A judge in Argentina has issued a ruling to stop cash-strapped crusher Vicentin from selling some of its assets, AgriCensus reported from local press coverage on 28 September.
Judge Nicolas Foppiani, a criminal judge in Rosario City, issued the ruling on behalf of the company’s creditors amid fears that any asset sales would make it harder for investors to collect on their debts.
The move followed Vicentin’s recent sale of its meat packing plant Friar to Dutch investment fund BAF. This led a group of Vicentin’s creditors to pursue legal steps that prevented the judge overseeing the company’s preventive bankruptcy process in San Lorenzo, Judge Fabian Lorenzini, from banning it from selling other companies.
However, a lack of response from the judge had forced creditors to seek a precautionary measure at Rosario crown court, AgriCensus said.
The ruling covers Vicentin’s shares in oilseed crusher Renova, a 50-50 joint venture set up by the company and Switzerland-based international trader Glencore in 2006.
In December 2019, Vicentin sold one-third of its stake in Renova to Glencore Agriculture, increasing Glencore’s stake to 66.67%. Vicentin retained 33.33% ownership of Renova.
Vicentin has faced financial problems since defaulting on payments to grain suppliers and brokerage firms in December 2019.
The company was believed to owe approximately US$350M to grain suppliers, with a total estimated debt of US$1.5bn, AgriCensus said.
In August, Argentina president Alberto Fernandez confirmed his government had dropped plans to renationalise Vicentin after initiatives aimed at taking control away from the family-owned crusher were stopped by Judge Lorenzini.
On 9 June, Fernandez had issued decree 522/20 to announce a 60-day intervention period as part of a plan to nationalise Vicentin in a move to ‘rescue’ the company and prevent it falling into the hands of foreign companies, AgriCensus said.