If the country is allowed the time it needs to sort out its debt issues, all could win in Cuba's post-sanctions landscape.

The agreement between Cuba and 14 sovereign creditors at the end of 2015 marked an important step for the country. After three decades in default, and thanks to unprecedented steps to update its state-run economy, Cuba has had $8.5bn out of $11.1bn-worth total claims forgiven by official creditors, provided that it meets new repayment obligations on time.

Many have described this as a generous deal. Should Cuba soon settle with its commercial creditors, further ‘generosity’ may come its way. A favourable deal with investors grouped under the umbrella of the London Club could have huge upside: private sector investors would cash in on their bets and extend their exposure to an economy that is likely approaching a historical moment – in the shape of the removal of wide-reaching US sanctions – and is serious about attracting foreign investment. By settling commercial claims promptly, on the heels of the official creditors deal, the country would give the definitive message other investors are waiting for: Cuba means business.

Time is key. If Cuba waits until the US embargo is lifted, its foreign reserves may well bulk up, more investment could come in and its ability to repay would improve; but it may also risk facing a different kind of investor at the negotiating table. US hedge funds that are circling around the country may tempt existing debt holders with a quick way out. They will likely have a more short-term view and may aggressively pursue the sovereign in the courts.

Cuba, however, must also be given time to study its opponents before deciding they can be partners, and go though its lengthy system of internal approvals. Cuban authorities have built a reputation for being exceptionally well prepared but also distrustful of foreigners, particularly the US and its sympathisers. The London Club group of investors that is seeking such a deal seems to be doing all the right things. Whether its preferred time schedule can meet Cuba’s sooner rather than later is a big unknown. All would win if it did.


All fields are mandatory

The Banker is a service from the Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd takes your privacy seriously.

Choose how you want us to contact you.

Invites and Offers from The Banker

Receive exclusive personalised event invitations, carefully curated offers and promotions from The Banker

For more information about how we use your data, please refer to our privacy and cookie policies.

Terms and conditions

Top 1000 2023

Request a demonstration to The Banker Database

Join our community

The Banker on Twitter