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SAO PAULO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - A Brazilian state court on Friday seized an 8.9 percent stake in Investimentos e Participações em Infraestrutura SA owned by construction group OAS SA, alleging the debt-ridden builder is in imminent risk of insolvency.
Judge Roberto Corcioli Filho of the Justice Court of São Paulo state said in a telephone interview that the seizure had been requested by Pentágono SA DTVM, a trustee representing the holders of 160 million reais ($60 million) of OAS local debt notes.
OAS holds a 25 percent stake in Invepar through its wholly controlled OAS Infraestrutura SA subsidiary.
Corcioli’s order followed OAS’s decision to move some of the 105 million common and preferred shares it owns in the infrastructure company, also known as Invepar.
The trustee suspects OAS transferred the shares to protect them from the note holders and other creditors, according to court documents.
OAS plans to appeal the ruling, which it said was made on incomplete information from the plaintiffs.
“At no moment did OAS attempt to give preferential treatment to any creditor or transfer assets in order to deplete its equity,” it said in a statement.
OAS reiterated it will soon present a restructuring plan to creditors that could include asset sales to raise cash and lower its debt.
Corcioli said the asset seizure was pre-emptive and could be reversed if OAS proved the securities transfer was legal.
The seizure comes as OAS struggles with the impact from a graft and money-laundering scandal at key client Petrobras , which has undercut the state-run oil company’s own access to financing and revenue.
OAS failed to pay interest on $400 million of global bonds and on 100 million reais of debt earlier this year, and bankers are speculating a sale of its Invepar stake could help raise cash to honor some obligations.
Some of Brazil’s largest construction companies are facing more scrutiny and limited access to bond and loan markets after federal prosecutors found that executives at Petrobras took bribes in exchange for building, leasing and other contracts.
The price of OAS’s 8.25 percent bond due in October 2019 was little changed on Friday at 13.60 cents on the dollar from 12.50 cents on Thursday. At those levels, the yield on the bond is around 85 percent. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal. Editing by Matthew Lewis)