Billionaire’s Chilean Financial Firm Seeks Bankruptcy in U.S.

Corp Group Banking SA, a Chilean financial holding company controlled by billionaire Alvaro Saieh, filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic sparked an economic slowdown that worsened fortunes in the banking sector.

The Santiago-based company sought Friday Chapter 11 protection from creditors in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The move was expected after the company skipped an interest payment last year on $500 million of 6.75% notes due 2023 and didn’t cure it when a grace period expired Oct. 15.

Corp Group Banking failed to meet its payments after the pandemic and social unrest in Chile affected operations at its main operating unit, lender Itau CorpBanca, a bank in which it owns a 26.6% stake. Amid a severe economic downturn, Itau suspended dividend payments that Corp Group relied on to meet obligations.

Saieh, who owns one of Chile’s largest conglomerates with stakes in media, retail, real estate, and hotels, agreed in 2014 to sell his controlling stake in Corpbanca to Itau Unibanco Holding SA for $1.8 billion.

Itau Corpbanca announced earlier this month a plan to sell as much as $1.15 billion in new shares to meet Basel III capital requirements.

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