UPDATE 3-Brazil's Schahin says 28 units file for bankruptcy protection
(Adds number of employees fired)
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO, April 17 (Reuters) - Twenty-eight units of Brazilian engineering firm Grupo Schahin filed for bankruptcy protection and fired 2,500 workers on Friday as a corruption scandal at key client Petróleo Brasileiro SA hampered efforts to refinance up to 6.5 billion reais ($2.1 billion) in debt.
With interests ranging from construction and electricity to oil and gas services, Schahin requested creditor protection in a São Paulo state court. Under terms of the bankruptcy plan, Schahin would exit activities in engineering and construction and focus on oil and gas services.
The company did not specify which units will file for bankruptcy protection. Some bondholders and commercial lenders were concerned that the inclusion of Schahin Engenharia, which guarantees financing for some of the rigs that the oil services unit manages, in the filing could imperil rig operations.
The number of employees fired on Friday represent about two-thirds of Schahin's total workforce, according to data provided by the company to Reuters.
The firm is the fourth seeking creditor protection in the wake of a probe into the contracting practices between state-controlled Petrobras and some of the nation's major engineering companies. Refinancing risk has climbed substantially as plunging oil prices and the impact of the Petrobras scandal curtailed access to capital markets.
"The Schahin Group profoundly regrets the dismissals involved in the restructuring of its business, but is confident of the recovery of its business as soon as possible," São Paulo-based Schahin said in a statement, but did not mention the Petrobras scandal.
Efforts to confirm with Schahin the names of the units involved were unsuccessful. Continuación...