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JBS returns to takeover trail with poultry deal

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Brazilian meat giant JBS, fresh from defeat in the auction for US-based Hillshire Brands, returned to its homeland to take a baby step back on the acquisition trail, purchasing assets from Céu Azul Alimentos to extend its reach into the poultry sector.

JBS, the world's biggest meatpacker, said it had paid Céu Azul Alimentos R$246.0m ($111m) for two poultry processing plants, incorporating feed mills and incubators, in the state of Sao Paulo, with capacity for 330,000 birds a day.

The takeover brings JBS – for which acquisition has been a mainstay of its growth from a butchery in Anapolis in Goias state – a successful deal a month after it withdrew from the race to buy Hillshire Brands, the rump of Sara Lee Corp, leaving rival Tyson Foods clear to seal the deal for $8.55bn.

And it extends JBS's reach into the domestic chicken market which it entered in earnest two years ago, with the R$5.85bn purchase of the Seara pork and poultry assets from Brazilian competitor Marfrig.

'Important step'

Indeed, the Céu Azul Alimentos assets are being purchased through the Seara business, around which JBS formed its JBS Foods division in October 2013.

"This acquisition represents an important step under JBS Foods' strategy to increase its presence in the principal international markets, in addition to strengthening its position in Brazil's largest consumer centre," JBS said.

Besides its processing assets, the deal also comes with licences to export to some major import markets, JBS said, without specifying which.

JBS Foods in the first three months of 2014 achieved earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of R$379.8m, a rise of 13.7%, on revenues of R$2.78bn, offering the best margins of any of JBS's five divisions.

JBS, while having its history in beef, also owns US chicken group Pilgrim's Pride.


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