Details of the settlement, reached between the city and two
unnamed parties that either own or insure "a large majority" of the
bonds, are in "the final documentation process," and were not
disclosed, according to the mediators' statement.
In its latest debt adjustment plan, Detroit said creditors would
only recover an estimated 10 percent to 13 percent on about $163.5
million of limited-tax GO bonds the city had labeled as being
unsecured. Payment on most of the debt was guaranteed by Ambac
Assurance Corp [ABKFQA.UL], according to city documents.
Earlier this month, Ambac and mutual fund Black Rock Financial
Management were ordered into a mediation session with the city that
was to take place on Thursday.
"The settlement recognizes the unique status and niche of
(limited-tax GO bonds) in the municipal finance market," the
mediators' statement said, adding that the unnamed insurer will
honor "its insurance commitments on the existing policies."
The mediators added that a few but significant disputes remain in
the case. On Aug. 14 a key court hearing will begin to determine if
Detroit's plan to adjust $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest
municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history is fair and feasible.
Those disputes mostly involve bond insurers Syncora Guarantee Inc
[SYCRFS.UL] and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co [FGIC.UL], which
have been pushing for the city to sell pieces at the Detroit
Institute of Arts to raise money for creditors.
The so-called grand bargain in the city's plan was crafted to tap
$466 million in funds pledged by philanthropic foundations and the
art museum and $195 million from the state of Michigan to ease
pension cuts for retired city workers and prevent a sale of art
Kevyn Orr, the city's state-appointed emergency manager, has reeled
in settlements in recent months over the treatment of voter-approved
unlimited-tax GO bonds and with various retiree groups and others.
[to top of second column]
On Friday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees Council 25 - Detroit's biggest labor union - urged city
workers and retirees to vote in favor of Detroit's debt adjustment
plan, according to a statement released by the bankruptcy court,
which has set a July 11 voting deadline.
The statement said that tentative deals reached in April giving
union members protections under a comprehensive collective
bargaining agreement have been completed. Terms of the deals were
not disclosed ahead of a member ratification vote and state approval
that must be completed by June 30.
Council 25 President Al Garrett said in the statement while the
union remains "severely concerned with the way this bankruptcy has
been handled from its inception," the agreements are the best path
forward for workers and retirees.
"They simply cannot risk the further serious reductions in pension,
pay and job security if the plan, and our collective bargaining
agreements, are not approved," Garrett said.
(Reporting by Karen Pierog; editing by G Crosse and James Dalgleish)
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