A US court-appointed mediator said Friday that there had been progress between Argentina and its "holdout" hedge fund creditors but that no deal had been reached.
"Intensive discussions are continuing between the Republic of Argentina and major 'holdout' bondholders, including NML Capital Ltd., under my supervision," said the mediator, Daniel Pollack.
"No agreement in principle has been reached or signed as yet, but progress has been made. All concerned are working diligently," he said in a statement, noting that the "senior-most officials" from both sides were involved in the talks.
The statement raised hopes of a deal that could bring to a close a decade of legal jousting over Argentina's refusal to pay bondholders which refused to join the majority of the country's creditors in restructuring the nearly $100 billion in debt it defaulted on in 2001.
In 2012 a New York court ruled in favor of NML, Aurelius Capital Management and other holdouts demanding full payment on their bonds, even though the country's other creditors had accepted huge writedowns to help Buenos Aires get back on its financial feet.
The government of then-president Cristina Kirchner had refused to pay the hedge funds, branding them "vultures" which had bought the bonds cheaply at the time of the default.
But her successor Mauricio Macri, who took office in December, has pledged to clear up the $9 billion in holdout claims represented in the New York case, involving a number of creditor groups.
Since offering a total of $6.5 billion to settle those at the beginning of February, Macri's government has reached deals with a number of the groups, but NML and Aurelius, among others, continue to haggle with the government.
On Wednesday a lawyer from NML said they "are this close to a deal."
"We have an agreement on economic terms," he said, without explanation, before being scolded by Pollack for violating confidentiality rules while the talks are ongoing.