Creditors rule Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA in default

State-owned oil company PDVSA's bonds account for 30 percent of Venezuela's foreign debt estimated at $150 billion, which the government is trying to restructure

A committee of creditors on Thursday ruled that Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA has defaulted on its debt, a decision that triggers payment of default insurance to investors and deals another blow to the oil-rich but cash-poor nation.

The New York-based committee examined three missed PDVSA bond payments at the request of investors, and ruled that "a Failure to Pay Credit Event had occurred," according to a statement.

The so-called Determinations Committee for the Americas, comprised of 15 financial firms, said it would reconvene Monday afternoon at 3:00 pm (2000 GMT) to continue discussions on the auction procedure to pay out credit default swaps against the PDVSA bonds.

And the committee of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) said "more detailed analysis will be forthcoming."

The latest decision comes after Venezuela and PDVSA already were declared by major debt ratings agencies to be in "selective default" due to the late payments.

Struggling with an estimated $150 billion in debt, the government of President Nicolas Maduro called creditors to a meeting Monday to discuss restructuring payments, but offered no concrete plan.

The government signed a debt restructuring deal with Russia on Wednesday for a little over $3 billion in official debt, but observers say that will at best help resolve some payments in the short-term.

Caracas has only $9.7 billion in foreign reserves and needs to pay back at least $1.47 billion in interest on various bonds by the end of the year, and another $8 billion in 2018.

Russia and China are the two main creditors and allies of Venezuela, which owes them an estimated $8 billion and $28 billion respectively.

About 70 percent of Venezuelan bondholders are North American, according to government figures. There are about $60 billion in PDVSA and sovereign bonds outstanding, and investors buy CDS as a hedge or insurance on that debt.

An ISDA official explained that the next step to be discussed Monday is "whether to hold an auction to determine the settlement price that will then determine the payout in CDS," as well as the auction date.

The country already is facing enormous consequences due to its deteriorating finances, with the population suffering severe shortages of food and medicine because of a lack of money to import them.