Key stakeholder in Banco Espirito Santo files for creditor protection

LISBON, July 18 Fri Jul 18, 2014 4:09pm EDT

LISBON, July 18 (Reuters) - Espirito Santo International (ESI), a holding company of Portugal's troubled banking clan, filed for creditor protection in Luxembourg on Friday, three days after ESI's subholding Rioforte failed to repay over $1 billion euros in debt.

"ESI is currently not able to meet its debt obligations, a material portion of which has matured," the Luxembourg-registered company said in a statement, adding that if its request for controlled management is accepted, all enforcement actions by creditors would be suspended.

"ESI believes that the controlled management regime will be in the best interest of its creditors, in a transparent and orderly disposal process under the control of the courts and the court appointed officers will enable the value of these assets to be enhanced as opposed to a massive and fast sale."

ESI is a holding company close to the top of a cascading ownership structure of the troubled Espirito Santo family empire. Sources told Reuters earlier this week that Rioforte had been preparing to file for creditor protection and it was not yet clear if a separate filing would be required. ESI owns 100 percent of Rioforte capital. (Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)