(Bloomberg) -- A group of Venezuela bondholders hired Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as its new legal adviser as they gear up to eventually negotiate a massive debt restructuring with the government.

The Venezuela Creditor Committee, which holds more than $10 billion of defaulted government and state oil company bonds, said in a statement it had retained the San Francisco-based firm. It previously worked with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP as its legal adviser.

Reworking Venezuela’s debt would be one of the largest and most complex processes for a developing nation in years — the country owes roughly $154 billion, including more than $60 billion to bondholders and has been in default since 2017. What’s more, Washington has economic sanctions in place on President Nicolas Maduro’s government that prohibit any negotiations from taking place with US-based investors. 

The committee, which includes Greylock Capital Management, Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC, Mangart Capital, T Rowe Price Associates Inc. and Fidelity Investments, plans to request from the US a permit to start those talks, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity as the talks are private.

The possibility of debt talks got a significant push following Venezuela’s decision to retain Rothschild & Co. to map out the country’s defaulted pile.

Venezuela bonds edged higher following the news, with sovereign notes due in 2027 pricing around 18.5 cents on the dollar, according to traders and data compiled by Bloomberg. The debt got an extra push after the UN Secretary General’s office announced it was sending an expert panel to monitor presidential elections in July.

President Nicolás Maduro is running against opposition unity candidate Edmundo Gonzalez, who has the support of the major political parties. Holding a fair vote could trigger further easing of US sanctions. The committee plans to request the license from the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control regardless of the outcome, the people said. 

Orrick has vast experience in working on sovereign debt restructurings, most recently advising international creditors on negotiations with Ghana, which were led by lawyer Thomas Laryea, who formerly held a position with the International Monetary Fund.

“We are excited to work with Orrick on Venezuela. Thomas Laryea has great experience in sovereign restructurings,” said Hans Humes, founding partner at Greylock, a creditor committee member. “Orrick is also uniquely positioned to engage constructively with G7 Treasuries, the IMF and other official sector groups.”

(Updates with bond prices in sixth paragraph.)

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