July 11, 2019 / 8:27 PM / 4 months ago

Brazil appeals court judge lets Odebrecht creditors seize Braskem shares

FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of the Odebrecht SA construction conglomerate is pictured at its headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A Brazilian appeals court judge has allowed bank creditors of Odebrecht SA [ODBESF.UL] to take possession of shares in petrochemical company Braskem SA (BRKM5.SA) pledged as collateral for loans they made to the corruption-ensnared conglomerate, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The new injunction, granted on Wednesday in favor of Brazil’s largest lender, Itau Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB4.SA), overturns a ruling banning any sale or possession of Braskem shares by banks. State-controlled lender Banco do Brasil has filed a similar request.

Odebrecht filed for bankruptcy protection in June, aiming to restructure 51 billion reais ($13.57 billion) of debt, in what would be one of Latin America’s largest-ever in-court debt restructurings, after the group was caught in a sweeping political corruption investigation.

In its bankruptcy filing, Odebrecht asked the judge to bar banks from taking possession of shares in the group’s crown jewel, its controlling stake in Braskem, pledged as collateral to creditors. Odebrecht has a 38.3% stake in Braskem, but 50.1% of its voting shares.

The conglomerate said Braskem would be essential to its restructuring, as it was Odebrecht’s main source of revenues in 2018.

In his decision, Judge Alexandre Lazzarini said that Braskem shares had been pledged as collateral to loans through a lien, and therefore cannot be considered as Odebrecht’s assets. Still, he also said this stake is “essential” to the group.

If Lazzarini’s decision is upheld, banks would be allowed to sell Braskem shares immediately if they want to.

A source close to Odebrecht said the group expects to file an appeal next week. Itau did not immediately comment on the matter. Odebrecht declined to comment.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker

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