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