Copec's Eldorado bid faces three rival offers, sources say

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Chilean pulpmaker Empresas Copec SA’s bid to buy rival Eldorado Brasil Celulose SA, which collapsed early on Friday because of price disagreements, faces three competing offers, two people with direct knowledge of the situation said.

Following Thursday’s end of exclusive talks with Copec unit Arauco, Eldorado parent J&F Investimentos SA has opened a new bidding process for the company, said the sources. Proposals by Indonesia’s Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Ltd, Brazil’s Fibria SA and an unidentified Asian firm have been submitted, they added.

Fibria, the world’s No. 1 eucalyptus pulp producer, sees potentially significant cost savings from an acquisition but could face tough antitrust scrutiny in Brazil, one of the people said. Copec’s Arauco would have to join a new competitive bidding to buy the Eldorado, the other source added.

The sources requested anonymity to discuss the matter freely.

Reuters reported earlier on Friday that talks between Copec’s Arauco and Eldorado collapsed because the two sides failed to agree on a price. Copec failed to cut Eldorado’s price tag, the people said.

Eldorado’s enterprise value, which includes cash, market capitalization, debt and minority interests, is slightly above 10 billion reais ($3.2 billion), the sources told Reuters on Friday. Eldorado’s debt hovers around 8 billion reais, and J&F’s lenders are pressing for a sale, the sources said in May.

Arauco declined to comment. The other companies did not have an immediate comment.

Buying Eldorado could allow either foreign bidder apart from Fibria to expand in Brazil, where lawmakers have discussed easing sales of land to foreign investors. Land in Brazil offers global pulpmakers advantages, such as more-productive soil than Scandinavia and Chile.

Shares of Santiago-based Copec posted their highest gain in three months, adding 2.4 percent at 7,980 Chilean pesos. Fibria rose 2.4 percent to 34.58 reais.

Brazil’s billionaire Batista family controls 81 percent of Eldorado through J&F, with the two pension funds owning the rest. J&F controls the Batistas’ stake in meatpacking giant JBS SA and companies in the home cleaning, banking and energy industries.

Eldorado is among the flagship assets J&F put up for sale after agreeing to pay a record-setting 10.3 billion-real fine for the Batista family’s role in corruption scandals that have hurt President Michel Temer’s administration.

Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Tatiana Bautzer; Additional reporting by Antonio de la Jara in Santiago; Editing by Richard Chang