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Brazil judge accepts bankruptcy protection for Batista's OSX

Eike Batista, Chairman and CEO of EBX Group speaks at a dinner panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 30, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A judge in Rio de Janeiro on Monday accepted a bankruptcy-protection request made earlier this month by OSX Brasil SA (OSXB3.SA), the shipbuilder controlled by Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista, giving OSX 180 days to prepare a restructuring plan.

The judge, Gilberto Clovis Farias Matos, said the request by OSX and two of its three non-traded subsidiaries, OSX Construção Naval Ltda and OSX Serviços Operacionais Ltda, met the criteria of Brazil's corporate legislation, according to a statement issued by the press office of the Justice Tribunal of Rio de Janeiro state.

As such, the statement said, the court has the authority to shield them from creditors. In his decision to accept the bankruptcy petition, Farias Matos wrote that the companies "cover a market niche with heavy investments from international creditors, hundreds of jobs, suppliers and service providers that carry out an important function in the economy."

In the meantime OSX and the two units, one which owns the OSX shipyard north of Rio de Janeiro and the other which provides ship and vessel-operations services, will each have to develop its own individual recovery plan and its own unique creditor list. The requirement, the judge ruled, is necessary even if the plans are considered by the group to be interdependent or identical.

The case is before the 4th Corporate Division of the Rio de Janeiro State Justice Tribunal in Rio de Janeiro, case number 0392571-55.2013.8.19.0001.

(Reporting by Jeb Blount and Sabrina Lorenzi; editing by Andrew Hay)