RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - OSX Brasil SA , the Brazilian shipbuilder controlled by former billionaire Eike Batista, is considering seeking court protection from creditors as early as Wednesday, three sources with direct knowledge of the plans told Reuters.
OSX will likely petition the same Rio de Janeiro court where Batista's oil producer OGX Petróleo e Gas Participações SA sought protection on Oct. 30, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified by name because the plans are private. With the move, OSX will put 5.3 billion reais ($2.3 billion) of debt under court protection.
The refinancing of a 461 million real ($201 million) loan to OSX by state-run Caixa Econômica Federal and Banco Santander Brasil SA on Tuesday for an additional 12 months will give OSX a much-needed lifeline and cash flow relief as it enters the proceedings, a second source noted.
The situation follows more than a year during which Batista's Grupo EBX, a sprawling empire of energy, mining and logistics companies including OGX and OSX, collapsed under a mountain of debt after missing production targets. Batista has sold off controlling stakes and major assets of three other companies to reduce his conglomerate's debt.
"Bankruptcy protection is a possibility that the company has considered, but there is no decision on whether we will use it," a spokeswoman for OSX in Rio de Janeiro told Reuters on Wednesday.
OSX, whose assets include an unfinished shipyard at the Port of Açú, which is located north of Rio de Janeiro state, is also one of OGX's biggest creditors. OGX owes OSX at least 2.45 billion reais, according to documents filed with the bankruptcy court.
Filing for bankruptcy protection could help OSX save its shipyard unit, part of which is ready to begin operations at Açú, two of the sources added. Açú operator LLX Logística SA said it was in advanced talks with OSX and its shipyard unit to renegotiate their earlier contracts for the use of the port.
Last week's filing by OGX aimed to restructure 11.2 billion reais in debt, making it the largest-ever corporate bankruptcy filing in Latin America.
($1 = 2.29 Brazilian reais)
(Additional reporting by Asher Levine and Brad Haynes in São Paulo; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)