Venezuela launches $7 billion bond swap to ease debt burden

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) " Venezuela's state-owned oil giant PDVSA is seeking to swap $7 billion in bonds as it struggles to pump the socialist-run economy out of a deep crisis.

The proposal was announced Tuesday by PDVSA President Eulogio Del Pino. He said investors who exchange bonds coming due this year and next would receive a new bond maturing in 2020 backed by shares in PDVSA's Citgo unit in the U.S.

Del Pino said the swap would free up strapped resources amid low crude prices the government blames for Venezuela's widespread shortages and economic slump. Seven-billion dollars represents more than half of Venezuela's international currency reserves.

While the debt deal gives PDVSA some breathing room investors remain skeptical Venezuela can turn around years of production declines amid heavy government intervention in the oil industry.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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