By Taos TurnerApril 2, 2015Argentina revokes Citibank NA CEO Gabriel Ribisich’s approval to run unitBUENOS AIRES—In the latest fallout from Argentina’s years-long debt dispute with a group of U.S. hedge funds, the country ratcheted up pressure on the local unit of Citigroup by revoking approval for its chief executive to run the company.As part of the dispute, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa had previously ruled that Citibank NA couldn’t make payments to bondholders. His ruling put the company in an awkward legal bind, forcing it to choose between obeying a U.S. court order or Argentine law, which dictated that it make the payments.Last month, Citibank NA tried to find a way out of the bind by reaching an agreement with the hedge funds and the court that allowed it to make interest payments to local bondholders. But Argentina’s central bank now says that Citibank NA CEO Gabriel Ribisich ignored local sovereign-debt restructuring laws in agreeing to the deal.A spokesman for Citi declined to comment on Thursday and Argentine banks and public institutions were closed for a four-day Easter weekend holiday. The bank is expected to seek an injunction against the move as early as Monday, a person familiar with the matter said.Last week, in another move to discipline the company for its deal with the hedge funds, Argentina suspended Citibank NA from trading in the country’s capital market.The deal has angered Argentina’s economy minister, Axel Kicillof, who says that Citibank NA chose to protect itself even though it knew that its bond payments wouldn’t reach the hands of bondholders.The dispute stems from a years-long lawsuit that Argentina lost against a small group of hedge funds in the U.S.Judge Griesa ordered Argentina to pay the hedge funds in full for bonds that they bought after Argentina defaulted on them in 2001.Argentina has refused to obey his ruling, however, and fiercely criticized both the judge and the hedge funds. As a result, Judge Griesa has blocked Argentina’s attempts to make payments to other bondholders until it meets its court-ordered obligations to the hedge funds.By Camila RussoApril 1, 2015Argentina’s central bank removed Citibank Argentina SA’s Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Ribisich from his post, increasing pressure on the lender for complying with U.S. courts in the country’s case with holdout creditors.Banco Central de la Republica Argentina is barring Ribisich from leading the bank and serving as its legal representative in the country after he “ignored” local laws governing the restructuring of sovereign debt, while executing agreements signed abroad, the monetary authority said in an e-mailed statement.A Citibank spokesman didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment.Argentine authorities threatened last month to revoke Citibank’s license if it complies with U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa’s March 12 ruling that payments on Argentina’s exchange bonds sold under local legislation must be blocked unless the country also pays its defaulted debt. The decision expands Griesa’s 2012 order that Argentina must pay holdout creditors, led by Paul Singer’s NML Capital, in full when it services debt issued in restructurings that followed the country’s 2001 default.Griesa allowed the bank to make bond payments on Tuesday and on June 30 while it tries to exit its custodian business to avoid penalties. The judge prohibited all other institutions from making payments so that investors don’t receive the funds.Regulators responded by banning Citibank from operating in the local securities market and appointed Caja de Valores SA to oversee bond payments. Confusion created by the decision prompted Clearstream Banking SA to temporarily halt settlements on all Argentine bonds on March 31.Ribisich has been head of Citibank Argentina since April 2013, according to the lender’s website. Prior to Citibank, he had worked at Santander Rio since 1990.By Daniel Cancel and Charlie DevereuxApril 1, 2015Maximo Kirchner, the 38-year-old son of Nestor and Cristina who have run Argentina since 2003, is emerging from his secluded life in Patagonia as allies call for him to run for public office this year.Maximo, who helped found the Campora youth organization that animates government events with drumming, flag waving and chanting, currently lives in Rio Gallegos, Santa Cruz province and has never run for an elected post. He left the possibility open during a rare 50-minute radio interview Tuesday.“We’ll see further along what my comrades decide,” Kirchner said during the interview on Radio Continental.A political career for Maximo could keep the Peronist branch known as Kirchnerismo alive beyond President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s term in office. Fernandez is not eligible to run for a third-consecutive term in the Oct. 25 presidential election.At least three of Maximo’s comrades from La Campora, including the head of state-run Aerolineas Argentinas, and presidential candidate Florencio Randazzo, said they would like to see Maximo Kirchner as candidate in some post after the radio interview.Election OutlookMaximo spent most of the interview denouncing media campaigns that have accused him of holding overseas bank accounts and irregularities in the family-run hotel businesses in the south. He acknowledged that he’s more known as a shy person prone to playing Playstation at home than speaking at political rallies.“I’ve gone from playing Playstation all day to holding a flame thrower,” he said. “I’ve held a profile of staying out of the limelight. They try to make it look like I grew up in a cradle surrounded by dollars.”Kirchner also criticized presidential candidate Mauricio Macri, saying his plans to lift currency controls as soon as he takes office would be disastrous for the country.Macri, the current mayor of Buenos Aires, said he and Kirchner have different ideas about how the country should be run.“I celebrate that he’s come out of the shadows and spoken,” Macri said in an interview on Radio Mitre.While Kirchner’s approval rating has risen slightly in Santa Cruz province where he lives to about 29 percent, his disapproval rating is about 47 percent, which would make it difficult for him to run for office there, said Celia Kleiman, director of polling firm Polldata. He may improve his odds by running for a seat in Buenos Aires province where his mother’s popularity is still strong, Kleiman said.“It’s possible that Buenos Aires province would be better for him because he doesn’t have a direct experience there and he could benefit from votes from his mother’s political base,” Kleiman said by phone from Buenos Aires.5 April 2015BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s central bank will send regulators to the headquarters of CitibankArgentina on Monday, the head of the monetary authority has said, the latest move between the bank and the state over defaulted debt.The regulators will perform “an integral inspection” to “guarantee normal functioning of (CitibankArgentina),” central bank chief Alejandro Vanoli said in a story published on Sunday in local newspaper Tiempo Argentina, four days after stripping authority from the bank’s CEO.Last month Argentina’s securities regulator said CitibankArgentina had violated local laws in striking a deal with litigating U.S. hedge funds and suspended the bank from conducting capital market operations.Under the accord, Citibank agreed not to appeal a U.S. court ruling that interest payments on restructured bonds, subject to Argentine law, could not be processed if the bank was allowed to make two one-off payments to help it exit its local custody business.On April 1, the central bank said CitibankArgentina head Gabriel Ribisich could no longer represent the bank because he “ignored Argentina’s legal framework regarding sovereign debt restructuring.”A spokesperson for CitibankArgentina’s parent group, Citigroup, could not be immediately reached for comment.CitibankArgentina sees itself as an innocent party caught up in a years-long court battle between the Argentine government and the New York-based funds after they were awarded full payment on their defaulted debt by a U.S. judge.The judge barred Argentina from servicing its performing debt until it settled with the creditors, but Argentina insisted Citibank keep processing payments.By Walter BianchiApril 1, 2015(Reuters) – Argentina’s central bank said on Wednesday that it will no longer recognize the head of the local Citigroup affiliate, the latest salvo in a years-old international legal battle over defaulted sovereign debt.The action was taken five days after the Argentine securities regulator said Citibank Argentina had violated local laws in striking a deal with litigating U.S. hedge funds and suspended the bank from conducting capital market operations.Under the accord, Citibank agreed not to appeal a U.S. court ruling that interest payments on restructured bonds, subject to Argentine law, could not be processed if the bank was allowed to make two one-off payments to help it exit its local custody business.The central bank issued a statement saying that Gabriel Ribisich could no longer represent Citibank Argentina because he “ignored Argentina’s legal framework regarding sovereign debt restructuring.”A spokesperson for Citibank Argentina’s parent group, Citigroup, could not be immediately reached for comment.Citibank Argentina sees itself as an innocent party caught up in a bitter court battle between the Argentine government and the New York-based funds after they were awarded full payment on their defaulted debt by a U.S. judge.The judge barred Argentina from servicing its performing debt until it settled with the creditors, but Argentina insisted Citibank keep processing payments.By Dimitra DeFotisApril 1, 2015Argentina is locked out of the global credit market until it resolves payment to holdout investors who didn’t agree to restructuring agreements on defaulted bonds.In a press release sent to this reporter, the Embassy of Argentina offers the government’s point of view, based on a recent presentation by Washington-based Ambassador Cecilia Nahón:“Vulture funds have found gaps in the international financial architecture to try to sabotage countries’ debt restructurings and get unwarranted profits, going against the majority of creditors.” This is one more case of a 1% – a minority – going against the rights of good-faith creditors, of sovereign states around the world, and financial institutions.” She also added that “This is the first time in history that a country, Argentina, wants to pay its creditors, can pay its creditors, and, in fact, has paid its creditors, but because of a decision by Judge [Thomas] Griesa, ruled ironically in ‘the name of justice,’ those creditors cannot collect their monies.”Citibank (C) said in mid-March that it will shutter its Argentine custody business after a U.S. judge ruled Citi can’t facilitate interest payments on U.S.-law Argentine sovereign debt. Eurasia Group Analyst Daniel Kerner wrote recently that with the government’s efforts to issue debt impeded because of the holdout bondholder situation, and its plans to boost spending, it must “explore other options” while “keeping tight FX [currency] and import controls to maintain FX and reserve stability” before the October presidential election.In the lengthy video above, Argentine Ambassador Nahón explains the Argentine perspective on the bond default, holdouts, and the country’s economic struggles. You can also read our recent Barrons.com posts on Argentina and a bit on bond strategy: “Deutsche’s Emerging Market Bond Strategy As FX ‘Drifts’.”In trading today, the Global X MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT) fund rose 0.6%, while the iShares Latin America 40 ETF (ILF) rose 3% and the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) rose 1.4%. Among diversified emerging market bond funds, Argentine debt accounts for 2.6% of holdings in the iShares Emerging Markets High Yield Bond fund (EMHY), according to MorningstarBy Hugh Bronstein3 April 2015BUENOS AIRES, April 3 (Reuters) – Britain spied on Argentine military and political leaders to ensure the security of the Falkland Islands from 2006 to 2011, according to a local television channel, citing intelligence documents provided by U.S. whistle blower Edward Snowden.Channel TN (TN.com.ar) said it got the documents from a team of reporters in Brazil who have been working with Snowden.One of the documents, labeled Top Secret and dated 2010, described “efforts to collect high-priority military and leadership communications,” it said.Tensions over the Falklands still simmer more than 30 years after the two countries fought a brief war, won by Britain, for control of the South Atlantic archipelago.The islands lie 300 miles (480 km) off the Argentine coast and 8,000 miles (12,870 km) from Britain. About 2,800 people live on the islands, where the main industries are raising sheep, fishing and some tourism.Oil has also been discovered in the area, raising the stakes in the dispute over control of the archipelago.TN reporter Eddie Fitte said he learned of the documents several days ago when he received a series of telephone calls from Snowden’s media team in Rio de Janeiro. Each call lasted less than one minute in order to scuttle wiretapping attempts, he said.The caller summoned him to Rio the next day, and asked him to be at a designated corner of the city at 4 p.m. to collect the documents, Fitte said. He was taken to a “bunker” where he was asked to turn over his cellphone while he collected the material that appeared on TNs website on Friday.A spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said the government would neither confirm nor deny the reports. No one from the Argentine government was immediately available to comment.Former U.S. intelligence contractor Snowden lives in Russia after leaking sensitive information about U.S. surveillance programs.Argentine forces seized the Falklands in 1982 and Britain sent a task force to retake them in a brief war in which more than 600 Argentine and 255 British servicemen were killed.Britain’s government said last week it would reinforce its military presence on the Falklands to counter the “very live threat” posed by Argentina. Argentina dismisses such talk as posturing ahead of upcoming British elections.By Hugh Bronstein2 April 2015BUENOS AIRES, April 2 (Reuters) – Britain should spend more helping its own poor than on defending the Falkland Islands, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said on Thursday, responding to a recently-announced budget increase aimed at protecting the contested archipelago.Britain’s government said last week it would reinforce its military presence on the Falklands to counter the “very live threat” posed by Argentina.Fernandez, in a speech honoring soldiers who died in her country’s failed 1982 invasion of the South Atlantic islands, dismissed the idea of Argentina being a threat, telling Britain to focus instead on fighting poverty within its own borders.“What a paradox,” Fernandez chided, “when there are more than one million Britons eating at the food banks they have had to open in one of the most powerful countries in the world.”“Don’t worry. Don’t spend another pound sterling on defending the Malvinas,” she said, using the Argentina term for the Falklands. “Spend your money feeding the English, on providing jobs for your young people and a better quality of life for the British, because we are not a threat to anyone.”Tensions over the Falklands still simmer more than 30 years after Argentine forces seized the islands and Britain sent a task force to retake them in a brief war which saw more than 600 Argentine and 255 British servicemen killed.Fiery orator Fernandez has stepped up her international campaign to get sovereignty over the islands as oil and gas exploration in the region increases the stakes. She vowed that Argentina would eventually win the Falklands back through diplomatic, not military means.Earlier on Thursday, in a move Fernandez called “almost provocative”, Premier Oil Plc and Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd said they made an oil and gas discovery at a well in the archipelago, the first in a nine-month drilling campaign.The islands lie 300 miles (480 km) off the Argentine coast and 8,000 miles (12,870 km) from Britain. About 2,800 people live on the islands, where the main industries are sheep farming, fishing and some tourism.Britain said last week it plans to deploy two Chinook helicopters to the Falklands beginning in mid-2016, upgrade communications and renew the surface-to-air missile defense system which is due to come out of service in 2020.By John Hopewell3 April 2015It’s not only Hollywood that’s plunging into scaled-up serialized TV dramas — some of Latin America’s biggest broadcasters are pumping up TV fiction budgets and technology, exploring shorter-format production, attaching name directors and creating event series.Latin America’s premium fiction push allows broadcasters — such as behemoths Argentina’s Telefe, Colombia’s Caracol TV, Brazil’s Globo and TV Record — to protect domestic market shares while priming international sales, often at Mip TV and the L.A. Screenings. with some of the most singular Latin American TV dramas hitting the international market in 2015.» In Argentina, director Juan Jose Campanella, who won an Oscar with “The Secret in Their Eyes,” is in production for Telefe on “Entre canibales,” a noirish 120-segment rape revenge thriller involving a presidential candidate which has a cinema sensibility -it’s harder-boiled than most series – is shot in 4K and neutral Spanish, has seen extended development, and stars Natalia Oreiro (“The German Doctor”), Benjamin Vicuna (“Profugos”) and Joaquin Furriel (“The Boss: Anatomy of a Crime”).“The series will help catapult Argentine TV and Telefe to another level,” says Tomas Yankelevich, content and international business director, Telefe.» Sold at Mip TV, Colombia’s Caracol will unveil the 60-segment “Emeralds, the Color of Ambition,” to air late first-half 2015 An emerald mine family saga straddling 35 years and three generations and shot in some 300 locations, it features multiple action sequences, heavy vfx and 1,200 extras and Sony F55 camerawork.» In Brazil, “Moses and the 10 Commandments” bowed March 23 on Brazil’s TV Record, pushing the channel’s March market share up from 12.6% to 13.1%. Billed as an “epic” telenovela, and shot in Rio de Janeiro, Israel, Egypt and Chile, it ranges over 100 episodes and 100 years, promising multiple narrative wrinkles in its desert stretch, and cost 700,000 reals ($219,000) an episode, high by Brazilian standards.» Brazilian TV giant Globo will shop at Mip TV serial killer thriller “Merciless,” boasting scripts from Gloria Perez (“The Clone”), and high-end 4K cameras and post-prod technology, and “The Hunter,” which offers lead Caua Reymond, star of Globo’s mega-hit “Brazil Avenue.”Why the premium productions? One factor: the state of domestic ad markets. While Argentina’s ad market is up 29% in 2014, at $1.9 billion, Argentine TV ad spend is still low in a relatively small country, repping only 40% of total ad expenditure.“Argentine TV is high quality, highly competitive, but its ad market is rather mediocre,” says Telefe’s Yankelevich. Colombia’s TV ad market shows healthier mid-term prospects than Argentina’s, already soaring 69% to $1.6 billion over the 2009-13 frame.Investing millions in re-versioning foreign formats, broadcasters only see upside from domestic. So Telefe has made a big switch to development and international co-production, “making products that aren’t so local, are international-standard,” says Yankelevich. Telefe is talking to many international partners to co-develop and co-produce shows, fiction and non-scripted, he adds.Latin American broadcasters have “recognized they’ve got to produce local content that can compete with the imported content, which means bigger, more ambitious shows with higher production standards,” says Electus founder-CEO Ben Silverman, who sourced Colombia’s “Ugly Betty” and “Jane the Virgin,” a Venezuelan format, for U.S. re-versioning.“Our market has reached really high standards,” says Lisette Osorio, VP of international sales at Caracol TV Intl. “We can’t aim lower, or the public will react. We must be one step ahead.”For TV groups in healthier national markets, Latin America’s higher-end shows are domestic moves with often-international upside. Ambitious fare can also have larger international reach: 2012 event series “Pablo Escobar, the Drug Lord” sold to more than 50 countries. “We sold it everywhere, to countries where we never believed our content would be released,” Osorio says.Wrongly jailed cop thriller “The Hunter,” a 12-segment Globo dramatic series, grabbed a 35% share in both Brazil and Portugal, bowing in Portugal on March 21 in a post-primetime Saturday series slot on SIC, one of its big three broadcasters. “The Hunter” is part of Globo’s macro strategy to engage Brazilian audiences in as many varying ways possible. But as that leads to ever more diversified programming, international benefits as well.