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Judge extends deadline for a consensus plan



Published: Sat, January 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The company and its creditors must reconcile competing proposals to bring steel mill out of bankruptcy.

WARREN -- WCI Steel and its creditors have been allowed three more weeks to complete a consensus plan for bringing the company out of bankruptcy.

The parties had a status call Friday in Akron with Judge Marilyn Shea-Stonum, the federal judge presiding over the bankruptcy case.

She said late last year that the company and creditors must come up with one consensual operating plan, which had been due Monday.

Judge Shea-Stonum has now granted a three-week extension, said WCI spokesman Tim Roberts.

The next status call with the judge will be Feb. 4.

Ownership struggle

A group of bondholders is vying for ownership of the mill. Not satisfied with their or the company's plan, she asked them to come up with a consensus.

The WCI plan, sponsored by parent company Renco Group Inc., would have enabled WCI to emerge from bankruptcy under its current ownership with a new labor contract in place.

The creditors group, which together holds $324 million of WCI's bonds secured by its property, plant and equipment, wants to buy and operate the mill. The bondholders would invest an additional $40 million in WCI, but they would not assume responsibility for the pension plan, maintaining that obligation remains with Renco.

A consensual plan would mean agreement among WCI Steel, creditors and noteholders, the United Steelworkers of America and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

WCI employs 1,750 workers. The Warren steelmaker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection more than a year ago.

Last month, WCI Steel paid $9.1 million in profit sharing and company performance compensation to hourly and salaried employees. The payments are the result of the company's posting a profit for the fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 31, 2004, company officials said.




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