December 1, 2015 / 6:40 PM / 4 years ago

Shareholders threaten to sue Abengoa over plunge in share price

MADRID, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Spanish renewable energy and engineering group Abengoa faces a civil lawsuit after shareholders accused the indebted company of keeping them in the dark when it last week initiated insolvency proceedings.

The firm filed for preliminary protection against creditors after struggling for a year with high debts. It now has four months to reach an agreement with creditors to avoid a full-blown insolvency process and the biggest Spanish bankruptcy on record.

The Spanish association of minority shareholders (AEMEC) wants compensation for losses incurred by small shareholders after Abengoa’s share price plummeted just before and after the insolvency proceedings were initiated, their lawyer Javier Cremades told a news conference on Tuesday.

He also said AEMEC, which is looking for compensation for 250 of the close to 50,000 minority shareholders in Abengoa, could also pursue criminal charges.

Abengoa declined to comment.

The company’s share price fell 73 percent last week and is down 93 percent since April when the shares hit a six-month high of 3.75 euros.

Meanwhile Abengoa’s creditors met on Monday with their newly-appointed advisor KPMG to discuss the next steps to take in restructuring the company’s debt, a source familiar with the situation said.

“The banks agreed on Monday to ask KPMG to provide details of all the debt held by Abengoa,” the source said. “It is still very early to start to talk about writing off debt.”

The same source also said Abengoa’s bondholders would be meeting with their legal advisers Clifford Chance and Houlihan Lokey on Wednesday.

Abengoa has so far declared 9 billion euros of debt, but a source familiar with the company’s finances told Reuters in September that creditors had a total financial exposure to the company of 20.2 billion euros. ($1 = 0.9418 euros) (Additional reporting by Jesús Aguado; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Julien Toyer, Greg Mahlich)

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