(New throughout, adding Vale and BHP statement saying Samarco
is not for sale, sources confirming talks and creditors
responding to criticism of its restructuring plan)
SAO PAULO, June 20 (Reuters) - Miners Vale SA and
BHP Group said in a joint statement on Monday
they are not interested in selling their joint venture Samarco,
after reports of the interest of Brazilian steelmaker Companhia
Siderurgica Nacional (CSN).
"BHP Brasil and Vale say Samarco is not for sale and
reaffirm its support for the restructuring plan filed by the
employees' unions," the companies said in a joint statement.
The statement added the companies are "focused on the
mediation hearing in the bankruptcy process" scheduled for
CSN is drafting an offer to acquire miner Samarco Mineracao
SA, which will be presented by its adviser RK Partners to the
bankruptcy court judge overseeing its debt restructuring, two
people with knowledge of the matter said.
RK Partners has reached out to Samarco shareholders Vale and
BHP Group, along with unions and financial creditors, the
sources said. One of the sources said Vale has already told CSN
the company is not interested in selling Samarco.
A key problem to reach an agreement is financing Samarco's
liabilities related to its 2015 disaster in the city of Mariana.
Shareholders, which have committed to pay for damages, may
resist any proposal to give up control of operations while
keeping that liability.
A mediation hearing was scheduled by the judge overseeing
Samarco's bankruptcy between two groups presenting competing
restructuring proposals, one led by financial creditors and the
other by the employees' unions with the support of Vale and BHP.
According to a document filed by Samarco with the bankruptcy
court and seen by Reuters, the miner is asking the bankruptcy
judge to reject the plan proposed by creditors for
Samarco's lawyers say the 96% reduction in the 23 billion
real ($4.5 billion) shareholders credit with the company is
subject to tax and would create a $1.5 billion tax liability
that was not assessed in the plan.
In a statement, the group of creditors said Samarco's
analysis about the plan is incorrect and said that reducing the
"undue" credit with shareholders will not create tax
($1 = 5.1481 reais)
(Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer
Editing by Brad Haynes, Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)