(Bloomberg) -- A group representing Sri Lanka’s creditors has expanded to about 20 firms, people with knowledge of the matter said, with the defaulting country expected to start readying an advisory team soon.
Pacific Investment Management Co., T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and BlackRock Inc. belong to the group representing some of its largest creditors and restructuring talks are expected to start soon, the people said, requesting anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. AllianceBernstein LP and Wellington Management Group are also members.
The creditor group represents significant holdings. BlackRock and Pimco are the two largest reported holders of Sri Lankan sovereign debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Rothschild & Co. is acting as the group’s financial adviser, the people said, while White & Case LLP is its legal adviser, a spokesperson for White & Case said, declining to provide details.
Spokespeople at Rothschild and Pimco declined to comment. Representatives for the other firms didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sri Lanka fell into default this week for the first time in its history as the government struggles to halt an economic meltdown that prompted mass protests and a political crisis. Public anger boiled over into violent protests and led officials to say they would halt foreign debt payments to preserve cash for essential goods.
Sri Lanka has been mired in turmoil amid surging inflation, a plummeting currency and a shortage of the hard currency it needs to import food and fuel. The government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout and has previously said it needs between $3 billion and $4 billion this year to pull itself out of crisis.
“We assume that Sri Lanka will eventually reach an agreement with the IMF for a funded programme. However, finalising the programme will likely take several months given the need for staff level agreement on both sides, followed by parliamentary approval in Sri Lanka and approval by the IMF’s executive board,” analysts at Moody’s Investors Service led by Christian Fang wrote in a note.
An agreement that unlocks large external financing could gradually restore foreign investor confidence and bring in private sector investment, Moody’s said.
READ MORE: How Sri Lanka Landed in a Crisis and What It Means: QuickTake
Authorities hope to present to the cabinet their recommendations for legal advisers in the restructuring, central bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe told reporters in Colombo on Thursday.
Several dozen firms bid for the role and authorities are expected to announce the appointment soon, people familiar with the matter said.
(Adds details of Sri Lankan crisis to seventh paragraph. An earlier version of the story was corrected to remove a reference to Pharo Management in the second paragraph.)
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