NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) - A bankruptcy judge on Tuesday delayed until May 15 a decision on the latest bankruptcy reorganization plan by U.S. copper miner Asarco LLC, according to Jack Kinzie, a lawyer representing Asarco in the case.
The decision, by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Schmidt of the Southern District of Texas, gives Asarco’s parent, Grupo Mexico, time to submit its own plan to creditors to regain control of Asarco. On Monday Asarco asked court permission to hold a vote by creditors on a rival bid.
Asarco, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2005 after it was sued for $1 billion over environmental cleanup and asbestos claims, filed court papers on Monday seeking approval to allow creditors to begin voting on its fourth amended reorganization plan.
That plan called for Asarco to sell itself to India’s Sterlite Industries STRL.BO for $1.7 billion.
But Grupo Mexico, (GMEXICOB.MX) which acquired Asarco in 1999 but lacks board control due to the bankruptcy, objected to its plan to seek a creditor vote so quickly, saying in court papers filed Tuesday that Asarco “fails to adequately address” its own competing reorganization plan for the bankrupt miner.
Grupo Mexico wanted its plan, which it said it will submit by May 15, to be put up for creditor vote as well, according to court papers. Grupo Mexico has previously offered to pay $1.3 billion to regain control of the miner, which owns three copper mines in Arizona.
The company’s current plan with Sterlite has been renegotiated from an earlier offer. In October, Sterlite, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources PLC VED.L, backed out of an earlier $2.6 billion deal to buy Asarco, saying it would need a substantial reduction in price after a drop in the copper markets.
The proposed Sterlite deal calls for Sterlite to pay $1.1 billion cash plus $600 million of senior secured notes, payable over nine years.
The case is In re: Asarco LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 05-21207. (Editing by Steve Orlofsky)