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By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, Dec 6 (Reuters) - A Brazilian bankruptcy judge has pushed back the sale of two soy crushing plants after U.S-based grain trader Bunge Ltd alleged the seller provided “scarce and incomplete” information about the assets, according to court filings seen by Reuters on Friday.
The auction of the two plants by privately owned Imcopa group, rescheduled to Feb. 17 from Dec. 4, is part of the seller’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Imcopa and a court-appointed judicial administrator agreed with canceling this week’s auction, court documents showed.
Bunge alleged in a filing that missing and “outdated” information in Imcopa’s data room made it hard to analyze the merit and risks of the potential investment, referring mainly to environmental and regulatory approvals for the plants to operate.
The trading firm’s Brazilian unit also claimed “inconsistencies” between the amended reorganization plan approved by Imcopa’s creditors in 2017 and bidding rules published last October.
The inconsistencies would mainly relate to whether the plants may be sold separately by Imcopa.
According to Bunge’s interpretation of Imcopa’s reorganization plan, both plants should be sold together as part of the same “UPI” structure, which can be sold free of any liabilities.
Partially agreeing with Bunge’s arguments, Judge Mariana Gusso ordered Imcopa to update the data room, according to a Dec. 3 decision seen by Reuters. However, the ruling stated that Imcopa’s reorganization plan allows the creation “of up to two UPI” structures.
Bunge declined to comment.
The minimum asking price for each of the plants is 25 million reais.
The combined debt attached to the two plants, which the buyers will have to assume, is 1.043 billion reais ($248 million) as of December 2018, according to public records.
Imcopa, which makes soyoil and soy protein concentrate used as livestock feed, is one of the largest non-genetically modified soy crushers in Brazil.
Imcopa declined to comment.
“Bunge not only intends to acquire the two industrial plants ... (it also) intends to hire a significant number of the current employees allocated to Araucária and Cambé ...,” according a filing dated Nov 26.
Aside from Bunge, Reuters has identified at least another two potential bidders for Imcopa’s plants in Paraná state, including CJ Selecta, owned by South Korea’s CJ Cheiljedang , and the local unit of Russia’s Sodrugestvo .
Neither returned a request for comment.
In August, Imcopa unilaterally terminated a leasing contract with brewer Grupo Petrópolis for the two crushing plants as it was preparing to sell the assets, alleging a breach of contract.
Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Richard Chang and Jonathan Oatis