December 9, 2009 / 10:52 PM / 9 years ago

Asarco exits bankruptcy under Grupo Mexico deal

* Copper miner Asarco exits bankruptcy protection

* Grupo regains control of Asarco after 4-year bankruptcy

* Banco Inbursa, BBVA, Calyon & Credit Suisse fund deal

By Emily Chasan

NEW YORK, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Grupo Mexico SAB de CV (GMEXICOB.MX) said on Wednesday it completed its deal to regain control of U.S. copper miner Asarco LLC, bringing to an end Asarco’s four-year bankruptcy.

Asarco, based in Tucson, Arizona, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005 amid a strike and more than $1 billion of asbestos and environmental claims.

Last month, a U.S. federal judge approved a more than $2 billion plan by the Mexican miner to take control of Asarco. Grupo Mexico first acquired Asarco in a leveraged buyout in 1999, but lost board control of the subsidiary due to the bankruptcy.

Grupo Mexico battled for more than a year to beat out Indian bidder Sterlite Industries Ltd STRL.BO for Asarco. Grupo Mexico, whose plan repaid creditors in full, argued it still owned Asarco’s equity and could not be forced to sell the assets.

Asarco is “now able to operate free of its burdensome asbestos and environmental liabilities,” Jorge Lazalde, vice president and general counsel of Asarco Inc, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Grupo, Mexico’s largest miner, has said the addition of Asarco will help the company diversify its geographic profile and boost its overall copper production by 30 percent. [ID:nN30435601]

Grupo said on Wednesday it had obtained $1.5 billion of financing from a syndicate of financial institutions for the Asarco deal. Grupo also put in $700 million to fund the plan.

Banco Inbursa, BBVA Bancomer, Calyon and Credit Suisse led the bank syndicate, according to Cleary Gottlieb, which represented the lenders on the deal.

The cases are In re: Asarco LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 05-21207 and In re: Asarco LLC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 09-00177. (Reporting by Emily Chasan; editing by Andre Grenon)

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