Americanas Crash Deepens as BTG Cites Fraud in Legal Battle

Americanas SA shares sank further after the Brazilian retailer, whose main backers include billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, obtained a decision that paves the way for a potential bankruptcy filing, sparking a legal reaction from creditors that accuse the company of fraud, Bloomberg reported. The Rio de Janeiro-based firm said on Friday a local court granted it protection against early debt maturity and asset-seizure for a 30-day period, after which Americanas could file for bankruptcy protection. The decision follows the surprise departure of the firm’s chief executive and financial officers last week due to “accounting inconsistencies” estimated at around 20 billion reais ($3.9 billion) tied to supply finance operations. These inconsistencies will require adjustments that could impact the company’s past balance sheets and possibly breach covenants that could lead to early debt maturity of nearly 40 billion reais, the court decision reads. Americanas also told the court that some creditors moved to request some of its assets be frozen, including over 1.2 billion reais by Banco BTG Pactual SA. BTG went to court trying to revert the decision and accused the company of fraud, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg. The judge denied the request, citing no urgency for the matter. BTG is planning to go to court again, according to people familiar with the matter. Read more.