COLUMBIA, Md. - W.R. Grace & Co. sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its U.S. subsidiaries on Monday, saying it needs time to respond to a sharply rising number of asbestos-related lawsuits.

In the filing in Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., Grace listed J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. among its major creditors. Grace also said that it had obtained $250 million of fresh financing from Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America. If the court approves, that money would help the company pay day-to-day expenses while it reorganizes.

The specialty chemicals maker became the latest in a string of U.S. companies facing asbestos claims to file a Chapter 11 petition.

A Bank of America spokeswoman confirmed that the company has offered W.R. Grace debtor-in-possession financing but declined to say how much. A spokeswoman for J.P. Morgan Chase declined to say how much it had lent to Grace.

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