Solving the Pari Passu Puzzle: The Market Still Knows Best

Capital Markets Law Journal (Forthcoming)

19 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2017

Date Written: April 10, 2017


As a result of the Argentine sovereign debt crisis and ensuing holdout litigation saga, the pari passu (or ranking) clause became a source of great consternation in the international sovereign bond market. Specifically, Judge Griesa’s holding that Argentina had violated the pari passu clause by refusing to pay creditors who had not participated in the nation’s earlier debt exchanges, and accompanying requirement that Argentina had to pay those holdout bondholders, led to uncertainty in the market regarding the leverage holdouts could exercise in sovereign debt restructurings going forward. Concern was expressed over the ability of sovereigns to succeed with voluntary exchange offers premised on the threat that the restructuring sovereign would default on payments due to non-participating bondholders. This article evaluates the impact of the court’s decision in the Argentine litigation to date and discusses the adoption of improved ranking clauses and collective action voting clauses in recent issuances of sovereign debt in the effort to bring greater certainty to market participants and facilitate efficient restructurings in the future without the need for extra-contractual restructuring mechanisms and remedies.

Keywords: Sovereign Debt, Restructuring, NML v. Argentina, Pari Passu, Collective Action Clause, Ranking Clause

JEL Classification: F34, F33, G15, H63, H87

Suggested Citation

Galvis, Sergio J., Solving the Pari Passu Puzzle: The Market Still Knows Best (April 10, 2017). Capital Markets Law Journal (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

Sergio J. Galvis (Contact Author)

Sullivan & Cromwell ( email )

125 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004-2400
United States

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