Abu Dhabi fund not eyeing bid for JBS, source says

Abu Dhabi/Sao Paulo | Reuters — Shares of JBS SA erased gains on Friday after a source denied that Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Development Co. PJSC was arranging partners to make a bid for control of the world’s largest meatpacker.

A person with direct knowledge of Mubadala’s strategy told Reuters that, despite a report by Brazilian business magazine Exame earlier in the day, there was no interest or intention at this point to bid for JBS.

The source asked not to be identified in order to speak freely about the matter.

A spokesman for Mubadala declined to comment. Exame, which did not say how it obtained the information, said companies including U.S. food producer Cargill might be interested in acquiring certain JBS assets, such as Pilgrim’s Pride.

Exame did not name the potential partners that it said Mubadala had sounded out for a JBS bid. The magazine report came a month after members of the billionaire Batista family, who control about 42 per cent of JBS, signed a plea deal in a corruption probe in their native Brazil.

Shares of JBS erased gains after the source denied the Exame report, falling 1.9 per cent to 6.63 reais (C$2.69) at 1:55 p.m. local time. They had risen as much as 5.9 per cent earlier.

The Batista family’s investment holding company J+F Investimentos SA, Sao Paulo-based JBS and Cargill did not have an immediate comment.

Last month, the Batistas agreed to pay a record-setting fine of 10.3 billion reais (C$4.2 billion) related to corruption and bribery allegations. Shares of JBS have shed 29 per cent since May 16, when brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista admitted in separate plea deals to bribing over 1,800 politicians.

Part of the testimonies in the plea deal implicated President Michel Temer, who Joesley Batista accused of working to obstruct a major corruption probe. Temer denies the accusations.

State loans helped fuel growth at J+F over the past decade, enabling it to keep control of JBS while expanding into fashion, dairy production, pulp processing and banking. JBS grew from a mid-sized slaughterhouse in Brazil’s Midwest into one of the world’s top-three food processing companies in over a decade through acquisitions backed in part by government funds.

Reporting for Reuters by Stanley Carvalho in Abu Dhabi and Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo. Additional reporting for Reuters by Bruno Federowski and Tatiana Bautzer in Sao Paulo.

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