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JBS to buy Australia’s Primo for $1.4B


Sao Paulo | Reuters — Brazil’s JBS SA, the world’s largest beef exporter, has agreed to buy Australian processed foods producer Primo Smallgoods for A$1.45 billion (C$1.41 billion).

The company will also buy food company Grupo Big Frango in Brazil for 430 million reais (C$192 million), stepping up the pace of acquisitions that have played a big part in its growth from a small family-run business into an international food company.

Primo Smallgoods is a leading producer of ham, sausage and bacon in Australia and New Zealand, with five producing units, seven distribution centers and 30 retail stores.

The purchase is in line with JBS’s strategy of increasing business in value-added products rather than just exporting meats, JBS CEO Wesley Batista said in a statement late Thursday.

“This is an excellent opportunity to grow our business in Australia, given the high rates of annual growth in the category of food products and the ability to increase sales of Primo Group via exports,” he said.

Buying Primo is also a “tremendous” opportunity to increase sales to Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and China, Batista added during a Friday conference call.

JBS expects to reap A$30 million in benefits from the deal, which is still subject to approval of Australian regulators.

JBS is also buying AMSE02 Participacoes, which controls Grupo Big Frango in southern Brazil. Big Frango slaughters 460,000 birds per day in two factories with annual sales of more than one billion reais.

In July, JBS’s U.S. poultry unit, Pilgrim’s Pride, acquired Tyson Foods’ poultry divisions in Mexico and Brazil.

The company — whose JBS USA unit also owns and operates the former XL Foods beef packing plant at Brooks, Alta.– on Friday also reported a five-fold increase in third-quarter net profit from a year earlier and expects net revenues to rise 22 per cent in 2014.

— Reporting for Reuters by Marcela Ayres and Caroline Stauffer.

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