JBS Sells U.K. Food Unit to Its Pilgrim's Pride Subsidiary

(Bloomberg) -- JBS SA, the embattled Brazilian meat company whose former chairman was arrested over the weekend, agreed to sell U.K. poultry producer Moy Park to another subsidiary for about 790 million pounds ($1.04 billion).

The deal will achieve about $50 million in annual cost savings over the next two years, according to a statement Monday from the acquirer, Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. The second-largest U.S. chicken producer will finance the takeover using cash on hand, existing credit facilities and a seller financing note issued to JBS, which Pilgrim’s said it intends to replace with permanent financing.

JBS will use the proceeds from the Moy Park sale to reduce its short-term debt in Brazil, it said in a regulatory filing. The meatpacker said the deal maintains JBS’ diversified product portfolio and will further support its intention to seek a public listing in the U.S. The company also said the deal was approved by independent members representing minority shareholders in a special committee that was delegated full authority from Pilgrim’s board to analyze, negotiate and approve the transaction.

The acquisition also gives Pilgrim’s growth opportunities in Europe, with access to an additional 300 million consumers and to local chicken production in the U.K., company executives said Monday on a conference call.

The deal doesn’t need further approval by the Brazilian Court or antitrust authorities in the U.K., according Pilgrim’s executives. JBS shares rose 0.7 percent to 8.25 reais ($2.68) at 11:31 a.m. New York time, while Pilgrim’s stocks fell 3.8 percent to $27.99.

Batista Brothers

Joesley and Wesley Batista, the scandal-hit Brazilian brothers whose family controls JBS, have been shedding assets to help pay for legal settlements after they confessed to graft and other crimes that allowed them to carry out a massive acquisition spree in Latin America, the U.S. and elsewhere. JBS and its holding company, J&F Investimentos SA, agreed last month to sell dairy producer Vigor Alimentos SA to Mexico’s Grupo Lala SAB in a deal worth 5.73 billion reais ($1.86 billion). J&F also agreed a week ago to sell pulpmaker Eldorado Brasil Celulose SA to Paper Excellence NV for 15 billion reais.

Joesley Batista turned himself into police, J&F confirmed Sunday, following a Supreme Court order. A Brazilian judge had earlier issued an arrest warrant and temporarily suspended the immunity granted in a plea-bargain agreement signed by the businessman with Brazilian authorities in May.

Pilgrim’s said the enterprise value of the Moy Park deal is about $1.3 billion. JBS, which holds 79 percent of Pilgrim’s Pride shares according to date compiled by Bloomberg, bought the U.K. business in 2015 for about $1.5 billion including debt.

Moy Park, which is based in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, has more than 800 farmers across the U.K. and processes more than 5.7 million birds a week.

Barclays Plc was Pilgrim’s financial adviser on the deal. Evercore Inc. was adviser to the special committee of the Pilgrim’s board of directors formed to negotiate the takeover. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP was Pilgrim’s legal adviser.