(Adds share performance, details)
By Tatiana Bautzer
SAO PAULO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Log-In Logística Intermodal SA , one of Brazil’s largest operators of cargo ships and port terminals, hired Moelis & Co. to advise on the refinancing of 1.9 billion reais ($475 million) worth of bank loans, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.
The board of Rio de Janeiro-based Log In, which has more than 1,500 clients in South America’s Mercosur trade bloc, this week approved the renegotiation of payment terms with creditors, said two of the sources, who requested anonymity.
Bankers at Moelis began meetings with creditors, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco do Brasil SA, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banco Santander Brasil SA , on Wednesday, one of the sources said.
According to the first source, Log-In decided to hire Moelis in the middle of a fundraising plan worth 500 million reais. BR Partners Banco de Investimento SA is in talks with private equity firms, logistic companies and other so-called strategic investors to raise money for Log-In, the second source said.
Log-In shares accelerated gains on the news, adding 2.8 percent to 1.08 reais in afternoon trading in São Paulo. The stock is down 68 percent this year.
Companies in Brazil, struggling with the country’s steepest recession in a quarter century, a surge in borrowing costs and a currency slump, are ramping up demand for advisory services on debt restructuring. The newfound caution of private-sector lenders has made it harder for companies like Log-In to refinance existing loans or make new ones.
Concern is mounting that years of rampant government, corporate and household borrowing have left the Brazilian economy, and therefore some of the nation’s biggest companies, vulnerable to global market turmoil.
Over the past year, sugar and ethanol mills, oil and gas industry suppliers and steelmakers, burdened with high leverage and challenging market outlooks, have stepped up efforts to refinance maturing debt.
In an emailed statement to Reuters, Log-In said it had “no knowledge” of a refinancing process. Moelis, BR Partners, Santander Brasil and HSBC declined to comment. Itaú and Banco do Brasil did not have an immediate comment.
$1 = 3.9631 Brazilian reais Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Dan Grebler