UPDATE 2-Italian court admits Astaldi to creditor protection process

(Recasts with company statement)

ROME, Oct 17 (Reuters) - A court in Rome has accepted a filing by troubled Italian builder Astaldi for protection from creditors, the company said on Wednesday, confirming what sources had said.

Astaldi, hit by delays to plans to sell a bridge in Turkey, filed for court protection from creditors in September to allow it to continue business while restructuring its debt.

“The court of Rome has admitted the company to the creditor protection procedure,” Astaldi said in a statement.

The court has set Dec. 16 as the deadline for Astaldi to submit a final restructuring plan related to the arrangement with creditors, the statement added.

Shares in Astaldi have lost almost half of their value since the group reported on Sept. 28 that it had filed for Chapter 11-like creditor protection. The stock closed down 5.6 percent on Wednesday.

Astaldi, one of Italy’s leading contractors with more than 10,500 employees, had been hoping to sell its 33.3 percent stake in the Third Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey to boost liquidity and reduce debt, which stood at 1.9 billion euros ($2.2 billion) at the end of June.

But political turmoil in Turkey and a plunge in the currency led to delays to the sale, which had been one of the conditions for launching a cash call of up to 300 million euros. (Reporting by Domenico Lusi and Stefano Bernabei in Rome; Writing by Francesca Landini and Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Jan Harvey/Mark Heinrich)