SAO PAULO – Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS, which is mired in several corruption scandals, said Tuesday it planned to sell assets worth 6 billion reais ($1.82 billion).
Among the assets included in the divestment plan are a 19.2 percent interest in dairy company Vigor Alimentos, a stake in Britain’s Moy Park, one of Europe’s largest meat processors, and an interest in Five Rivers Cattle Feeding, JBS said.
The assets are being divested to bolster the balance sheet, the meatpacking giant said.
JBS recently sold its meatpacking operations in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to Brazil’s Minerva for about $300 million.
The asset sale is subject to approval by the board of directors and the BNDES development bank, which owns a 21.32 percent stake in JBS.
JBS, one of the world’s largest meat exporters, is trying to increase liquidity to service its debt amid an inability to obtain credit due to the corruption scandals in which it is involved.
In an interview published on June 17, JBS co-owner Joesley Batista alleged that President Michel Temer headed up Brazil’s biggest and most dangerous mafia.
Temer “is the head of the criminal organization that operates in the Chamber (of Deputies),” Brazil’s lower house of Congress, Batista told the Epoca weekly.
Batista said a mafia of politicians had continually demanded that he pay bribes and make illegal donations to election campaigns; in return, his companies received favors or were allowed to operate unhindered.
He added that the group’s leaders included Temer, an erstwhile speaker of the lower house; and Eduardo Cunha, also a former lower-house speaker and one of the highest-profile politicians to be sentenced to prison in the sprawling Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation into a $2 billion bribes-for-inflated contracts scheme centered on state oil company Petrobras.
Temer, for his part, said JBS’s owners had leveled the serious allegations in retaliation for a decision that caused the company to suffer major financial losses and prevented the business leaders from evading justice.
The president said those accusations stemmed from his administration’s decision to bar Batista and his brother, Wesley, from relocating JBS’s legal domicile from Sao Paulo to Ireland.
“Mr. Joesley Batista is the most successful criminal in Brazilian history. He enriched himself with practices he won’t have to answer for and today has his assets abroad with the blessing of the courts,” Temer said.