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OGX, creditors near accord to swap debt for stock: sources

The headquarters of OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA, the cash-strapped Brazilian oil company controlled by former billionaire Eike Batis
The headquarters of OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA, the cash-strapped Brazilian oil company controlled by former billionaire Eike Batis

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Sabrina Lorenzi

SAO PAULO/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - OGX Petróleo e Gas Participações SA and its creditors are close to a deal to transform some of OGX's $5.1 billion debt into stock, stripping Brazilian businessman Eike Batista of a controlling stake in the oil company, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.

The parties might announce the terms of a deal as early as next week, one of the sources said. Under the terms still under discussion, bondholders would get a 55 percent stake in OGX, while founder and controlling shareholder Eike Batista's holding would fall to 5 percent from about 51 percent, both sources added.

Bondholders are also considering a proposal to inject $150 million into the company to bolster capital spending, ramp up output at offshore fields and continue operations, said the second source, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.

An agreement between the company and creditors might help successfully kick off OGX's bankruptcy protection process, the largest-ever filed in a Latin American nation. The company on October 30 sought court protection from creditors after failing to win relief on its $5.1 billion debt.

The price on OGX's 8.375 percent bond due April 2022 rose slightly on Tuesday to almost 10 cents on the dollar from about 9 cents on Monday.

The bankruptcy filing marked another step in the unraveling of former billionaire Batista's industrial empire, which he has been dismantling after disappointing output from offshore OGX wells set off a crisis confidence by investors.

If the court approves the request, OGX will have 60 days to come up with a corporate restructuring plan. The company's creditors, which include Pacific Investment Management Co, the world's largest bond fund commonly known as Pimco, and other U.S.-based investment funds, will then have 30 days to endorse or reject the plan.

A spokeswoman for OGX in Rio de Janeiro declined to comment, although she acknowledged talks with creditors are underway. Efforts to reach bankers at Rothschild, the investment bank advising OGX bondholders, as well as a spokesman for Pimco in Newport Beach, California, were unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Sabrina Lorenzi; Additional reporting by Jeb Blount in Rio de Janeiro. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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