Mexican tycoon’s company says too poor to pay US bondholders tens of millions owed

The company run by Mexican television, retail and banking tycoon Ricardo Salinas Pliego said on Tuesday it had failed to reach a deal with bondholders in the United States owed tens of millions of dollars in late payments.

Salinas Pliego's TV Azteca company issued a statement on Tuesday saying it needed to restructure its bonds due in 2024 because operations were so bad.

TV Azteca said it had been in U.S. court mediation with bondholders since September, but that process ended when “the parties were unable to reach a consensual resolution.”

According to the statement, the dispute involves about $400 million in bonds, with about $105 million in late payments.

It's a common situation for Salinas Pliego, who often takes to his social media accounts to give away money or merchandise and posts photos showing his lavish lifestyle, with yachts and expensive vehicles.

He also frequently publishes series of stinging insults targeting political figures with whom he disagrees.

According to the company's statement, bondholders wanted to be paid $105 million when a deal was reached, in exchange for a restructuring that would have given a six-year extension to 2030 with full repayment.

TV Azteca offered an initial payment of $45 million and a mix of six- and eight-year extensions on the bonds' maturity dates.

The company said it had been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, reduced advertising, “the continued deterioration of the television broadcast industry and the Mexican economy, as well as additional pressures on the company's ability to generate cash flow.”

None of this was evident in Salinas Pliego's social media posts, where he posted last week that “to take advantage of the long weekend, we took a trip to New York to see what to buy at the art auctions.”

He also posted videos of a yacht and a private plane, writing “how beautiful are the fruits of my labor.”

To celebrate TV Azteca's 30th anniversary, he offered to give away a mansion and luxury cars.

Salinas Pliego, who describes himself as a “Bitcoin owner, entrepreneur, Libertarian,” has developed a following on social media for his inflammatory attacks on politicians and public figures.

He has been at odds with the government and frequently criticizes a ruling party congresswoman in Mexico, mocking her weight and calling her a “pig.”