jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016

Fitch: CITGO Remains on Rating Watch following PDVSA Exchange Extension – MarketWatch

Fuente Web
The extension of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.'s [PDVSA Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) 'CCC'] $5.3 billion debt exchange underscores the Rating Watch Negative on PDVSA subsidiary, CITGO (Long-Term IDR 'B'), according to Fitch Ratings. However, PDVSA's multiple extensions do not bode well for consummation of the debt exchange.

If the PDVSA offer, which has been extended to October 21, expires without the use of CITGO Holding Inc. (HOLDCO, Long-Term IDR 'B-') stock as collateral, Fitch anticipates minimal effect on existing CITGO ratings. On the other hand, if the PDVSA debt exchange does go through as proposed, the ratings linkage between CITGO and parent PDVSA could be strengthened. Potential changes to CITGO's ratings will be based on Fitch's assessment of changes in linkage between PDVSA and CITGO based on the final terms of any exchange or agreement, particularly with regard to a stronger legal connection between the two, as well as the likelihood that triggering the change in control provision would heighten CITGO's probability of default.

Under the original terms of a debt exchange announced on Sept. 16, 2016, PDVSA expected to issue new 8.5% sinking notes due 2022 under a voluntary exchange for two existing bonds: a 8.5% sinking bond with $2.05 billion principal payments due in November 2016 and November 2017 and a $3.0 billion 5.25% bond due in 2017. The exchange offer has the potential to increase CITGO bondholders' exposure to PDVSA default risk through the use of 50.1% of HOLDCO stock as collateral for the new PDVSA notes. However, the situation remains fluid, terms are subject to change and successful execution is questionable. On Oct. 6, ConocoPhillips filed a complaint in Delaware district court under the Delaware Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (DUFTA), which could affect the debt exchange's appeal to lenders, as well as PDVSA's ability to offer HOLDCO equity as collateral.

PDVSA has extended the expiration deadline multiple times, most recently without changing other key terms, after receiving "substantially less" than the 50% minimum acceptance threshold for consummation. Absent an increase in consideration or other change in terms, Fitch believes the exchange offer is less likely to be successful.

Longer term, Fitch believes that in the event of a PDVSA default, PDVSA bondholders may not be successful in attempts to persuade Delaware courts to ignore the corporate separateness of PDVSA and its Delaware entities and attach CITGO assets. However, the potential for arbitral settlements and protracted litigation against PDVSA and Venezuela pose additional risks, primarily related to change-of-control considerations.

Given CITGO's size, asset positioning, cash flow potential, and other factors, Fitch informally estimates that, on a stand-alone basis with no parental rating constraints, CITGO could be rated in the mid-to-high 'BB' range, and potentially investment-grade, depending on the company's capitalization following a change in control.

For more information, see Fitch's report "U.S. Leveraged Finance Spotlight Series: CITGO Petroleum Corp." at www.fitchratings.com

miércoles, 19 de octubre de 2016

These Harvard Economists Offer Differing Views for How to Save Venezuela – Bloomberg

Fuente Web
Six months ago, with Venezuela hurtling toward calamity, one of its most renowned economists living in exile assembled a group of scholars with a decidedly unacademic goal: to save the country. Ricardo Hausmann, 60, a Harvard professor and former government minister, brought together monetary experts, oil engineers and sociologists.

One key player was excluded -- Francisco Rodriguez, 46, a widely-read economist, himself a Harvard PhD, who co-edited a book with Hausmann and once viewed him as a mentor. Stung by the rejection, Rodriguez, now chief economist at Torino Capital, an emerging market investment bank in New York, has pushed forward his own view on how to pull the country back from the brink.

The result is that as the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro holds tightly to power, rejecting humanitarian aid and attempts at political change, two competing visions for the future are being hammered out in two corners of the Northeast of the US by two men, one of whom could get tapped to run economic policy in the future.

Their differences tell a great deal about whether the country of 30 million can recover from its current torpor. One starts by asserting that Venezuela is insolvent and can’t recover without the ouster of the ruling party. The other focuses on dialogue, bridging proposals and the notion that the either/or approach amounts to national suicide.

“They’re both appealing to public opinion and trying to influence what to do with a country in crisis,” said Angel Alayon, an economist who runs Prodavinci, a Venezuelan news and analysis website to which both Hausmann and Rodriguez have contributed.

After nearly 18 years of socialist rule, Venezuela’s citizens are racked by chronic shortages and spiraling inflation while the government scrambles to make good on billions of dollars in bond debts by slashing essential imports. Hausmann says the system cannot be saved.

For a QuickTake explainer on Venezuela’s economy, click here.

“The question is not when the collapse will happen,” he said over lunch near Harvard Square. “This is the collapse.” Hausmann, dismissed as a "financial hit man" by Maduro, says the government is irredeemably incompetent, has trampled on the constitution and Venezuela has no future until it is swept aside.

A government minister in the 1990s before the socialists took power, Hausmann has presented his findings to the political opposition. He says the cash-strapped nation has only one path to salvation: Approach the International Monetary Fund for a multi-billion-dollar loan and assistance in getting the house in order.

“The country cannot survive at these levels of imports,” he says. Venezuela has undergone a drastic belt-tightening ahead of bond payments “in an environment in which no one is willing to lend to it.”

‘Empty Revolution’

Rodriguez, who offers a more optimistic view, was a top budget official during the years when Hugo Chavez was in power. But he is no government apologist. After being overwhelmingly approved by the Chavista-led national assembly in 2000 and then fired by it in 2004, he became a professor in the U.S. and famously wrote an article called “An Empty Revolution: The Unfulfilled Promises of Hugo Chavez." Later, he worked as an often-quoted analyst at Bank of America.

The two economists speak of each other with a mix of respect and irritation. Lacking official data, their quarrel stems partly from differences in estimates of economic indicators that the government refuses to routinely publish, such as gross domestic product and inflation.

“I think that Ricardo is the best Venezuelan economist alive today,” Rodriguez said of his older colleague. “I was very much inspired by his research and he was one of the persons whose writings convinced me to study economics.” But the closed-door nature of the Harvard research upsets him. He calls it “too secretive” and “mistaken.”
Reluctant to Condemn

Their relationship dates back decades. Hausmann became chief economist at the Inter-American Development Bank and after Rodriguez left government, they organized conferences together and edited their book.

Yet Rodriguez’ willingness to work with -- and reluctance to condemn -- those in power has driven a wedge between them.

Asked why he left Rodriguez out, Hausmann said he was in the private sector, posing a potential conflict of interest. Besides, he said, “He doesn’t have a right to be invited everywhere. He has to grow up.”

At a standing-room-only debate on the Venezuelan economy at the Brookings Institution in Washington this week, the two traded subtle barbs while each noted that the other may well hold a key financial job in a post-Maduro government.

Whether Hausmann is right about the IMF, tapping the multilateral lender is a tough sell in Venezuela, where the left considers it anathema.
Broke or Poorly Run?

Rodriguez contends that his country is not broke, just poorly run.

“I do not believe Venezuela is insolvent,” he said in an interview. “It has a very positive balance sheet which, with the right policy, should enable it to regain market access.”

Skeptics point out that as the price of oil continues to slump, the economy is expected shrink for the third consecutive year by 10 percent while inflation surges to near 500 percent.

Rodriguez counters by pointing to the nation’s vast oil reserves (which surpass Saudi Arabia’s) and says that with a new government, Venezuela could obtain the loans it needs from the financial markets. Hausmann calls that a fantasy and says the country needs to restructure its debts. Investors have been bracing for such a move for a while, having driven down the price on the country’s benchmark bonds to less than 50 cents on the dollar.

Rolling Back Chavez Policies

There are elements that the plans have in common. Both want to roll back many Chavez-era policies, such as the tangled web of price and currency controls, multi-tiered exchange rates and low gas and utility prices. They disagree over how to handle the debt but the central gap is over whom to work with.

Rodriguez recently helped create policy recommendations for the Maduro administration but they were largely disregarded. He now hopes to bridge Chavistas with the opposition.

Hausmann wants Maduro to step down. In 2014, Maduro labeled him a “bandit” and vowed legal action after Hausmann wrote an essay suggesting that the government default on bondholders since it had failed to provide its citizens with food and medicine.

With Venezuela continuing its slide toward financial abyss, the two economists’ approaches are widely seen as the poles of any future discussion.

“They are the reference points,” said Francisco Toro, editor of the popular blog, Caracas Chronicles. “If this debate hadn’t developed, it wouldn’t even be clear what we should be arguing about.”

PdV investor call backfires: participants – Argus Media

Fuente Web
Venezuelan energy minister Eulogio Del Pino's hastily organized conference call with investors yesterday to discuss the status of state-owned PdV's bond swap proposal appears to have backfired.

Five financial executives who were on the 11am call, which was organized by Deutsche Bank, said the initiative confirmed a broad lack of confidence in the oil company's ability to meet its near-term obligations.

Del Pino, who is also PdV chief executive, was not on the call, apparently because of a last-minute urgent meeting with President Nicolas Maduro. Del Pino's chief of staff Rafael Rodriguez gave a presentation in his place, reiterating a warning that the company will default if the swap offer is not implemented.

PdV is seeking to persuade a minimum threshold of bondholders to exchange two 2017 bonds for one new 2020 bond, because the firm does not have enough cash to meet approaching payment obligations.

"PdV's carrot, sweetening the swap terms by offering 1.2 PdV 2020 bonds in exchange for 1 PdV 2017 bond didn't work, so the carrot approach was abandoned in favor of the stick," one participant said. "But PdV's stick approach as presented by Rodriguez, who explicitly warned that default may be the only option left if the bond swap is called off for lack of interest, inflicted more damage on a transaction that's been poorly managed by Del Pino and the government since it was launched on 16 September."

PdV is seeking to exchange two PdV 2017 bonds with a combined $7.1bn of outstanding principal as of 16 September for a new PdV 2020 bond with an 8.5pc coupon, and backed by 50.1pc of the equity in Citgo Holding, a Delaware corporation that owns Citgo's refineries and some pipeline assets in the US.

PdV has three times extended the original 6 October deadline for signing up for the bond swap, first to 12 October, then 17 October and currently 21 October.

Another extension is possible as PdV struggles to entice PdV 2017 bondholders to commit to exchanging up to 50pc of the aggregate value of the maturing bonds, or $3.55bn, three people who listened in on yesterday's conference call agreed.

PdV's offering prospectus stipulates that it can cancel the bond swap if the 50pc participation threshold is not reached.

Rodriguez conceded in yesterday's call that the current participation rate remains "substantially" below 50pc, but declined to give a number.

Argus tried to reach Rodriguez at his office in Caracas, but his secretary said he is traveling.

Two Caracas-based traders put the swap offer's participation as of yesterday at up to 40pc.

Rodriguez revealed that Venezuelan government entities currently hold "substantially fewer PdV 2017 bonds than the energy ministry and the company believed was the case," a trader who was on the call said.

The government said at the start of 2016 that Venezuelan state-owned entities held over 20pc of PdV's total bond debt of over $36bn. But Rodriguez said yesterday that the total PdV bond holdings of other state entities have changed over the course of this year.

Rodriguez also clarified during the call that Del Pino did not pledge that PdV would pay in full all PdV 2017 bondholders that decline to swap out to the PdV 2020 bond.

PdV staring down bankruptcy path – Argus Media

Fuente Web
Venezuelan state-owned PdV's foundering effort to restructure its dollar-denominated debt is stirring questions over how the oil company would manage a looming breach of its financial obligations.

Today is the latest deadline on PdV's offer to restructure near-term debt. The company twice extended the deadline to try to persuade skeptical bondholders to participate.

PdV wants to exchange up to $7.1bn of bonds maturing in 2017 for a new 2020 bond. A combined $3.3bn of bond principal comes due on 28 October and 2 November. A further $6bn of bond principal and interest matures in first-half 2017, including $3bn in April, raising PdV's total bond payment obligations from October 2016 to 30 June 2017 to over $9.3bn.

Absent a restructuring, PdV does not have the cash reserves to fulfill these scheduled payments. The company said before the most recent deadline extension that substantially less than a 50pc threshold of bondholders had agreed to participate so far. The participation rate as of 14 October was less than 40pc, an energy ministry official said.

The weak turnout, reflecting bondholders' lack of confidence in the company's future ability to honor the debt and in the integrity of the transaction itself, suggests that PdV will be forced to choose between an orderly or disorderly default, local and overseas attorneys and financial analysts say.

One orderly scenario gaining credence would involve PdV seeking legal protection from its creditors in a Venezuelan court. From there PdV would file petitions in the US and other legal jurisdictions seeking a debt standstill ruling that would prevent creditors from trying to seize the company's overseas assets, including its US downstream subsidiary Citgo. PdV's attorneys likely would argue before a US court that a standstill ruling is needed to allow PdV to continue operating internationally while it engages creditors in restructuring talks.

PdV's lawyers would argue that Venezuela is the only valid jurisdiction to hammer out a debt restructuring with creditors. But Venezuela's commercial code does not include provisions for US-style business reorganization and debt restructuring. Instead, Venezuela's commercial code provides for the liquidation of companies that are insolvent and in arrears on their debts.

The process can easily take a decade or longer in Venezuela's notoriously slow and corrupt courts. PdV is likeliest to pursue such a course that allows it to continue operations without fear of asset seizures, while it deploys lawyers in Venezuela and the US to delay rulings and judgments in the hope of a strong rebound in oil prices.

The risk for the Venezuelan government is that a prolonged multi-jurisdictional legal process would exacerbate the huge political fallout of a bankruptcy declaration itself, although the Venezuelan government has proved adept at messaging in increasingly adverse circumstances.

On the other hand, a messier unilateral cessation of payments could spill over onto market perceptions about the risks of Venezuela's sovereign debt and impact the company´s day-to-day oil operations.

PdV accounts for about 80pc of the $15bn of total sovereign and PdV bond principal and interest payments due from October 2016 through end-2017. Venezuela's total foreign debt is over $120bn, the central bank says. The government has less than $12bn in hard currency reserves.

It is also possible that PdV could be bailed out by strategic partners such as China and Russia.

Rosneft this month agreed to invest $20bn in five Orinoco upstream joint ventures with a combined output of 170,000 b/d.

Beijing has lent Venezuela more than $50bn in oil-backed loans over the past decade, part of which has already been retired.

PdV´s other foreign partners have also stepped in recently. Repsol this month also opened a $1.2bn line of credit for its Petroquiriquire joint venture to double mostly light crude output to 60,000 b/d within five years. Most of the production increase is earmarked for blending with Orinoco extra-heavy crude by the PetroCarabobo venture in which Repsol holds an 11pc stake.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro is hoping to stay afloat financially as oil prices gradually head north, a trend it expects Opec will accelerate by implementing a production freeze or coordinated production cuts at its 30 November meeting in Vienna. Non-Opec Russia is seen as joining the agreement as well.

Maduro said last week that even $70/bl oil is too low a price, and called for a 10-year market stabilization pact between Opec and non-Opec producers with the aim of sustaining significantly higher oil prices and wresting control of prices and markets back from "speculators."

Venezuela's average weekly oil price closed at $43.09/bl for the week ending 14 October, and PdV's year-to-date export price averages $33.77/bl, the energy ministry reports.

Oswaldo Cisneros invertirá US$1.000 millones en un proyecto petrolero controlado por Venezuela – WSJ

Fuente Web
El multimillonario Oswaldo Cisneros, uno de los hombres más ricos de Venezuela, invertirá US$1.000 millones en un campo petrolero controlado por el Estado, en momentos en que el gobierno busca atraer a más fondos privados a su atribulado sector energético.

Un grupo de hombres de negocios venezolanos, liderado por Cisneros y autodenominados como Delta Petroleum NV firmará un acuerdo la próxima semana para invertir US$800 millones en la empresa conjunta PetroDelta junto a la estatal Petróleos de Venezuela SA, en el oriente del país, indicó el presidente de PDVSA y un portavoz de Cisneros. A principios de este mes, Cisneros completó la compra del 32% de PetroDelta a la estadounidense Harvest Natural Resources Inc. y la argentina Pluspetrol por cerca de US$200 millones en efectivo y acciones.

El acuerdo más reciente se presenta en momentos en que PDVSA pasa apuros con una caída de la producción. El presidente de la petrolera, Eulogio del Pino, dijo en una entrevista con este diario que desea atraer más inversionistas venezolanos a los campos maduros e impulsar la producción.

PetroDelta es la más reciente en una serie de empresas petroleras de bajo perfil para Cisneros, un emprendedor de 76 años que hizo su fortuna con empresas de telefonía celular y azúcar. En los últimos dos años, compró participaciones en la empresa conjunta PetroCabimas en el occidente de Venezuela y en el productor colombiano Canacol Energy Ltd. También compró la rama venezolana de la danesa Maersk Drilling.

Cisneros planea elevar la producción de PetroDelta de 40.000 barriles al día a 115.000 barriles al día en los próximos tres años, dijo su portavoz. La producción total de crudo de Venezuela cayó 11% en los 12 meses previos a septiembre a 2,3 millones de barriles al día, el descenso más profundo entre los grandes productores con excepción de Nigeria.

Manteniendo un bajo perfil, Cisneros ha sido uno de los pocos capitanes de industria en Venezuela de su generación que continúa prosperando bajo el gobierno socialista de Nicolás Maduro y su predecesor, Hugo Chávez. Ambos presidentes han culpado a la clase industrial, a la que han llamado “la oligarquía podrida” de buscar derrocar a su gobierno.

Su primo Ricardo Cisneros dirige la segunda cervecera más grande del país, Cervecería Regional y otro primo, Gustavo Cisneros, posee la mayor cadena de TV nacional, Venevisión. Ninguno de esos negocios ha sido tocado por las expropiaciones o las auditorías frecuentes de las que se quejan sus competidores, dicen fuentes al tanto.

PDVSA Default Talk Might Be a Bluff, But Traders Are Uneasy – Bloomberg

Fuente Web
As Petroleos de Venezuela SA bonds fall amid the company’s implicit threat to default if it doesn’t get debt relief, some creditors are prepared to call the oil producer’s bluff.

Lutz Roehmeyer, who oversees about $12 billion at Landesbank Berlin Investment, says he won’t exchange his PDVSA notes for longer-maturity securities despite the company’s
warning Monday that it may have to halt payments if more bondholders don’t agree to its proposed swap.

That comes as the cash-strapped crude producer extended its deadline for investors to exchange as much as $5.325 billion of bonds for a third time after falling “substantially” short of its goal of swapping at least half of its securities due in 2017.

“I don’t think a default is closer,” Roehmeyer said. “What has changed over the past month in fundamentals? Not much. This is the usual moral persuasion to convince investors to
participate. PDVSA has to make some threat or introduce a sweetener to increase participation.”

PDVSA’s $1 billion of bonds due next week fell 1.31 cent to 93.73 cents as of 8:33 a.m. in New York, signaling growing doubts the payment will be made. The company’s notes due
November 2017 -- one of the securities targeted in the swap -- fell 1.03 cent to 82.6 cents.
In a conference call Tuesday, PDVSA reiterated that it won’t improve its offer, according to Jorge Piedrahita, the chief executive officer of brokerage Torino Capital LLC.

Venezuela is ratcheting up pressure on bondholders to take the deal as its economy reels from depressed oil prices, dwindling hard currency and political infighting.

PDVSA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on speculation that it’s bluffing.

Bonds issued by PDVSA and Venezuela’s government declined after Tuesday’s call, with longer-dated notes posting the biggest losses.

Knossos Asset Management’s Daniel Urdaneta, who was also on the call, said it’s hard to tell whether the company’s default talk is just that. He said his Caracas-based hedge fund had already agreed to participate in the debt exchange.

After initially offering investors $1,000 of the new securities for every $1,000 of the old bonds, PDVSA on Sept. 26 improved the deal by pledging $1,170 of the April 2017 securities tendered before the early deadline and $1,220 for the November 2017 bonds.
Despite increasing speculation that Venezuela and PDVSA would default in recent years, the country and the company have always managed to defy the odds and honor their bonds.

“It’s either a very high-stakes bluff or the unraveling of a house of cards at the worst possible moment,” Urdaneta said. “They’ve done so much to keep servicing their debts. It just seems crazy that they’re going to fail now.”

The circular economy: Moving from theory to practice - McKinsey & Company

Fuente Web
A special collection of articles about the transition taking place as companies use circular-economy concepts to capture more value from resources and to provide customers with better experiences.

Read the entire report here.

Oil majors experiment with technology to weather crisis, by Karolin Schaps and Jessica Jaganathan – REUTERS

Oil majors including Statoil, Shell and Chevron are experimenting with various technologies, from drones and drill design to data management, to drive down costs and weather a deep downturn.

Crude prices have more than halved since mid-2014, forcing companies to cut billions of dollars in costs. Determined to shield dividends and preserve the infrastructure that will allow them to compete and grow if the market recovers, they are increasingly looking to smarter tech and design to make savings.

French oil and gas major Total said it was now using drones to carry out detailed inspections on some of its oil fields following a trial at one of its Elgin/Franklin platforms in the North Sea.

Cyberhawk, the drone company that led the trial, said this kind of work was previously carried out by engineers who suspended themselves from ropes at dizzying heights. It said the manned inspection used to take seven separate two-week trips with a 12-man team that had to be flown in and accommodated on site.

The drones do the work in two days and at about a tenth of the cost, according to the Britain-based firm's founder Malcolm Connolly, who said it had also worked with ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips and BP.

Total declined to comment on how long the manned or drone inspections took, or specify how much money was saved.

Statoil's giant Johan Sverdrup field, the largest North Sea oil find in three decades which is due to start production in 2019, is a leading industry case study for cutting costs in the era of cheap oil.

The Norwegian company has cut its development costs for the first stage of the project by a fifth compared with estimates given in early 2015, to 99 billion crowns ($12.2 billion).

The savings have largely been made by focusing on the most efficient technology and designs from the beginning, Statoil's head of technology Margareth Oevrum told Reuters in an interview.

Executives say the growing attention on technologies that have been around for some time shows how wasteful the global industry had been in the years before the downturn when - with crude at above $100 a barrel delivering bumper profits - oil companies' had little incentive to develop fields efficiently.

For example, simply finding a more efficient route for the oil pipeline that would carry the crude from the Sverdrup field to the onshore refinery cut 1 billion crowns, Statoil said.


Statoil has also developed a drilling "template" that is acting as a guide for the first eight wells to be drilled at the field. It said it had reduced the overall drilling time by more than 50 days, saving about 150 million crowns per production well compared with what it would have cost with 2013 techniques.

"By far the biggest driver (of savings) has been simplification," said Oevrum. "To think much simpler and start from the bottom, or the bare bone, and then rather add to that, instead of starting very big."

The company could not give a figure for its group savings made from improved technology and design. But it said that, partly because of such innovations, projects set to start production by 2022 would be able to make a profit with an oil price at $41 a barrel, down from $70 in 2013.

Global upstream - exploration and production - oil and gas spending has fallen by more than $300 billion across the industry in 2015-16, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), roughly equivalent to the annual GDP of South Africa. Around two-thirds comes from cost cuts, rather than cancelling or shelving projects, it said.

Shell, for example, has developed a new type of pipe, called a steel lazy wave riser, to carry oil and gas from its deepwater Stones field in the Gulf of Mexico for processing. It bends to absorb the motion of the sea and the floating platform, which the company says boosts production at extreme depths.

The Anglo-Dutch major could not say how much the pipes contributed to increased efficiency, but said innovations at Stones had played a significant part in cost savings of $1.8 billion in its projects and technology division last year - equivalent to the 2015 core profits in its upstream division.

The fall in oil prices has led to the introduction of other new engineering and maintenance techniques.

Chevron is using a robotic device to clean and check the inside of pipelines on their Erskine field in the North Sea more quickly. The improvement has helped raise the field's daily production rate to the highest in two years.

Oil services firm Amec Foster Wheeler, working for BG Group which is now part of Shell, has applied a new technique to remove the pillars of an old platform, a procedure that is often dangerous because corroded elements can slip off.

It pumped in expanding foam to hold the pillar's elements together, allowing workers to safely cut the metal away. This work took just over seven weeks instead of the 22 weeks typically needed using traditional methods.

Alex Brooks, oil and gas equity analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said tech innovation in the industry was about "100 tiny things", adding: "The bottom line is you end up with a much lower cost."

The downturn has presented opportunities for some services firms that can offer cost-saving innovations. Inspection drone firm Cyberhawk, for instance, said its revenue from oil and gas had doubled from mid-2014 to mid-2016, while the wider inspection market had shrunk.

Read the entire report here.

El proyecto que no fue: Las cinco polémicas estructuras arquitectónicas de Caracas, por Nazareth Balbás – RT

Abandonados, a medio hacer, en remodelación o condenados al "mientras tanto y por si acaso". Estos edificios, ubicados en la ciudad de Caracas, hablan del ritmo -y el espíritu- de una capital que siempre está debatiéndose entre la memoria demolida y la historia por construirse.

Ya es moneda corriente decir que Caracas es una ciudad provisional, la del "mientras tanto y por si acaso". Siete de sus edificios lo confirman.

Un paseo raudo por el carozo de la capital es suficiente para ver construcciones que hablan de un pasado que no fue, una gloria inconclusa o el intento por una modernidad ajada por el tiempo y el devenir político.

En una entrevista hecha en 1994 por la periodista Milagros Socorro, el dramaturgo José Ignacio Cabrujas consideró que el drama de los habitantes de Caracas es que siempre sueñan con el día en que se concluya la ciudad: "De allí que el caraqueño goce con el espectáculo de la destrucción de aquello que considera provisional, esperando que en ese hueco aparezca lo definitivo".

Hotel Humboldt

Es el hotel más alto de la ciudad. Ubicado a más de 2.000 metros sobre el nivel del mar sobre el cerro Ávila, se divisa desde casi cualquier punto de Caracas.

Diseñado por el arquitecto Tomás Sanabria y construido en 1956, durante la dictadura de Marcos Pérez Jiménez, este hotel cinco estrellas ha vivido varios ocasos y casi ningún esplendor. El derrocamiento del dictador fue su condena.

En los años 60 del siglo pasado, los gobiernos cedieron el hotel a la cadena Sheraton, pero la franquicia fracasó y decidió cerrarlo. Dos décadas después fue reabierto junto al sistema teleférico y convertido en escuela de turismo, lo que deterioró ostensiblemente sus instalaciones. Fue privatizado en 1998 pero la restauración no se concluyó y en 2007 pasó a manos del Estado, que ha anunciado su próxima reapertura.

Los vigilantes que resguardan la edificación, que en ocasiones desaprece bajo la intensa neblina del lugar, cuentan que han visto fantasmas o "aparecidos" en las instalaciones. Los accidentes que afectaron el normal funcionamiento del hotel y la mala fama por su cúmulo de fracasos han alimentado las leyendas a su alrededor. Si bien se construyó en seis meses, no ha tenido ni una sola época dorada en sus 60 años de vida.

Galería de Arte Nacional (GAN)

La Galería de Arte Nacional es otro edificio que aún no se ha terminado de construir. Aunque su arquitecto, el español Carlos Gómez Llarena, comenzó el proyecto en 1986 y estimaba culminarlo en dos años y medio, no fue sino en 2009 cuando se inauguró una primera fase por el gobierno del Hugo Chávez.

Ubicado cerca de la estación del metro Bellas Artes, el edificio de magnitudes sauditas es el museo más grande de América Latina y el principal de Venezuela. Sin embargo, está asentado justo al lado de un mercado de buhoneros y su estructura exterior exhibe vigas desnudas (y oxidadas) por una segunda fase que todavía no tiene fecha de inicio.

En una entrevista ofrecida a la periodista Lisa Blackmore, en la víspera de la inauguración de la GAN en 2009, Gómez Llarena ya auguraba ese destino: "Creo que hay que tener paciencia. Todavía queda mucho por hacer. Seguramente habrá otra inauguración el año que viene".

Torre de David

Realmente se llama Centro Financiero Confinanzas, pero fue rebautizado en honor al banquero que ideó su construcción en 1990: David Brillembourg, a quien apodaban el 'Rey David'.

En su momento iba a ser el octavo rascacielos más alto de América Latina pero la repentina muerte de Brillembourg, en 1993, paralizó su construcción y la crisis bancaria de 1994 terminó por derribar las ambiciones arquitectónicas de este edificio ubicado en las faldas de la avenida Urdaneta, en el centro de Caracas.

A partir de 2007, la historia del edificio dio un vuelco. Cientos de familias de bajos recursos invadieron la construcción y establecieron una ciudadela vertical improvisada a la que se subía, piso a piso, solo de dos maneras: a pie o en moto. Naturalmente, no había ascensores. En 2015, el Ejecutivo nacional procedió a desalojar y reubicar a sus habitantes.

En 2012, la Bienal de Arquitectura de Venecia premió la Torre de David. ¿Por qué? Según el fallo, por el hecho de que sus habitantes hubiesen "creado una nueva comunidad y una casa a partir de un edificio abandonado e incompleto".

La Quinta Mamá

El último dictador de Venezuela fue el general Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Su régimen culminó el 23 de enero de 1958 y tras su caída se descubrieron varias de las lujosas propiedades de sus familiares más cercanos, entre ellas la Quinta Mamá, ubicada en la exclusiva zona del Country Club.

De lejos parece una torta de cumpleaños. Coronada por una cúpula que funcionaba como observatorio, la casa parece estar abandonada y aunque se desconoce quiénes son sus actuales dueños, a veces es usada como locación para grabar comerciales o telenovelas.

Según la cuenta de Twitter de Arquitectura Venezuela, el particular domo contaba con un telescopio de la marca alemana Carl Zeiss, que fue dañado después de los saqueos que sufrió la propiedad con la llegada de la democracia.

Una piscina en forma de guitarra, escaleras de caracol, fuentes, mosaicos, vitrales y pasadizos subterráneos son algunas de sus singulares características.

El Helicoide

De los proyectos faraónicos inconclusos, es el más emblemático de la ciudad porque hasta tiene forma de pirámide. La historiadora Celeste Olalquiaga, en un artículo publicado en la revista Prodavinci, califica la estructura como una especie de Babel tropical.

Fue erigido durante el régimen del dictador Pérez Jiménez. El sueño de una Venezuela "moderna" llevó a los arquitectos Pedro Neuberger, Dirk Bornhorst y Jorge Romero Gutiérrez a diseñar la colosal estructura que pretendía convertirse en un centro comercial y exposición industrial con hotel cinco estrellas, un parque y un anfiteatro para espectáculos en el cerro de Roca Tarpeya, entre las parroquias San Pedro y San Agustín.

Salvador Dalí se ofreció a decorarlo, el poeta Pablo Neruda lo calificó como una "de las creaciones más exquisitas que jamás nacieran de la mente de un arquitecto". Pero la caída del dictador también fue su ruina, cuenta Olalquiaga. Y el proyecto se paralizó.

"Caracas, fiel a su temperamento moderno que mira siempre hacia adelante y nunca hacia atrás, continuó su camino, olvidando a esa magnífica espiral que había buscado llegar al cielo del consumo", escribe la historiadora.

Aunque desde la década de lo 60 del siglo pasado se intentó revivir la estructura con proyectos culturales, sociales y comerciales, nunca fructificaron. En la actualidad es utilizado como sede de los servicios de inteligencia.

Como diría Cabrujas sobre Caracas: "Conviene recordar que fue ciudad de locos / al norte de una empresa / que entrar en ella era bajar de la montaña / y que todo iba a ser mejor mañana / que una cosa antes de ser, se parecía / así la gente, así la música / así esta historia / Siempre al norte, mientras tanto y por si acaso".

Harvest Natural Resources Announces Closing Of Sale Of Venezuelan Interests - HNR

Fuente Web
Harvest Natural Resources, Inc. (Harvest or the Company) (HNR) has sold all of its Venezuelan interests in a closing that became effective this morning.  The closing occurred in accordance with Harvest's previously announced share purchase agreement dated June 29, 2016 among Harvest, its subsidiary HNR Energia B.V. and CT Energy Holding SRL.  Delta Petroleum N.V., as a permitted assignee, fulfilled CT Energy's obligations under the share purchase agreement.  Harvest's stockholders approved the transaction on September 15, 2016.

At the closing, Harvest received $80 million in cash, a $12 million six-month 11% note payable to Harvest by the purchaser, and cancellation of $30 million in debt owed by Harvest to CT Energy.  Harvest used part of this cash consideration to pay the remaining debt it owed to CT Energy and for other expenses and adjustments associated with the transaction.  Net cash proceeds received after paying the above closing adjustments and other expenses was $69.4 million.  Also at the closing, CT Energy relinquished its 8,667,597 shares of Harvest common stock, which will be held as treasury shares, and agreed to terminate the warrant, issued in June 2015, to purchase up to an additional 34,070,820 shares of Harvest common stock.  With the return of the shares held by CT Energy, Harvest now has 44,318,567 outstanding shares. 

After receiving payment of the purchaser's note payable of $12.0 million less taxes, funding a reserve for potential change of control payments and working capital, the estimated cash remaining is expected to be $62 million.  Upon the potential exercise of vested options held by employees, the estimated outstanding shares of Harvest common stock is expected to be 48,693,768 shares.

As a result of the transaction, Harvest has ceased to have a presence in Venezuela, two of the directors appointed by CT Energy to Harvest's board resigned, Harvest owes no debt to CT Energy, and the relationship between Harvest and CT Energy has terminated.

Going forward, Harvest's primary tangible asset is its oil and gas interests in Gabon.  Harvest has received two proposals for the purchase of its Gabon interests and is in discussions with both potential buyers; however, there can be no assurances that these discussions or either proposal may lead to a definitive transaction.  Harvest is currently evaluating the possible sale of its Gabon interests, distributions of cash to its stockholders, and possible dissolution of the Company.

Concurrently with the closing of Harvest's sale of its Venezuelan interests (through the sale of its 51% equity interest in Harvest-Vinccler Dutch Holding B.V.), Petroandina Resources Corporation N.V. sold its 29% equity interest in Harvest-Vinccler to the same purchaser.  As a result, the parties terminated the December 2013 shareholders' agreement regarding their holdings in Harvest-Vinccler, Petroandina released Harvest from all claims in connection with the shareholders' agreement, and Petroandina's lawsuit against Harvest and HNR Energia is expected to be dismissed by the Delaware Court of Chancery next week, in accordance with Harvest's settlement agreement with Petroandina.