Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brazilian company to buy No. 4 US beef processor

March 5, 2008

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— National Beef Packing Co., the nation's fourth-largest beef processor, said late Tuesday it is being acquired by Brazilian giant JBS S.A. in a cash and stock deal worth $560 million.

The Kansas City-based company said JBS, the world's largest beef processor, will pay National Beef members about $465 million in cash and $95 million JBS common shares. The deal, which still requires regulatory approval, also includes JBS assuming an unreleased amount of National Beef's debt.

This is the second major U.S. purchase in the past year by JBS. In July, the company acquired Greeley, Colo.-based Swift Foods Co. for $225 million in cash.

Tim Klein, National Beef's president, will become president and chief operating officer of the joint National Beef/JBS-Swift beef operations, the company said.

"Being able to diversify through JBS will put our company in a position to compete long term in an increasingly competitive environment," said Steve Hunt, chief executive officer of U.S. Premium Beef, the majority owner of National Beef. "Our producer owners and other producers who market cattle through USPB will now have a more geographically diversified company with multiple locations to deliver the high-quality cattle they produce for our value-added programs."

Wesley Batista, CEO of JBS USA Inc., said National Beef would give the company greater access to North America and the Pacific Rim.

National Beef is based in Kansas City, Mo., and has operations in Liberal, Dodge City and Kansas City, Kan.; as well as Brawley, Calif.; Hummels Wharf, Penn.; and Moultrie, Ga. The company had $5.6 billion in sales last year and processed nearly 4 million head of cattle.

JBS had $11.9 billion in revenue in 2007 with operations in Brazil, Argentina, the U.S. and Australia.

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