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SAO PAULO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Log-In Logística Intermodal SA , one of Brazil's largest operators of cargo ships and port terminals, hired Moelis & Co. to advise on the refinancing of 1.9 billion reais ($475 million) worth of bank loans, three sources with direct knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday.
The board of Rio de Janeiro-based Log In, which has more than 1,500 clients in South America's Mercosur trade bloc, this week approved the renegotiation of payment terms with creditors, said two of the sources, who requested anonymity.
Bankers at Moelis began meetings with creditors, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco do Brasil SA, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banco Santander Brasil SA , on Wednesday, one of the sources said.
According to the first source, Log-In decided to hire Moelis in the middle of a fundraising plan worth 500 million reais. BR Partners Banco de Investimento SA is in talks with private equity firms, logistic companies and other so-called strategic investors to raise money for Log-In, the second source said.
Companies in Brazil, struggling with Brazil's steepest recession in a quarter century, a surge in borrowing costs and a currency slump, are ramping up demand for advisory services on debt restructuring. The newfound caution of private-sector lenders has made it harder for companies like Log-In to refinance existing loans or make new ones.
Concern is mounting that years of rampant government, corporate and household borrowing have left the Brazilian economy, and therefore some of the nation's biggest companies, vulnerable to global market turmoil.
Over the past year, sugar and ethanol mills, oil and gas industry suppliers and steelmakers, burdened with high leverage and challenging market outlooks, have stepped up efforts to refinance maturing debt.
In an emailed statement to Reuters, Log-In said it had "no knowledge" of a refinancing process. Santander Brasil declined to comment. Moelis, BR Partners, Itaú, Banco do Brasil, and HSBC did not have an immediate comment on the matter.
$1 = 3.9631 Brazilian reais Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Dan Grebler