Argentina soy crusher Vicentin turns to courts for debt restructuring

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Argentina's top exporter of processed soy, Vicentin, has asked a judge to begin negotiations for debt restructuring, the company said on Monday, as the firm struggles to cope with a widening economic crisis in the South American nation.

The near 90-year-old firm, which defaulted on payments to suppliers late last year, was forced to sell part of its stake in a joint venture with Glencore in December, as its plans for expansion collided with Argentine financial woes.

The company said in a statement it would seek a "restructuring of its debt in conditions and terms that are mutually beneficial to both creditors and the company."

The soy crusher went on a credit-fueled expansion last year before political uncertainties sparked a market crash and led international banks to pull back from the South American grains powerhouse, further pressuring the company.

Vicentin's financial meltdown underscores the challenge facing the new Peronist government of President Alberto Fernandez as he looks to revive growth, calm rampant inflation and revamp about $100 billion in sovereign debt.

Argentina is the global top exporter of soy meal and soy oil.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski and Maximilian Heath, writing by Dave Sherwood Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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