| WILMINGTON, Del./CHICAGO
WILMINGTON, Del./CHICAGO Abengoa SA (ABG.MC) put its U.S. bioenergy unit into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday with up to $10 billion in liabilities, the latest twist in the multinational parent's race to avoid becoming Spain's largest corporate failure.
The U.S. filing came as the Spanish company faced a March 28 deadline to agree on a wide-ranging restructuring plan with its banks and bondholders, without which it could be forced to declare bankruptcy.
The filing by Abengoa Bioenergy US Holding LLC was prompted by involuntary bankruptcy petitions against two subsidiaries earlier this month by grain suppliers, including Gavilon Grain LLC, the Farmers Cooperative Association, The Andersons Inc and Central Valley Ag.
The suppliers, which claim to be owed more than $4 million, said they were told that Abengoa Bioenergy, whose Spanish parent controls the "central treasury," had run out of cash, court documents showed.
They cited concerns that the U.S. business was transferring cash and loan proceeds to Abengoa SA.
Abengoa Bioenergy listed a $1.45 billion syndicated loan and $3.85 billion in bonds as unsecured debt in its filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis. It did not list secured debt, but said total liabilities could be as much as $10 billion.
The filing appeared to include debt issued by Abengoa SA, whose global businesses include energy, telecommunications, transportation, and the environment, the documents showed.
Abengoa declined to comment on the group debt being included in the U.S. bankruptcy filing. In a statement, Abengoa said it was negotiating a viability plan for the global organization of the company and aims to maintain business activity in all areas.
Abengoa Bioenergy of Nebraska LLC, a subsidiary of the U.S. company in the bankruptcy filing, is listed as a guarantor of billions of dollars of debt securities and a syndicated loan in Abengoa SA's annual report.
Abengoa SA said last week it needed 826 million euros ($908 million) of cash to make it through 2016 and another 304 million in 2017.
Abengoa Bioenergy said the bankruptcy would allow for a reorganization or sale of the company.
(1 euro = $1.10)
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Tom Brown and Richard Chang)