Kaiser Aluminum Corp. on Tuesday filed voluntary petitions for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Feb. 12 filing includes operating subsidiary Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. and certain wholly owned subsidiaries. Subject to court approval, the Houston company says it also expects to finalize a $300 million loan agreement for ongoing operating needs. The company says its production and shipments of bauxite, alumina, primary aluminum products and fabricated aluminum products will continue without interruption. "The decision to seek protection under Chapter 11 will provide Kaiser with the opportunity to reorganize its financial structure and implement a strategic plan to return to sustained profitability," says Jack A. Hockema, Kaiser president and CEO. Kaiser reports that weak business conditions exacerbated by Sept. 11, in addition to asbestos litigation and legacy medical and pension costs, resulted in lower credit ratings and a loss of access to capital markets. "The reorganization process will also allow the company to expand on and quicken the pace of its operational improvements," Hockema says.