Brazil judge puts hold on plan for joint OSX, OGX bankruptcies
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 6 (Reuters) - A Brazilian state judge suspended a plan to unify the bankruptcy protection petitions of tycoon Eike Batista's oil producer and shipbuilder, saying the joint petition could hurt the interests of a creditor that opposed the plan.
Rio de Janeiro-based appeals court Judge Gilberto Campista Guarino made the decision on Wednesday after Spanish construction group Acciona fought a November ruling allowing OGX Petróleo e Gás Participações SA and shipbuilder OSX Brasil SA to have a joint bankruptcy process. Guarino's ruling was unveiled late on Thursday.
The decision could delay efforts to reach a quick solution to the two companies' financial problems. OGX has 11.2 billion reais ($4.9 billion) of debt; its Oct. 30 bankruptcy protection filing was the largest in Latin American history. OSX owes 5.34 billion reais.
Both companies are part of Batista's Grupo EBX industrial group. Once worth about $60 billion, the value of EBX-controlled companies has nearly evaporated over the past year, after OGX failed to produced expected amounts of oil from its first field.
Delays in the OGX and OSX bankruptcy processes could complicate efforts by both companies to generate revenue needed to make a reorganization and restructuring viable. On Friday OGX said it produced its first oil from its Tubarão Martelo offshore oil field east of Rio de Janeiro. OSX owns the production ship linked to the wells. OSX depends on OGX for nearly all its current and future revenue.
Acciona is a lead contractor building OSX's shipyard at the Port of Açu north of Rio de Janeiro. The Port of Açu is owned by LLX Logistica SA, a company founded by Batista and now controlled by Washington-based EIG Global Energy Partners.
Acciona said in a statement that it "wants contracts and the rights of creditors respected and could be seriously harmed by the mixing of assets of EBX." Acciona alleged that the joining of the bankruptcy cases is harmful to its interests.
In his ruling, Guarino noted that Acciona said OSX has the means to seek its restructuring and recovery on its own.
Acciona alleged that the joining of the cases, now before the 4th Commercial Part of the Rio de Janeiro State Justice Tribunal also subordinates efforts to seek compensation to an unrelated company, OGX, Guarino also noted in his ruling.
Guarino and the two other appeals judges of the 14th Civil Part of the Rio de Janeiro Tribunal da Justica will review the case after receiving input from Brazil's independent prosecutors' office.
The OSX bankruptcy filing is case No. 0392571-55.2013.8.19.0001. OGX's bankruptcy filing is case No. 0377620-56.2013.8.19.0001, the Acciona appeal is case No. 0064637-04.2013.8.19.0000. All are in the Rio de Janeiro-State Justice Tribunal.
($1 = 2.33 Brazilian reais)
(Reporting by Sabrina Lorenzi and Jeb Blount; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Leslie Adler)