(Updates with details of restructuring plan)
By Gabriela Lopez
MONTERREY, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Mexican homebuilder Urbi said on Tuesday it had filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt with a plan to give its creditors a majority stake in the company.
The creditors which have so far signed the restructuring plan held some 21.9 billion pesos ($1.55 billion) in debt, equivalent to around 53.3 percent of the total claims on Urbi, the company said in a statement.
Urbi, Mexico’s third-largest homebuilder in recent years, is following its bigger peers after struggling under heavy debt loads and slumping sales of their cheap, single-unit homes in developments often located far from urban centers.
Urbi said it was still coping with “constrained liquidity” to manage its operations and meet its obligations and that it was working with its creditors to find additional financing and reactivate bridge loans provided by its major bank creditors.
The company, whose shares have been suspended for more than a year, said the plan foresaw issuing new shares representing 97.5 percent of Urbi’s capital. The bulk of the shares would be exchanged for debt, as well as for five and ten year bonds.
Current shareholders would be left with 2.5 percent of Urbi’s capital and the creditors 85 percent, the company said. The rest of the capital would be held for an incentives scheme.
The builder, along with Geo and Homex, reported slowing revenue as more Mexicans chose to live closer to their jobs and schools and a change in government housing policy diverted subsidies to apartment purchases rather than single-family homes.
Homex and Geo, formerly Mexico’s No. 2 and No. 1 homebuilders respectively, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year. (1 US dollar = 14.0950 Mexican peso) (Additional reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Grant McCool and Andrew Hay)