(Adds details of plan, background on Sete Brasil)
SAO PAULO, June 11 (Reuters) - A group of five Brazilian lenders agreed to extend up to $5 billion in financing for ailing rig producer Sete Brasil Participações SA, in a first step aimed at staving off bankruptcy, two sources with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday.
State lenders Banco do Brasil SA and Caixa Econômica Federal as well as private-sector lenders Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Banco Santander Brasil SA will free up the funds to Sete Brasil once their boards approve the plan, said the sources, who requested anonymity because of legal impediments to discussing the issue in public.
The first disbursements will take place during the second half of the year, provided the banks approve the plan, said the first source. Petróleo Brasileiro SA, the oil producer that is a Sete Brasil shareholder and its main client, also has to approve the rescue package, the second source said.
When Sete Brasil was founded in 2011, it pledged to spend more than $25 billion to build as many as 28 deepwater drilling platforms that would be leased to state-controlled Petrobras. But Petrobras is engulfed in a corruption scandal involving key contractors and engineering firms, and that has paralyzed rig and equipment purchases.
Rio de Janeiro-based Sete Brasil, founded by Petrobras and banks including Grupo BTG Pactual SA, faces a chronic cash-flow shortage as Petrobras delayed payments and borrowing costs spiked. In April, creditors agreed to refinance Sete Brasil’s debt repayments for 90 days so long as the rig maker would present a plan to restructure operations.
Under the rescue package, Sete Brasil will get the emergency loans to produce 14 rigs, with the ownership of another five being shared with Japanese and Singaporean creditors, the second source added.
The five banks declined to comment. Sete Brasil said in a statement to Reuters that a rescue plan was being negotiated and could be finalized and announced by early July.
Newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported the rescue plan earlier in the day. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Aluísio Alves; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn)