and financial capacities of the (company), which has met its commitments despite vulgar sabotage by the imperialists and their domestic lackeys,” the firm said via Twitter.
Despite general investor tolerance, banks have become increasingly suspicious of any Venezuela-related transactions due to sanctions imposed by Washington against President Nicolas Maduro’s government over corruption and accusations it has undermined democracy in the OPEC nation.
Some $233 million in interest on the 2020 and 2022 bonds were due on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28. PDVSA has routinely been using 30-day grace periods to make such payments due to severe cash-flow problems.
The PDVSA 2020 bond was down 0.250 points to bid 78.000 while the 2022 bond was unchanged from Thursday at a price of 31.170, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Bondholders consulted by Reuters say they have at times waited as much as two weeks for transfers to be completed.
Even if the 2020 bond payment were delayed past next week, any default would be considered “cured” once investors received the corresponding funds, according to bondholders. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Brian Ellsworth, writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Susan Thomas and Tom Brown)