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Precious metals refiner Asahi wins auction to acquire Republic Metals

Louisville, Kentucky — Precious metals refiner Asahi beat out Switzerland-based Valcambi SA in a court-supervised auction to acquire bankrupt Republic Metals Refining Corp., sources said Friday.

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The auction, held Thursday in New York City, lasted several hours before the subsidiary of Japan's Asahi Holdings prevailed with a winning offer of $25.5 million, sources said.

Last month, Miami-based Republic selected Valcambi to serve as stalking horse bidder after the latter offered to pay $16 million for all of Republic's assets, including its only manufacturing plant in Opa-locka, Florida. Under bidding rules that Judge Sean Lane of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan approved, a bidder had to offer at least $16.6 million to qualify.

Multiple attempts to reach attorneys for Asahi, Valcambi and Republic were unsuccessful Friday. A Republic official declined to comment on the auction except to say a report including the results is expected to be filed with the court Monday.

The auction pit two of the world's largest precious metals refiners against one another. Valcambi nearly acquired Republic last fall before negotiations collapsed in late October. Republic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization November 2, two days later. The Rubin family of south Florida has owned Republic since 1980.

Since Republic filed for bankruptcy, some 40 companies that did business with it have come forward to file claims with the court. In most cases, the companies contend they sent gold or silver to be refined by Republic, but have not received the finished product. At least one such company, Cornerstone Metals, has cut a deal with Republic that has been approved by the court.

Lane recently denied a request by the US Trustee in the case to appoint an examiner to consolidate the claims and look into a $70 million metal inventory shortfall reported by Republic last spring.

-- Bob Matyi,

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson,

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