(Removes Pimco from lead after correction from bondholder group
* Novo Banco sold to U.S. private equity firm in March deal
* Bondholders say bank sale breached public tender rules
* Central bank says does not comment on legal proceedings
LISBON, April 11 Bondholders led by U.S. fund
Blackrock have filed an injunction to block the sale of
Portugal's Novo Banco over the central bank's transfer of bonds
worth 2.2 billion euros ($2.33 billion) to a bank for bad loans,
the group said on Tuesday.
The transfer in 2015 of the bonds from Novo Banco to Banco
Espirito Santo, which was turned into "bad bank" after it
collapsed in 2014, led to losses for bondholders of around 1.5
billion euros, the group said in a statement.
Portugal agreed in March to sell Novo Banco to U.S. private
equity firm Lone Star in exchange for a 1 billion euro capital
A spokesman for the bondholders said an injunction was filed
on Sunday to a Lisbon court against the sale of Novo Banco.
The group said in a statement it had launched the action
because of "discriminatory and prejudicial action" by the Bank
of Portugal, or central bank.
It said the sale process "breached the applicable rules of
public tenders," including preventing members of the group
bidding because they had challenged the bond transfer.
"The Bank of Portugal changed the rules during the course of
the tender process, which allowed Lone Star to benefit from a
number of conditions that were not offered to other potential
bidders," the statement added.
A spokesman for the central bank said it did not comment on
legal proceedings while they were ongoing. Officials at the
Finance Ministry were not immediately available to comment.
Banco Espirito Santo collapsed in 2014 under the debts of
its founding family.
The state injected 4.9 billion euros to rescue the bank and
transferred the main operations to a new institution, Novo
Banco. Banco Espirito Santo was left holding the bad debts.
The central bank's decision in 2015 to transfer bonds from
Novo Banco, a move that boosted its capital ratios, raised
protests from bondholders at the time.
In its statement, the bondholders said the group included
Blackrock and others who had been "large and long-term financial
partners of the Portuguese government, financial institutions
The Bank of Portugal "continues to disregard the law and the
most basic principles of market economy, to the detriment of the
reputation of the Portuguese republic," the group said.
($1 = 0.9425 euros)
(Reporting By Sergio Goncalves and Axel Bugge; Editing by