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Techint plans to take Usiminas battle to higher court -source

SAO PAULO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Techint Group may take their boardroom battle at Brazilian steelmaker Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA to higher courts in Brazil next year if recent appeals to regional courts are not accepted, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

Techint is preparing to file a lawsuit to the highest appeals court in the country, challenging a state court’s October decision in favor of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp , the source said.

That ruling annulled the appointment of Sergio Leite, backed by Techint, to become chief executive officer of Usiminas , as the company is known, and reinstated former CEO Rômel Erwin de Souza, backed by Nippon Steel.

Techint declined to comment on specific appeals.

Techint and Nippon Steel have been battling for two years over control of the Brazilian steelmaker, as it struggles with a deep recession, cheap imports and rising debt.

The company avoided filing for bankruptcy protection when it refinanced 6 billion reais ($1.8 billion) in debt with Brazil’s biggest banks in September.

Techint has appealed the latest court decision through its subsidiary Ternium SA, along with Usiminas chairman Elias Brito and two other board members it had appointed.

On Dec. 13, the board members appointed by Techint sent a letter to securities industry watchdog CVM with questions that may be used in litigation. The letter was also signed by two board members appointed by minority shareholders and employees.

$1 = 3.36 reais Editing by Bernard Orr