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Micron deal for Elpida Memory appears to clear legal hurdle

Elpida chips are seen at an electronic store in Tokyo's Akihabara district April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Elpida chips are seen at an electronic store in Tokyo's Akihabara district April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) - Micron Technologies Inc's planned acquisition of bankrupt Japanese chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc appeared to move closer to completion on Friday after a key deadline passed without a legal challenge.

U.S. creditors had until 4 p.m. on Friday to object to the request by Elpida to have a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware issue orders that would enforce its Japanese restructuring, according to court records.

At the center of the restructuring is the proposed sale to Micron for 200 billion yen (about $2.1 billion), which will create the world's second-largest maker of memory chips.

Micron, based in Boise, Idaho, has been losing money as smart phones and tablets gain in popularity at the expense of personal computers. Acquiring Elpida will create economies of scale and the combined company will rank second only to Samsung Electronics in the memory chip market.

While the sale proceeds will be used to repay Elpida's creditors, U.S. bondholders argued Elpida was worth up to 300 billion yen.

In May, the bondholders exhausted their legal challenges in Japan. The only avenue left to them was in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where Elpida had sought recognition for its bankruptcy plan under Chapter 15 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.

The creditors had been actively resisting the deal last year and earlier this year. However, they suffered a setback in January when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi approved a technology deal with Micron that the creditors warned would make the merger inevitable.

The bondholders are led by hedge funds Linden Advisors, Owl Creek Asset Management and Taconic Capital Advisers.

Messages left with the funds and their attorney, Christopher Shore of White & Case, were not immediately returned on Friday.

The U.S. case is In re: Elpida Memory Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 12-10947

(Reporting by Tom Hals; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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