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JBS's Moy Park purchase 'may herald more EU deals'

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JBS, the acquisitive meat giant which has sealed takeovers from the US to Australia, signalled that the $1.5bn purchase of UK poultry group Moy Park could prove a springboard for further deals in Europe too.

Wesley Batista, chief executive at the Brazilian-based group, when asked over JBS's aspirations for acquisitions in Europe, said that it was "too early to be looking to other opportunities in Europe", with the purchase of Moy Park yet to be completed.

However, Moy Park, which employs 11,800 people in operations spread over the UK, Ireland, France and the Netherlands, "definitely will be for us a platform for further expansion in [the] European market going forward", he told investors.

"We don't have any other thing short-term in mind," he added, with JBS for now to focus on integrating Moy Park, the group's first sizeable acquisition in Europe.

Moy Park will report as a separate business unit in JBS results, rather than being integrated into a subsidiary such as the US arm or JBS Foods.

Cost savings

The comments came as JBS revealed that it was expecting deal benefits of $50m from the acquisition, to be gained from factors such as exploiting the meat giant's muscle in purchasing the likes of packaging and logistical services.

Jeremiah O'Callaghan, JBS investor relations officer, also flagged the "synergies associated with the acquisition of feed ingredients, particularly grain", required to feed Moy Park poultry.

"We are one of the largest purchasers of corn and soybean meal for the production of meat products."

Deal benefits would be gained largely from lifting Moy Park's margins from 7.5% to some 10%.

'Correct moment'

JBS added that it was the "correct moment to enter the European market in a relevant manner", realising a long-held ambition.

Mr Batista said: "The European economy is recovering, especially in the UK," where Moy Park takes 79% of its revenues.

"We have been thinking about Europe. We have been putting quite a fair amount of thought about Europe, when was going to be the right time for us to get into Europe.

"We saw this great opportunity to get into the European market."

"We have been seen all the opportunity in Europe before, but was not the right opportunity, the right size."

Market reaction

The synergy guidance of $50m from the deal was termed by Itau BBA analysts as "higher than we expected".

Factoring in the deal benefits, the cost of Moy Park would come down to 6.5 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda).

The bank restated a rating of "outperform" on JBS shares, with a price target of R$19.00.

The shares stood at R$16.17 in afternoon deals in Sao Paulo, down 2.9% on the day.

By Agrimoney.com

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