J.P. Morgan & Co. is donating its $11.5 million of Bolivian debt to promote conservation programs in Bolivia.
That nation will extinguish the debt at 24 cents on the dollar, higher than the 16 cents Bolivia is expected to pay banks under its impending restructuring agreement.
The proceeds of about $2.8 million will be donated to an environmental trust fund that will be managed by the Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, and Bolivian organizations.
Timed to Rio Conference
Morgan's debt-for-nature swap was deliberately announced during the global conference on the environment in Rio de Janeiro.
"We thought, let's do it and maybe some others will notice and donate, too," a Morgan official said.
The bank had initially planned to make the donation when Bolivia completed renegotiation of its debt with commercial banks.
The announcement was not meant to add to the pressure the United States is under to sign an environmental treaty, said Randall Curtis, director of conservation finance at the Nature Conservancy.
"It wasn't intended to point anyone up, although that may be appropriate," he said.
BankAmerica Corp. and a few other bank companies have completed debt-for-nature swaps. But Morgan's is the biggest face-value donation to date, according to the conservation groups.