June 12, 2018 / 8:57 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Top shareholders of Brazil's BRF will not sell at current prices

(Adds Previ comments, background)

By Carolina Mandl and Paula Laier

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO, June 12 (Reuters) - Two pension funds that control 22 percent of Brazil’s BRF SA, the world’s largest poultry exporter, are not interested in selling their stakes at current prices, the funds’ chief executives said on Tuesday.

Previ CEO Gueitiro Genso said his fund, which manages pensions for employees of state-controlled lender Banco do Brasil SA, will not sell its stake in the near or medium term.

Walter Mendes, CEO of Petros, the fund for employees of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, also said it was unwilling to sell.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Rio de Janeiro, the executives said they were unaware of proposals from BRF’s rivals for a merger with the company.

Minerva SA last week denied speculation about such a merger, following reports that the meatpacker had contacted investors for funding.

BRF’s board will be responsible for the choice of a new CEO, the fund executives said. Guenso noted that current Chairman Pedro Parente, who quit his other job as Petrobras’ CEO days ago, would be a “great name.”

Brazilian police arrested BRF’s former in March on charges that he and other executives knew the company engaged in fraud to evade food safety checks.

BRF’s board named Parente as chairman in April to turn the company around after two years of net losses caused by a food safety scandal and mismanagement of feed inventory. The agreement on Parente’s appointment ended a long boardroom battle waged by shareholders with dissenting views on how to rescue BRF from its problems.

BRF shares have slumped 43 percent this year because of the food safety scandal, a huge truckers’ strike against high diesel prices that paralyzed the Brazilian economy in May and forced farms to cull some 70 million chickens due to a lack of feed.

Last week, BRF shares were hard hit by China’s decision to impose temporary anti-dumping measures on imports of Brazilian chicken meat.

On Tuesday, Credit Suisse analysts reduced the target price for BRF shares to 18 reais from 28 reais. BRF shares fell 3.2 percent in Sao Paulo to 20.82 reais.

In a report to clients, the analysts led by Victor Saragiotto said the new target price factors in the latest results, the spike in grain prices and the depreciation of Brazilian currency. (Writing by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Richard Chang)

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