Venezuela Is Pawning Pieces of Iconic American Brand Citgo to Survive

The red triangle is just about everywhere, from the massive sign looming over Fenway Park’s Green Monster to the filling stations on seemingly every other corner in the eastern half of the U.S. to the heating oil donated to the poor in the winter.

Few foreign companies have the kind of footprint or brand recognition that Citgo Holding Inc. does in much of America, and yet most people know little about it or the drama surrounding it back home in Caracas. The company is owned by Venezuela’s socialist government, and is being offered up as a lifeline to stave off a default by Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Like the country, PDVSA, as the state-run oil giant is known, is strapped for cash. So it’s asking bondholders to swap soon-to-mature notes for longer-term securities backed by a 50.1 percent stake in its best-performing asset, Citgo. PDVSA has estimated its value at $8.3 billion, a sum scoffed at by analysts who reckon the number’s likely well less than half that.

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