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A unit of Grupo Mexico SAB, Mexico’s biggest mining company, intentionally harmed creditors of Asarco LLC by stripping the company’s stake in Southern Copper Corp., a judge ruled.

A unit of Grupo Mexico SAB, Mexico's biggest mining company, intentionally harmed creditors of Asarco LLC by stripping the company's stake in Southern Copper Corp., a judge ruled.  4

A unit of Grupo Mexico SAB, Mexico’s biggest mining company, intentionally harmed creditors of Asarco LLC by stripping the company’s stake in Southern Copper Corp., a judge ruled.

Americas Mining Corp. is liable for the “actual fraudulent transfer” of a 54 percent stake in Southern Copper away from Asarco, a separate Grupo Mexico unit that is in bankruptcy, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen said Aug. 30.

“The court determines that AMC entered into the challenged transaction with full knowledge that Asarco’s creditors would be hindered or delayed,” Hanen wrote in his ruling.

Asarco’s court-appointed directors sued Phoenix-based Americas Mining last year, seeking $8.18 billion in actual damages, almost five times Grupo Mexico’s 2007 net income. Hanen asked both sides to submit by Sept. 15 views on how much money Americas Mining should pay in damages.

Americas Mining said in a statement that it would appeal the decision. Hanen ruled that the unit didn’t commit a more common form of bankruptcy fraud and also denied Asarco’s request for punitive damages, according to the opinion.

Because of the mixed nature of the 190-page ruling, it will not be obvious which side came out on top until the judge rules on damages, bankruptcy attorney Evan Flaschen said in an interview. Normally a judge looks at the actual amount of money lost because of the disputed transfer, said Flaschen, who runs the financial restructuring group at the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani.

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