August 1, 2017 / 9:57 PM / 2 years ago

Mexico's Lala could seal Vigor purchase on Thursday

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The board of Mexican dairy producer Grupo Lala SAB de CV will decide on Aug. 3 on a bid to buy control of Vigor Alimentos SA, after a commitment to acquire the Brazilian producer of yoghurt and fresh cheese was reached earlier on Tuesday.

Lala (LALAB.MX) said in a statement that a proposal to acquire Vigor from investment holding company J&F Investimentos SA, including a borrowing plan and a potential share offering, would be submitted for discussion at the board.

São Paulo-based J&F and Vigor did not have an immediate comment. Reuters reported on Monday that Lala’s bid valued Vigor at 5.7 billion reais ($1.8 billion). JBS SA, the world’s largest meatpacker which is controlled by J&F, acknowledged in a securities filing that it was in advanced talks to exit its stake in Vigor.

Lala aims to acquire 100 percent of Vigor and a 50 percent stake Vigor owns in subsidiary Itambé Alimentos SA, according to the statement. The rest of Itambé is owned by a cooperative that is not selling its stake.

Lala’s bid was the highest among a group of strategic investors interested in Vigor. Reuters first reported on June 13 the groups vying for Vigor, which included France’s Groupe Lactalis SA and Danone SA.

Vigor, founded a century ago, has 7,600 employees and 14 plants in Brazil. If the board approves the deal, Lala will hold a conference call with investors on Friday, the statement said.

Vigor is J&F’s second divestiture since it was slammed a record-setting leniency fine related to a massive corruption scandal in Brazil. J&F is the holding company overseeing the fortune of Brazil’s billionaire Batista family, including the stake in JBS.

On July 12, J&F concluded the sale of flip-flop maker Alpargatas SA (ALPA4.SA) to the investment firm of Brazil’s most prominent banking families for 3.5 billion reais.

Proceeds from the sale will help not only J&F to pay its debts and part of the 10.3 billion-real fine, but also reinforce JBS coffers. JBS owns 19.4 percent of Vigor, with J&F holding the remaining stake.

Shares of JBS were unchanged at 7.70 reais on Tuesday. Lala’s stock shed 1.2 percent to 34.690 Mexican pesos.

Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Grant McCool and Andrew Hay

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