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W.R. Grace settles last remaining appeal to help exit bankruptcy

By Sakthi Prasad

(Reuters) - W.R. Grace & Co (GRA) said it has settled the only remaining appeal for its Chapter 11 plan with a group of bank lenders, paving the way for the U.S. chemicals maker to emerge out of bankruptcy protection after 12 years.

The company reached a settlement with holders of pre-petition bank debt, who have been demanding a higher interest rate on their loans, according to a court filing on Monday.

Grace will pay the lender group $1.1 billion, comprising $971 million of principal and undisputed interest through December 31 and $129 million in settlement, removing the last remaining obstacle to its emergence out of bankruptcy protection.

Grace filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2001, making it one of the longest bankruptcies in the history of the United States, after an asbestos leak at one of its mines led to a slew of lawsuits.

Through bankruptcy, Grace was able to pause debt repayments, survive two recessions and take advantage of a U.S. shale energy revolution that is fueling demand for its fine-powder catalysts, which help refiners process crude oil into gasoline, heating oil and other products.

John Bader, chairman of Halcyon Asset Management, the single largest owner of W.R. Grace bank debt, said that the hedge fund is pleased with the settlement.

"We recognize that the ability of W.R. Grace to emerge from bankruptcy benefits everyone with a stake in the company's future," Bader said in a statement to Reuters.

The case is W.R. Grace & Co, et al, Case No. 01-01139, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)