Company wants to allow more shareholders to vote on deal.

Bloomberg, Content provider

February 23, 2024

3 Min Read
Bloomberg

By Gerson Freitas Jr.

Brazil’s JBS SA says its planned listing in the US will likely be delayed into the second half of 2024 as the world’s largest meat producer works to allow more investors to vote on the move.

The Sao Paulo-traded company plans to file a new registration statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission after its earnings release on March 26, according to Chief Financial Officer Guilherme Cavalcanti. The move, which is aimed at allowing owners of JBS’s American depositary receipts to vote on the transaction, means it is “unlikely” that the food processor will have time to get the proposal approved by shareholders before the end of June. 

“We are not in a hurry because we have no need to raise capital,” Cavalcanti said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Florida. The delay in the process, which was initially expected to be concluded in 2023, will also give JBS the chance to showcase investors “better results each quarter,” he added.

The meat giant sees a New York listing as a key part of its strategy to use equity to fund a deeper expansion into the branded and processed-food business, which typically commands higher profit margins than its beef, pork and chicken processing operations. 

JBS also wants to access a broader pool of investors, get more analyst coverage, boost its reputation and be viewed more like a US company than a Brazilian one, reducing the valuation gap to main rival Tyson Foods Inc. The plan, which was announced in July, was well-received by investors, but has faced fierce opposition from activists and lawmakers over the company’s environmental footprint.

The company, with operations stretching from Colorado to New Zealand, needs every vote it can get to approve the listing. Its controlling shareholders, the billionaire Batista brothers, will abstain from voting, and Brazil’s National Development Bank, the second-largest shareholder, hasn’t disclosed if it supports the move. 

JBS says the listing request shouldn’t be affected by the campaign against it.

“I have confidence in all we are doing in terms of sustainability, to improve our supply chain, to boost visibility and transparency to what’s going on,” Chief Executive Officer Gilberto Tomazoni said in the same interview, adding that the American listing will increase US regulators’ scrutiny over the company. “We will create the conditions for the investors who really want to solve the problem.”

JBS remains optimistic on the prospect for its US beef business even as supplies of slaughter-weight cattle plunge to a seven-decade low, eroding meatpackers’ profits. Demand should continue to outpace supply, meaning persistently higher prices in the long term, Tomazoni said. 

“Beef is aspirational,” Tomazoni said. “The beef business will continue to grow.”

In the shorter term, JBS’s chicken and pork businesses are set to benefit from rising consumer demand and ampler grain supplies, which reduce the cost of feeding birds and hogs, said Wesley Batista Filho, CEO of JBS’s US unit.  

JBS executives were set to speak at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York’s annual conference, which is being held in Boca Raton, for the first time on Thursday. The move is part of the company’s efforts to become more broadly known by US investors ahead of the proposed US listing.   

After getting approval from the SEC, JBS would need at least 45 days to hold a shareholding meeting to vote on the listing proposal. 

JBS shares fell 0.7% as of 1:39 p.m. in Sao Paulo. The stock has lost about 12% this year. 

(Updates with details of vote in sixth paragraph)

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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