SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's governor on Wednesday announced a historic restructuring of a portion of the U.S. territory's $73 billion debt through courts after negotiations with bondholders failed. The announcement marks the biggest bankruptcy-type process ever for the U.S. municipal bond market.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said that a federal control board overseeing the island's finances agreed with his request late Tuesday to put certain debts before a court.
"We're going to protect our people," he said hours after the U.S. territory was hit with multiple lawsuits from creditors seeking to recuperate the millions of dollars they invested in bonds issued by Puerto Rico's government, which has declared several defaults amid a 10-year recession.
Rossello said one of the lawsuits sought to claim all revenues generated by the island's Treasury Department for bondholders.
"I'm not going to allow that to happen," he said.
Rossello said the debts of certain agencies will be restructured in court, while others will be resolved through ongoing negotiations with bondholders. He said he did not yet have details on the breakdown of those debts. The island's Electric Power Authority has some $9 billion of debt, the Aqueducts and Sewer Authority has roughly $5 billion of debt and the Highways and Transportation Authority has around $7 billion of debt.