UPDATE 1-Petroplus seeks 6-month extension of grace period

Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:44pm EDT

Related Topics

* No decision made on extension for Cressier

* Ruling could shift control to administrators (Adds details, quote from administrator)

By Emma Farge

GENEVA, March 21 (Reuters) - The holding and marketing arms of insolvent oil refiner Petroplus have applied to a Swiss court for a six-month debt moratorium to extend protection from creditors as the company seeks to restructure debt, its administrator said on Wednesday.

Petroplus Holdings AG and Petroplus Marketing AG, which employs the firm's remaining oil traders, received a two-month grace period to restructure debt from a Swiss judge that is due to expire on March 27.

Provisional administrator Swiss-based law firm Wenger-Plattner said in a statement that a decision on whether to apply for an extension for Petroplus Refining Cressier SA, which owns the Cressier refinery, will be made in the next few days.

The deadline for bids for the plant is March 26.

Earlier this month, Petroplus made around 70-80 workers or about half of its workforce redundant at its Zug headquarters ahead of a last-ditch survival plan to reduce its refining fleet to two, sources familiar with the matter said.

Filippo Beck, partner at Wenger-Plattner, said that if the extended grace period is granted this will result in a shift in leadership from the former Petroplus management to the administrators.

"If the judge decides for the definitive debt restructuring moratorium, the administrators will be in charge and not the management anymore," he said.

Petroplus, Europe's largest refiner by capacity, filed for insolvency in January after it defaulted on $1.75 billion of debt. Its five European refineries have been placed on the market and the Antwerp plant has been sold to Swiss-based trading firm Gunvor.

A former Russian energy minister is planning to bid for the three refineries in the UK, Germany and Switzerland, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday. (Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Jane Merriman and Hans-Juergen Peters)

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