Grupo Mexico set to regain control of copper miner Asarco

Nov 16, 2009 | 11:55 AM | Anne Riley

Asarco LLC's former parent company Grupo Mexico SA de CV will regain control of the U.S. copper miner, a Texas judge ruled, bringing to an end nearly five years of bankruptcy proceedings.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has approved Grupo Mexico's reorganization plan for Asarco over that of rival suitor Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., a unit of London-based Vedanta Resources Plc, Mexico City-based Grupo said. The deal is expected to close in mid-December.

"We are very pleased that Judge Hanen approved our reorganization plan and look forward to consummating the transaction to bring to a close what has been a lengthy bankruptcy restructuring process that will result in a stronger, more vibrant Asarco and an important contributor to Grupo Mexico's global mining operations," Jorge Lazalde, vice president and general counsel of Asarco, said in a statement.

Grupo Mexico's plan guarantees, among other things, that $2.2 billion in cash plus $1.4 billion from Asarco's own balance sheet will be distributed to Asarco's creditors. Asarco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of massive asbestos claims in August 2005.

Hanen's order confirming Grupo Mexico's reorganization plan was not a surprise, analysts told AMM. Grupo Mexico's bid had already received two nods of approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Richard Schmidt, who recommended in early September that Hanen confirm Grupo Mexico's reorganization plan over that of Sterlite, then upheld that decision when he recommended that Sterlite's 11th-hour bid for Asarco be deemed invalid.....

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