Indular Manufacturas, a fledgling consortium owned by Argentine textiles mogul Gillermo Gotelli and US conglomerate Leucadia National Corp, has bought three plants from bankrupt Argentine textiles group Gatic for $4 million, just-style has learned.

A Buenos Aires court sold the plants to Gotelli as part of efforts to carry out Argentina's "biggest and most complex" textiles bankruptcy liquidation, Pedro Escudero, industry sub secretary for the Buenos Aires Province confirmed.

The state has also approved the expropriation of two Gatic plants to workers cooperatives, Escudero added.

Gotelli, who tried to buy Gatic when it filed for chapter 11 in late 2001, will invest $16.8 million to restart the plants located in Las Flores, Pilar and Coronel Suarez in Buenos Aires, a spokeswoman for Indular confirmed.

The plants produce an undisclosed tonnage of sports shoes and apparel, she added.

Argentine news website Infobae said Indular hopes to resume production in one month and preserve the factories' 1,000 jobs. It intends to finish 2005 with $25 million in revenues.

Gotelli, a former director of big Argentine textiles group Alpargatas, and Gatic's owner family Bakchellian (who workers have accused of fraudulent dealings) could not be reached. Leucadia refused to comment.

With approximate debts of $180 million, Gatic was forced to liquidate on 14 September after 1,500 angry workers demanded $1m in late wages.

A maker of shoes (a major supplier to Nike), sports apparel and diverse textiles, Gatic had 11 plants employing 5,000 people. It was a victim of Argentina's deep three-year
recession and its ensuing peso currency crisis, observers said.

Escudero said that a Buenos Aires court has also ordered the expropriation of Gatic's Pigue and San Martin thread, yarn, apparel and shoes factories near Buenos Aires.

The move will allow 400 workers in the ownership cooperatives to run the plants on their own until they (or a private investor) can buy them.

The government is still deciding whether to auction or expropriate Gatic's remaining six plants, according to state officials.

By Ivan Castano.