Court lifts JBS asset freeze

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

JBS will now proceed with its $300 asset sale to Brazilian rival Minerva
JBS will now proceed with its $300 asset sale to Brazilian rival Minerva

Related tags Brazil Jbs Beef Poultry

JBS has had its ban on the sale of assets to rival Minerva lifted by a Brazilian court, as the world’s largest meatpacker copes with the fallout from a corruption scandal. 

JBS was told by a Brazilian federal appeals court that a ban on the sale of its assets in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay to Minerva had been overruled. It clears the way for a $300m deal that had looked in jeopardy and will mark the meat giant’s exit from the three South American countries.

Not only did the overruling clear the way for the Minerva deal, it also authorised JBS to buy and sell any other assets too.

Meanwhile, JBS was told by antitrust authorities on 6 July that the $300m sale to Minerva would be able to go through, subject to court approval, without any restrictions.

JBS appeal

A deadline for JBS rival Minerva to take over the assets in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay​ has not been set. Approval from competition watchdogs, coupled with the lifting of the asset freeze, marks a swift turnaround for JBS as it tried to sell its assets.

Less than a month ago, on 19 June, a federal judge blocked JBS’ attempt to offload some of its South American assets​, fearing the sale could interfere with an investigation into corruption allegations.

In response to the asset freeze, JBS announced plans to appeal the decision and said it would take “necessary legal measures​” to overturn the ruling with the meatpacker determined to downsize its operations following a tumultuous 2017.

The challenging year started in March 2017 with the rotten meat scandal​ that implicated Brazil’s biggest meat processors, JBS and BRF, among others. But allegations of corruption and collusion in Brazil’s meat supply chain was just the start of a testing few months for the JBS hierarchy.

In May, seven senior JBS executives entered a plea bargain​ with the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office to name the politicians that may have accepted bribes from the meatpacker. In return, the executives were fined R$225m ($70m) as part of a leniency deal.

In the same month, the holding company of JBS, J&F Investimentos, was fined R$10.3bn ($3.1bn), which will be paid over 25 years.

The business has hired a new chairman, Tarek Farahat​, who has restructured the management team putting good governance practices at the heart of JBS.

Former chairman Joesley Batista has resigned.

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