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Debt of troubled Nueva Rumasa affiliates triples their worth

Controversial conglomerate's attempt to stave off bankruptcy appears doomed

The depth of financial crisis within Spanish conglomerate Nueva Rumasa may be more serious than the Ruiz-Mateos family has so far revealed. The last statements filed with the Mercantile Registry by its troubled affiliates reflect that their combined debt is more than triple their entire net worth.

The firms- Carcesa, Clesa, Dhul, Complejo Bodeguero Bellavista (Garvey), Quesería Menorquina, Nuevos Hoteles Agrupados, Chocolates Elgorriaga, Hibramer and the soccer team Rayo Vallecano- are 524 million euros in debt, with more than half of that money owed to financial lenders, filings show.

The nine affiliates have a net worth of 159 million euros, according to Nueva Rumasa's own figures.

On Thursday, Nueva Rumasa's owner, the controversial José María Ruiz-Mateos announced that the companies would seek protection under a clause in bankruptcy law that would allow the conglomerate to begin talks with creditors and to try to avoid going into receivership. Since 2009, some 5,000 investors pumped an estimated 140 million euros into the floundering conglomerate through various issues of supposedly high-yield notes. The National Securities Commission (CNMV) had warned potential investors on many occasions about the dangers of investing in Nueva Rumasa. The old Rumasa was expropriated by the Socialist government in 1983.