SANTIAGO, March 22 (Reuters) - Italian utility Enel’s restructuring of its Latin American assets has suffered a legal setback in Chile after a local court partially upheld a claim against it filed by a pension fund shareholder.
The appeals court of Santiago found in favor of a claim by pension fund AFP Habitat that the restructure should have been treated as a related party transaction, according to court papers filed Tuesday.
In December, Enel tweaked its plan to reshuffle its Latin American assets into two new holding companies after Chile’s powerful pension fund shareholders had complained, a rare example of shareholder activism in the region.
The tweaks were enough to gain the support of most shareholders and give the deal the green light, but Habitat remained unconvinced. It owns a 2.4 percent stake in one of the current holding firms, Enersis Americas, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Habitat argues that the restructure will leave some shareholders worse off, and has been fighting the process in the courts. Last year it appealed the regulator’s decision to treat the restructure as a series of mergers rather than a related party transaction.
A related party transaction would have implied greater independent scrutiny.
The company can appeal the judgment, which in the meantime effectively blocks the restructure from continuing in its present form.
Enersis declined to comment. (Reporting by Erik Lopez and Felipe Iturrieta, Writing by Rosalba O‘Brien; Editing by David Gregorio)