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Sesa Sterlite plea to stay Asarco payment denied

Keywords: Tags  copper, Sesa Sterlite, Asarco, Jorge Lazalde, Grupo México, Saranya Kapur

NEW YORK — A judge in U.S. District Court in Texas has denied Sesa Sterlite Ltd.’s request to stay a court order that it pay nearly $83 million to copper miner Asarco LLC.

The case has its origins in Sterlite Industries India Ltd.’s decision to back out of a deal to acquire Asarco in 2008.

"We are pleased with this latest ruling. Sesa Sterlite has attempted for years to evade responsibility for its breach of contract, and this order will help us in our efforts to enforce the judgment we have obtained," Asarco executive vice president Jorge Lazalde said in a statement.

The order could impact Panaji, India-based Sesa Sterlite’s payments on a $500-million debt offering sold in the United States, which matures Oct. 30, Asarco said.

"Because both the judgment and the turnover order remain the subject of pending appeals before the district court, Sterlite has no comment on the interim ruling made earlier this month," an attorney representing Sesa Sterlite told AMM.

"Asarco will continue to pursue its legal rights under the judgment and the turnover order," Lazalde said.

The judge was not convinced by Sesa Sterlite’s argument that it couldn’t make payments to Tucson, Ariz.-based Asarco without the approval of the Reserve Bank of India.

"The record is clear that, regardless of (Reserve Bank of India) rules or regulations regarding monetary transfers, when a payment benefits Sterlite it finds a way to make it without the approval of (the bank)," the judge wrote in a court filing.

Known as Sterlite Industries before its merger with Sesa Goa Ltd., Sesa Sterlite, a unit of Vedanta Resources Plc, agreed to acquire Asarco in 2008 after emerging as the top bidder for the company. It later reneged on the $2.6-billion deal as copper prices crashed during the 2008 financial crisis (, Feb. 17, 2012).

Mexican conglomerate Grupo México SAB de CV took control of Asarco in 2009.

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