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Bankruptcy judge approves case-management procedures for Republic Metals

Louisville, Kentucky — A US bankruptcy judge has approved case-management procedures for Republic Metals Refining Corp., a Miami-based precious metals refiner that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization along with affiliates earlier this month.

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Judge Sean Lane of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York said in an order Thursday that the cases of Republic Metals and Republic Carbon will be administered jointly "for procedural purposes only."

Republic Metals, which has $285 million in liabilities and previously reported a $100 million "inventory discrepancy" involving missing precious metals, filed for bankruptcy just two days after the October 31 collapse of a proposed sale of the company to Switzerland-based Valcambi SA, one of the world's largest gold refiners.

In a filing with the court, Scott Avila, a principal at financial advisory firm Paladin Management Group LLC and chief restructuring officer for Republic Metals and Republic Carbon, indicated the companies are expecting a sale during the Chapter 11 process.

The on-again, off-again, talks with Valcambi had given Republic Metals and Republic Carbon hope that a deal might be struck outside of the potentially expensive and time-consuming Chapter 11 process, he said.

By October 26, "the parties were extremely close to finalizing the material terms of an immediate, going-concern acquisition of the debtors by the potential purchaser," Avila said, "with the last open diligence items to be resolved" by October 31.

But, "unfortunately, the potential buyer, debtors and lenders were unable to finalize the terms of an acquisition by the end of the day, October 31," he added, without elaborating as to why the transaction fell through.

As a result, "with limited cash and the inability to trade metals or deliver refined goods, the debtors commenced these proceedings on November 2, 2018, to run an orderly sale process of their assets and operations," Avila continued.

Valcambi has said the Republic acquisition would ensure "more efficient and better service to the existing and prospective clients of [Republic] " by enhancing quality control, technology and various other aspects of refining" of Republic, making Republic "one of the most preferred and best refinery of precious metals in the world."

Valcambi operates one of the world's largest integrated precious metals plants, with an annual refining capacity of up to 2,000 mt. The company refines gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

Republic has about 35 supplier agreements that provide for the supplier to deliver gold and silver dore bars or other similar raw materials to Republic Metals for refining. -- Bob Matyi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com