JBS goes back to the drawing board

by Erica Shaffer
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SÃO PAULO, Brazil – JBS SA will weigh alternative strategies for growth after one of the company’s shareholders vetoed its plans for a global restructuring.

Wesley Batista, global CEO of JBS, told analysts during a recent conference call that the company intends to respect the decision of Brazil’s development Bank, BNDES, to veto the proposed reorganization. BNDESPar, the equity arm of BNDES, holds a 20.36 percent stake in JBS.

 “In all BNDES’ analysis and work that they did…they came to the conclusion that the reorganization was not the best way for JBS to go forward and to create shareholder value,” Batista said.

In a statement, BNDES explained that the bank acted to protect the company’s interests, saying the reorganization would “substantially alter the rights and duties conferred to all shareholders, with repercussions of various kinds, and subject them to foreign law and jurisdiction.”

Under the proposed reorganization JBS intended to contribute all of its assets except its Brazilian beef business to a new holding company called New Holdco, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). New Holdco was to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of JBS International, while JBS SA was designated as a consolidated subsidiary of JBS Foods International and still trading separately on the Brazilian stock exchange. JBS Foods International was to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

JBS also planned to move its physical headquarters to Dublin, Ireland, but become a tax resident in the United Kingdom.

Despite the setback, Batista said JBS has many other alternatives available to expand the company and broaden its access to capital. But Batista and other JBS executives declined to give details about those alternatives. However, another plan could emerge in 2017.

“…we took a considerable amount of time in developing the reorganization that we announced and these kinds of reorganizations take a lot of effort and we want to make sure that [we] get it right,” CFO Russ Colaco told analysts. “We want to be measured about it and consider where we take the company and protect …the interest of the company and the stakeholders.”

In the meantime, Batista expressed optimism for the JBS’s prospects heading into 2017. He said markets for beef, pork and poultry are performing well for JBS, and that the worst of Brazil’s economic woes are behind the company. “Looking forward,” Batista said, “we strongly believe that we have a unique platform, a very strong business across each region that we operate; we have here a very, very strong management team… We are the market leader in the protein sector today. So, I’m very confident that we are going to keep working and creating value and delivering strong results.”

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