JBS bonds near historic lows after chairman charged violating loan laws

JBS bonds near historic lows after chairman charged

By Paul Kilby, Reuters January 27, 2016 | 4:52 pm EST

Bonds issued by Brazilian meat producer JBS were scraping historic lows on Wednesday following news that prosecutors had charged its chairman with crimes against the financial system.

Prices on the JBS SA 7.25% 2024s were being quoted at around 81.00 cents on the dollar, an all-time low and close to a seven point drop since Monday.

Bonds issued by the company’s US entity were also breaking support levels, with its 7.25% June 2021s quoted at 91.05, near lows reached in June 2012, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Allegations that controlling shareholder J&F Investimentos violated loan laws have unnerved investors already concerned about widening corruption investigations that have led to the arrest of some of Brazil’s top executives.

J&F said neither JBS nor any of its executives were named in the lawsuit, according to Reuters News. J&F said those charged were confident they would prove their innocence.

"This always triggers concerns and makes it more difficult for companies to fund themselves in the local and international markets," said a Sao Paulo-based banker.

"(But) JBS is very diversified in terms of funding, so I don’t see any liquidity concerns."

Neither JBS SA nor JBS USA faces any significant maturity humps in the bond market until 2020, when about US$1.7bn in securities mature, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The company has expanded rapidly over the last few years through a series of acquisitions to become the world’s largest meat producer, partly with the help of cheap credit from state-owned banks as government sought to create national champions.

It has also been an active issuer in the international capital markets, targeting both EM and US high-yield accounts through its US and Brazilian entities.

Over the last five years, it has raised over US$6bn in the bond markets, while also recently securing loans to pay for the US$1.45bn acquisition of Cargill’s pork assets.

Just last year, Fitch upgraded JBS to BB+ from BB, citing geographic diversification and successful integration of recently acquired businesses.

JBS is seen as being less vulnerable to reputation risks associated with Brazil’s corruption scandals, which are unlikely to stop people from buying the company’s products.

"No one will stop buying beef," said another banker. "It will impact their business less than, say, Odebrecht and other companies, where their businesses rely on reputational issues."