Minerva to Delay Athena IPO as Trade War Roils Markets

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian meat powerhouse Minerva SA is delaying the initial public offering of its Athena Foods unit as an escalation in U.S. and China trade tensions roil markets.

While the company secured investor pledges for all Athena shares in the offering, final pricing missed expectations, people with knowledge of the Chilean book-building process said earlier Monday. Minerva later confirmed the decision in a statement, citing recent adverse global market conditions.

Minerva shares slumped 8 percent in Sao Paulo, the biggest decline in seven years, on a day that stocks and commodities tumbled after China retaliated with higher tariffs on a range of American goods.

South America’s largest beef exporter was seeking to raise as much as $400 million through the sale of a stake in Athena, which comprises operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Most of the proceeds were earmarked to pay down debt -- Minerva had committed to using at least $250 million to buy back bonds within a year after the offering. The company may consider another attempt to sell shares in Chile in a few months as market conditions improve, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said.

The delay is the latest in a series of frustrated attempts by Brazilian meat companies to sell shares overseas since larger rival JBS SA first planned a U.S. offering back in 2010 and again in 2016. Similar plans announced over the past few years by Marfrig Global Foods SA and BRF SA also failed.

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