JBS aims to shed Alberta feedlot in divestment plan


Sao Paulo/Chicago | Reuters — Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA revealed a major divestment plan Tuesday, putting its Alberta cattle feeding assets and others on the block to cut debt after a corruption scandal raised concerns about its financing costs.

JBS, whose controlling shareholder recently agreed to pay a massive leniency fine after becoming embroiled in sweeping graft probes that have ensnared politicians and executives, said in a securities filing that its board and state development bank BNDES still had to approve the planned asset sales.

The plan, which aims to raise six billion reais (C$2.4 billion), includes a 19.2 per cent stake in Brazil-based dairy company Vigor Alimentos SA, along with its Northern Ireland unit Moy Park and Five Rivers Cattle Feeding in North America.

Greeley, Colorado-based Five Rivers has a combined feeding capacity of more than 980,000 head of cattle and locations in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho, according to its website.

In Canada, Five Rivers also manages the 75,000-head capacity Lakeside Feeders feedlot, not far from the JBS beef packing plant at Brooks in southern Alberta. The feedlot came to JBS when it took over XL Foods’ Canadian operations in 2013.

JBS, in a statement Tuesday said the divestment program “will reduce the company’s net debt and, consequently, its financial leverage, strengthening JBS’ financial structure.”

U.S. feeder cattle futures fell to nearly a two-month low of US140.775 cents/lb. after Tuesday’s announcement, before rebounding to trade down 1.625 cents at US143.175 cents. JBS shares were down 3.46 per cent at 6.13 reais (C$2.47) in early afternoon trading in Sao Paulo.

Traders said some investors were paring bets that JBS would have to sell larger slaughter operations, which would have been far more disruptive than selling its feed operations.

“Originally, we were unsure if a packer would have to close a plant or something like that. This is just divesting itself from a feeding unit that someone else could buy and operate,” said David Hales, a U.S. cattle analyst.

Moy Park up for sale

Moy Park is one of Britain’s top 10 food companies, with 13 processing and manufacturing units in Northern Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands and Ireland. The company supplies 25 percent of chicken consumed in Western Europe, according to its website.

Moy Park also has brands of ready-to-eat meals, breaded and frozen foods and desserts. JBS acquired Moy Park from Brazilian rival Marfrig Global Foods SA two years ago for US$1.5 billion.

Reuters reported last week that two investment banks empowered to handle a sale of Vigor have contacted French dairy producers Danone SA and Groupe Lactalis SA, Mexico’s Grupo Lala SAB de CV and Switzerland’s Emmi AG to analyze the business.

JBS has a minority state in Vigor, which is majority-controlled by JBS’ parent, J+F Investimentos SA.

Reporting for Reuters by Tatiana Bautzer in Sao Paulo and Michael Hirtzer in Chicago; additional reporting by Silvio Cascione in Brasilia and Tom Polansek in Chicago. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.

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