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Vale, BHP propose 1.2 billion reais DIP financing for Samarco, creditors oppose

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Bankrupt miner Samarco Mineracao SA plans to receive a 1.2 billion reais ($238 million) debtor-in-possession loan extended by controlling shareholders Vale SA and BHP Group Ltd, according to court documents reviewed by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA is seen in Brumadinho, Brazil January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

But a group representing 80% of Samarco’s debt excluding Vale and BHP oppose the move, saying the DIP financing goal would be to protect Vale and BHP assets. Among these creditors are York Global Finance, Ashmor, Solus and City National.

Samarco would pay a 9.5% annual interest rate, and be able to generate enough cash to meet obligations, according to the document.

On Wednesday, the bankruptcy trustee determined that Samarco presents all DIP financing offers received to creditors.

Creditors requested that Samarco stop making payments to Renova, a foundation set up by BHP Group and Vale SA to compensate for a deadly dam burst at a jointly owned Brazilian mine in 2015.

The dam collapse at the mine complex killed 19 people and severely polluted the Doce River. The company has been the focus of significant litigation from bondholders holding nearly $5 billion in debt.

In December, Samarco restarted operations with resumption of one of three concentrators for processing iron ore at the Germano complex in Mariana, and one of four pellet plants at the Ubu complex in Anchieta.

Creditors say that any contribution to Renova should be made directly by Samarco’s controlling shareholders, as they would also be responsible for the disaster.

“The DIP loan is in fact, the final blow by shareholders fraudulently using Samarco to shirk their responsibility,” creditors say in the document.

Samarco filed for bankruptcy protection in April to prevent creditors’ claims from affecting operations that resumed in 2020.

In an email to Reuters, Samarco said the financing proposed by Vale and BHP was essential “for the maintenance of its operations, jobs, payment of its suppliers, while defraying its cash needs.”

The creditors’ opposition, Samarco said, would undermine its recovery and ability to repair damage from the dam collapse.

Vale and BHP, in separate emails, said loans made in recent years were aimed at allowing resumption of Samarco’s operations so it could fulfill its obligations.

Vale said creditors mentioned in the court documents were mostly funds that purchased Samarco debt at reduced prices after the collapse and never contributed funding toward the company’s recovery.

On June 10, Samarco proposed a plan to restructure 50 billion reais ($10 billion) in debt with an offer of preferred shares or a cash payout in 2041 equal to 15% of the current value of holdings.

Samarco’s debt with Vale and BHP totals 23 billion reais, while bondholders are owed the equivalent of 26 billion reais.

Reporting by Marta Nogueira, in Rio, and Carolina Mandl, in Sao Paulo; Editing by Leslie Adler, Dan Grebler, Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio

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