October 26, 2017 / 9:02 AM / a year ago

Italy's Mossi Ghisolfi draws interest for troubled U.S. assets - sources

FRANKFURT/MILAN, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Italian plastics multinational Mossi Ghisolfi has attracted interest from a series of buyers, including plastics maker Indorama, for its U.S. assets placed under Chapter 11 restructuring, sources close to the situation said.

The assets, which include one of the world's largest plastic bottle production plant projects, could fetch up to $1 billion, though a sale could take some time, one of the sources said.

Rothschild is running the proceedings, the sources said.

Mossi Ghisolfi, founded by the Ghisolfi family in 1953, is famous for introducing PET, a plastic used for soft drink bottles, in Italy and across Europe.

In 2013, it considered listing its M&G Chemicals business in Hong Kong but then pulled plans as market conditions worsened.

The unexpected death of former managing director Guido Ghisolfi in 2015 and big cost overruns at its Corpus Christi PET plant in the United States have hit business.

Last year, M&G Finanziaria, the holding company owned by the Ghisolfi family, had a 90 percent fall in operating profits to 6.9 million euros ($8 million) on revenues of 1.7 billion euros. Debt stood at around 2.5 billion euros.

"Indorama, Reliance Industries and Alpek are interested," one of the sources said. The source said no Chinese names had expressed interest since they preferred to build their own plants at home.

Another source said the replacement value of the company's U.S. assets, or what it would cost to build them from scratch, was in the range of $2-3 billion.

"It's going to be a drawn-out process with some debt being cut off," the source said.

Mossi Ghisolfi (M&G) declined to comment. Indorama, Reliance Industries and Alpek were not immediately available for comment.

M&G -- which in Italy owns Beta Renewables, the first plant in the world to produce second-generation ethanol -- recently said it had filed for creditor protection for units in Italy.

"The companies are studying a proposal for an arrangement that will allow their overall activities to continue as a going concern, although they cannot exclude alternative solutions at the end of the ongoing technical assessments," the company said on its website.

Italian investment bank Mediobanca is leading the process in Italy, a different source said, adding a series of private equity and industrial players had expressed early interest.

The source declined to say how much the Italian operations could be worth but said it could be "several hundred millions".

$1 = 0.8462 euros Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Stephen Jewkes. Editing by Jane Merriman

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