Petroplus Refinery, Takefuji Loans, Elpida Delisting: Bankruptcy

Potential buyers for Petroplus Holdings AG’s Coryton oil refinery in the U.K. will visit the site in the coming weeks, according to a local member of the European Parliament.

“There are a number of interested parties,” Richard Howitt, an MEP for the east of England, said by phone. “We need to advance the bids.”

Indicative offers from investors will have to be submitted by April 2, Howitt said in a statement.

Petroplus filed for insolvency in January after lenders froze credit lines at the end of 2011. Morgan Stanley, KKR & Co. and AtlasInvest agreed last month to supply crude to the 220,000 barrel-a-day Coryton plant near London as part of a so-called tolling arrangement for an initial period of three months.

That agreement is extendable, Howitt said. There’s pressure to get a long-term solution, he said.

The Coryton facility was scheduled to have a shutdown in late 2012, the company said in November. “Preparations for the turnaround are continuing,” Howitt said.

Final bids for Petroplus’s Cressier refinery in Switzerland must be submitted by the end of March, Brigitte Umbach-Spahn, the administrator at Wenger Plattner, a law firm in Zurich, said last week in an e-mail.

Petroplus is in talks with as many as 10 potential buyers, a local Swiss government official, said in January. “Some very big companies are interested,” Thierry Grosjean, head of the canton of Neuchatel’s economy department, said Jan. 24, without identifying the potential buyers.

The Cressier facility has the capacity to process 68,000 barrels of crude a day.

LyondellBasell Sells $3 Billion in Bonds to Fund Debt Buyback

LyondellBasell Industries NV, the chemical maker that emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, sold $3 billion of bonds to buy back higher-cost debt.

The world’s third-biggest independent chemical company issued $2 billion of seven-year, 5 percent notes that priced to yield 337 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries and $1 billion of 12-year, 5.75 percent bonds that yielded 323 basis points more than government debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Proceeds will help fund a tender offer for the firm’s 8 percent senior secured notes due in 2017 and 11 percent bonds maturing in 2018, the Rotterdam-based company said in a statement.

LyondellBasell is refinancing as management seeks to lift its credit ratings from junk status and to cut interest expenses to below $200 million from about $800 million in 2010, according to a Feb. 22 presentation. Standard & Poor’s raised the chemical maker’s corporate credit rating to BBB-, the lowest step of investment-grade.

“This is an additional play to move into the investment-grade level and refinance into lower rates,” Wen Li, an analyst at CreditSights Inc. in New York, said in a telephone interview. “If the economy continues at the current pace, and they continue to make huge amounts of profit and move their capital structure in a way to appease the rating agencies, they should be able to.”

LyondellBasell filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009 when it ran short of cash as demand for chemicals and plastics plummeted during the worst recession in seven decades.

Takefuji Owner J Trust Plans to Triple Monthly Consumer Lending

J Trust Co., the Japanese financial services company that bought bankrupt Takefuji Corp., aims to more than triple consumer lending to 5 billion yen ($60 million) a month by tapping client data acquired in the deal.

Lopro Corp., J Trust’s lending unit, plans to initially lend 1.5 billion yen a month under the Takefuji brand starting this month, J Trust Chief Executive Officer Nobuyoshi Fujisawa said in an interview on March 21. He declined to comment on when the company would reach the monthly target.

Fujisawa in December beat South Korea’s A&P Financial Co. to buy Takefuji for 25.2 billion yen, almost tripling J Trust’s consumer loans outstanding to 37 billion yen. J Trust on March 1 completed the purchase of Takefuji’s assets, including data from more than 8 million borrowers, without inheriting liabilities such as obligations to refund overcharged interest to customers.

“Our acquisition of Takefuji is a big asset that allows us to draw our consumer-lending business picture,” he said. “From the huge amount of client data, we should be able to find potential customers and grow our lending.”

J Trust’s shares have almost tripled on the Osaka Securities Exchange since Dec. 28, when Takefuji named the Japanese company as the winning bidder. J Trust has taken over 24 billion yen of recoverable loan assets from Takefuji, Fujisawa said.

Elpida Shares Close at 1 Yen Before Delisting on Bankruptcy

Elpida Memory Inc. closed at 1 yen in Tokyo trading before a delisting that will wipe out shareholders in a company that was valued at more than $1.1 billion before it filed for bankruptcy last month.

The chipmaker, whose customers include Apple Inc., will be delisted after seeking court protection with 448 billion yen ($5.4 billion) of liabilities last month. Elpida, which went public in November 2004, failed after losses in the past five quarters, exacerbated by falling chip prices and a rising yen, left it unable to repay debt.

The last Japanese maker of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips sought court protection after slowing personal-computer sales cut prices for its products and the strong Japanese currency eroded earnings from overseas. Customers may have to pay more for chips if Elpida is liquidated, as the industry would lose 12 percent of capacity, according to TrendForce Corp., a Taipei-based research company.

IAG May Purchase American Airlines Stake, Sunday Times Says

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, owner of British Airways, may buy a stake in American Airlines to pre-empt a similar move by a rival, the Sunday Times reported, without saying how it obtained the information.

IAG has been prompted to consider the step as US Airways Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. also may bid for AMR Corp.’s American, according to the report. IAG Chief Executive Officer William Walsh is weighing several options, the Times said.

“We have no comment on the report, as we don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” Andy Backover, an AMR spokesman, told Bloomberg by e-mail. “IAG has been a very supportive partner throughout this process and has consistently expressed a strong vote of confidence in our business plan for a successful restructuring.”

Laura Goodes, a spokeswoman for London-based IAG, declined to comment when reached on March 25 by phone. Fort Worth, Texas-based American and British Airways are the biggest carriers in the Oneworld airline alliance.

-- With assistance by Charles Mead in New York, Nidaa Bakhsh and Mathew Carr in London, Naoko Fujimura, Shigeru Sato and Takako Taniguchi in Tokyo. Editor: Anthony Aarons

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