Lazard, Clifford Chance reach Sri Lanka to advise on debt restructure – PM

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FILE PHOTO: Wickremesinghe sworn-in as Sri Lankan prime minister

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Representatives from heavyweight financial and legal advisers Lazard and Clifford Chance arrived in Sri Lanka to kick off the restructuring of over $12 billion in debt, the island nation’s prime minister said on Tuesday.

The advisers reached the country a week before a delegation from the International Monetary Fund is expected in Colombo for bailout talks.

Last month Reuters reported that Sri Lanka had hired Lazard, which has handled debt talks for dozens of crisis-strained countries in recent years, and law firm Clifford Chance to renegotiate its debts.

“We have to restructure our debt. Representatives from Lazard’s and Clifford Chance have arrived in Sri Lanka to advise us on this process,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a video statement.

Sri Lanka was officially declared in default for the first time ever after it halted debt payments in May.

(Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe, Editing by William Maclean)