(Adds comments from banks, judge decision)
SAO PAULO, Jan 24 (Reuters) -
Brazilian lender Bradesco SA is planning on filing an international lawsuit against distressed retailer Americanas SA, a source familiar with the bank told Reuters on Tuesday.
The move comes days after Americanas entered into bankruptcy protection as it looked to restructure debts totaling some 43 billion reais ($8.37 billion) after disclosing “inconsistencies” in its accounting.
Santander Brasil and Safra have appealed the bankruptcy protection, according to two other sources related to those two banks.
Bradesco had planned to do the same, but, according to the first source speaking on the condition of anonymity, it considered the company’s chances of overturning the process low.
“The bank has given up,” that source said, adding that Bradesco would now seek a separate legal route in Brazil and another outside the country.
The aim of the bank’s foreign lawsuit would be to prevent Americanas from accessing more funds from its pre-agreed credit line with Bradesco, the source said.
The relationship between the company and its creditors has deteriorated since disclosure of the accounting problem on Jan. 11, and especially since Sunday, when top shareholders - the founders of investment firm 3G Capital - said Americanas had never received a complaint of irregularities from its auditors or banks.
Brazil’s largest lender, Itau Unibanco Holding SA , rebuffed their arguments on Tuesday, saying that only a firm’s management and board were responsible for publication of financial statements.
Bradesco joined Itau Unibanco, saying it would not condone attempts to “divert attention away from the central problem, namely, the lack of consistency of the financial statement numbers and the responsibilities of the company’s leaders.”
Later on Tuesday, a state court judge suspended a previous decision that would have allowed bank BTG Pactual to ringfence the 1.2 billion reais that Americanas had in an account with that bank.
The funds should be used in the reorganization plan for Americanas, the judge said.
$1 = 5.1402 reais Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Editing by Bradley Perrett
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