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Assured Guaranty CEO favors Guam, Virgin Islands' approach to debt repayment

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Assured Guaranty CEO favors Guam, Virgin Islands' approach to debt repayment

Assured Guaranty Ltd. President and CEO Dominic John Frederico is again sharply criticizing Puerto Rico's most recent fiscal plan, and contrasted the island commonwealth's approach to deal with debt repayments with those of other U.S. territories and municipalities.

"While Puerto Rico seeks to avoid paying its debt, U.S. territories like Guam and the Virgin Islands have expressed their intention to fully repay their debt obligations and respect the rights of creditors and the rule of law," Frederico said on a call to discuss fourth-quarter 2017 earnings.

The most recent fiscal plan provides "neither a path to an economic revitalization and restoration of capital market access nor a credible basis for debt restructuring," Frederico said. Assured Guaranty and other creditors have sent a public letter to Puerto Rico's oversight board that outlined the plan's "many deficiencies."

Among other things, the plan both assumes a major population decrease, while also anticipating a sharp increase in healthcare and government expenses. It also provides no information about a "meaningful reduction" in government spending, the Assured Guaranty CEO said. Meanwhile, the allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars for litigation expenses and adviser fees in the plan, while providing no debt service, reflects "the government's determination to litigate rather than involve creditors and other stakeholders in developing a comprehensive consensual solution," he said.

Frederico has called on Puerto Rico to provide the "transparent" disclosure of its audited 2015 and 2016 financial statements, the data underlying the government's assumptions, and updated information about all financial accounts available to the government.