(Recasts after judge orders postponement of assembly)
By Tatiana Bautzer and Gram Slattery
SAO PAULO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The judge overseeing phone carrier Oi SA’s bankruptcy case agreed on Friday to give creditors and the company more time to reconcile competing restructuring proposals, 16 months into Brazil’s largest in-court reorganization.
The judge, Fernando Viana, acted on a request filed on Thursday by several creditor groups including state-owned banks and bondholders, court documents showed.
A creditors’ meeting to vote on a Oi restructuring plan had been scheduled for Monday, but Viana postponed it until Nov. 6. If the quorum is insufficient on that date, the meeting will be rescheduled for Nov. 27, according to the documents.
The International Bondholders Committee was among those who asked the delay. Others, all holding claims on debt-laden Oi, included the Ad Hoc Group of Oi Bondholders, Banco do Brasil , state development bank BNDES and Caixa Economica Federal.
Oi Chief Executive Officer Marco Schroeder told journalists in Brasilia the carrier would take advantage of any additional time to continue negotiations.
Oi wants to restructure 65.4 billion reais ($20.5 billion) in debt by offering bondholders a 25 percent equity stake, a move that would imply a 73 percent haircut for creditors, according to an independent analysis by Banco Itau BBA.
Major bondholder groups represented by restructuring firms G5 Evercore and Moelis & Co, which hold about $22 billion reais in Oi’s debt, have put forth a counter-offer which would give them 88 percent of Oi’s equity.
While bondholders have publicly condemned Oi’s offer, they are also trying to avoid a liquidation at all costs, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
Oi’s assets are worth 40.8 billion reais, according to independent auditor Ernst & Young. That amount could drop to 17.9 billion reais, or less than 30 percent of the value of debt under renegotiation, in a forced sale, according to the auditor.
As a class of creditors, bondholders are ranked behind workers and BNDES, so they would stand to lose more in a liquidation than if the company’s terms were accepted, the people said.
Oi said in a statement on Friday that 33,000 small creditors had accepted the company’s offer to restructure individual debts of less than 50,000 reais ($15,685).
Preferred and ordinary shares in Oi fell about 2 percent in Friday afternoon trading.
$1 = 3.19 Brazilian reais Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer and Gram Slattery; Additional reporting by Marcela Ayres in Brasilia; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Tom Brown