BNY Mellon, bondholders to argue in Argentina appeal of U.S. ruling

A federal appeals court has agreed to hear from more parties potentially affected by its review of a decision requiring Argentina to pay $1.33 billion to bondholders who did not participate in two debt restructurings.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an order Monday, set aside additional time for oral arguments scheduled for February 27.

Still, lawyers on all sides will not have much time to make their case: the New York court has allotted 49 minutes overall for the arguments, up from the 30 minutes originally scheduled.

Argentina is seeking the reversal of a November order by U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan that required the South American country to pay $1.33 billion into escrow for so-called "holdout" investors when it paid bondholders who participated in the debt restructurings.

Griesa's ruling followed an October decision by the 2nd Circuit that required Argentina to pay all of its bondholders equally, instead of giving priority to holders of restructured debt.

In Monday's order, the court allotted time to a lawyer for bondholders who participated in the debt exchanges following Argentina's $100 billion sovereign default in 2001, and to a lawyer for Bank of New York Mellon Corp, the trustee for bondholders who participated in the 2005 and 2010 exchanges. Both have supported Argentina in its appeal.

The case is being heard in U.S. courts under terms of Argentina's bond contracts with investors. The holdouts, led by Elliott Management Corp affiliate NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius Capital Management, have pressed their case for years.

The 2nd Circuit's order Monday also sets up a rematch of sorts between high-powered attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies, who were on opposite ends of the Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election.

Olson, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who frequently appears before the Supreme Court, represents NML.

Boies, the founder of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, represents the exchange bondholder group. He is also well known for representing the U.S. government in its antitrust case against Microsoft Corp.

Jonathan Blackman of law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton will argue for Argentina, while James Martin of Reed Smith will represent BNY Mellon.

A spokesman for BNY Mellon did not respond to a request for comment, while Boies declined comment through a spokeswoman. An NML spokesman declined comment and Aurelius did not respond to a request for comment.

Blackman did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Under the new schedule, NML and Aurelius will have 20 minutes and Argentina will have 15 at the arguments. BNY Mellon and exchange bondholders including Gramercy Financial Group LLC will get seven minutes each.

The case is NML Capital Ltd et al v. Argentina, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-105.

(Reporting By Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Martha Graybow and Tim Dobbyn)