JBS SA has scrapped a plan to move some operations outside Brazil after a government agency vetoed the move, sending shares of the world’s biggest beef exporter tumbling and dealing a heavy blow to the company’s wish to become a global food processing powerhouse.
In a Wednesday securities filing, São Paulo-based JBS said BNDES Participações SA, the investment arm of Brazil’s state development bank BNDES , opposed the plan, which included separating the company’s global operations and moving them to Ireland.
Under terms of the plan, which were first reported by Reuters on May 11, the JBS Foods International unit was to be listed in New York. Investors saw the transaction as the best way for JBS to become the first Brazilian multinational with a clear division of local and global assets.
Shares plunged the most in eight years on Wednesday, signaling frustration with the suspension of a plan seen as key to accelerate growth, cut fundraising costs, optimize taxation and cater to a wider base of investors.
The billionaire Batista brothers, who are JBS’s top managers and largest shareholders, expected the reorganization to be ready by November.
A split of Brazil-based and global assets has been deemed necessary because most of JBS’s revenues now come from overseas units, especially from North America. According to people with knowledge of the situation, executives had told investors in several road shows to promote the reorganization that BNDESPar was onboard with the plan.
“This is a major negative surprise. The listing process had already been moving since May and a veto from this shareholder was totally unexpected,” said Pedro Leduc, an analyst with JPMorgan Securities. BNDESPar has 20 percent of JBS, making it the company’s No. 2 shareholder after the Batistas’ 45 percent.
Shares fell as much as 17.6 percent to 9.72 reais in mid-morning trading in São Paulo, the biggest drop since Oct. 15, 2008. The plunge pared the stock’s gains this year – since the reorganization was announced, JBS had risen 43 percent.
Management at São Paulo-based JBS scheduled a conference call with investors to discuss the decision at 1 p.m. local time on Wednesday (1500 GMT).
A BNDES representative said the state agency will comment later on Wednesday on the reorganization veto.
The reorganization was devised before a new Brazilian government implemented changes at the command of the state bank BNDES. President Michel Temer tapped economist Maria Silvia Bastos to run BNDES and BNDESPar, replacing Luciano Coutinho, who was for years seen as a big supporter of the Batistas’ internationalization push for JBS.
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