November 23, 2017 / 6:16 PM / 25 days ago

Brazil court upholds bankruptcy protection for grains trader Seara

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A Brazilian judge has decided to uphold bankruptcy protection for Seara Industria & Comércio de Produtos Agropecuários Ltda, a soy and corn trader whose largest creditor is U.S. agriculture cooperative CHS Inc, Seara said on Thursday.

In July, an appeals judge had granted a motion to halt the case while forensic accountants investigated creditors’ allegations that the company had falsified financial statements.

Seara was among the 10 biggest commodities traders in Brazil when it filed for bankruptcy protection in April to restructure 2.1 billion reais ($652.17 million) in debt.

The firm owes $218 million to CHS. The local unit of Dutch lender Rabobank, Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group AG and commodities trader Bunge Ltd’s Brazilian subsidiary Bunge Alimentos SA are also among its creditors.

The troubled trader said in a statement that it will soon present a recovery plan to the court overseeing the case.

In September, Reuters exclusively reported that Seara had offered logistics assets to creditors in a bid to settle the debts.

The distressed company, which is based in the southern Paraná state, owns a soy processing plant, warehouses, three logistics terminals and a port terminal in Paranaguá, Brazil’s second largest grain exporting port.

The terminals are considered valuable because they allow for grain shipments by rail from Mato Grosso to Paranaguá. Creditors would take stakes in the assets and have rights to move commodities through the system.

A source who is closely following the case told Reuters on Thursday that negotiations to that end continue, but there is no clear sign yet of a likely outcome.

($1 = 3.2200 reais)

Reporting by Marcelo TeixeiraEditing by Marguerita Choy

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