UPDATE 1-Chile court denies Codelco bid to freeze Anglo dividends

Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:07pm EDT

* Codelco sought 49 pct of Anglo Sur dividends be retained
    * Miners embroiled in bitter option stake spat
    * Legal battle seen dragging on for years


    By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Erik Lopez	
    LONDON/SANTIAGO April 25 (Reuters) - A Chilean court on
Wednesday rejected a bid by state copper giant Codelco
 to freeze some dividends from global miner Anglo
American's south central Chile assets, helping clear some
shareholder uncertainty in a dispute seen dragging on for years.	
    Santiago's 14th civil court said it could not justify
imposing an embargo on Anglo. The UK-listed miner said
the court had turned down the request that 49 percent of
dividends from its disputed south-central Chilean assets be
retained in escrow.	
    The miners have clashed since Anglo preemptively sold 24.5
percent of those properties from under world top copper producer
Codelco, stymieing its bid to exercise an option to buy up a 49
percent stake in the proprieties.
    Codelco estimates the legal battle could drag on for up to
four years. 	
    "It is not proven that the defendant lacks sufficient assets
to respond in the face of an unfavorable verdict or that there
is a rational reason to think it would seek to hide those
possessions," Judge Luis Correa of Santiago's 14th civil court
said.	
 
 	
    Anglo argues it was entitled to sell a share in the assets
to Japan's Mitsubishi before Codelco's window to
exercise the option in January, while the state miner says Anglo
violated the Chilean legal principle of good faith by selling
the stake.