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Source: Reuters
By: Luis Andres Henao

Argentina's western province of Mendoza plans to issue about $250 million in new debt on global markets in 2012 for the first time in 15 years, Mendoza's economy minister said on Friday.

The bond issue, however, will be possible only if yields do not surpass the 11 percent rate that Buenos Aires, the country's largest district, fetched last year.

"It will be for a minimum of $250 million," provincial Economy Minister Marcelo Costa, told Reuters, adding that the bond issue would be used to finance infrastructure projects.

Mendoza is best known for its prized Malbec vines that grow beneath Andean peaks in the province that produces 90 percent of the South American country's wine.

But the province is also blessed with rich mining and oil resources and is expected to receive $300 million from oil royalties this year.

Costa said he will meet with bankers in the United States next week to look at details of the paper and he hopes it will be a 15 year bond.

"Next week, we will figure out whether we will use the oil royalties as a warranty ... or any other warranty," Costa said in a telephone interview.

The last time that Mendoza tapped global markets was in 1997 went it sold 10-year Aconcagua bonds for $250 million at a 10 percent yield.

Argentina's government has not tapped international credit markets since staging an estimated $100 billion sovereign default in 2002, partly because lawsuits by bondholders threaten to foil any new issue.

President Cristina Fernandez has worked to reduce the country's debt burden and its exposure to financial markets. Her government has borrowed heavily from state agencies and used foreign currency reserves to repay private creditors.

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