NORTHERN IRELAND, Craigavon. One of Northern Ireland's largest firms, Moy Park, has been put up for sale by owner JBS, as concerns mounted over funding options in the wake of Brazil's political corruption scandal.
Moy Park, one of Europe's biggest poultry producers, employs more than 9,000 people in Northern Ireland and is headquartered in Craigavon, County Armagh. It was bought by JBS in 2015 for $1.5 bn., in what was Northern Ireland's biggest ever food deal.
However, Moy Park was among the assets named in JBS's divestment programme released on Tuesday, together with the Brazilian meatpacker's stake in US-based Five Rivers Cattle Feeding assets and farms and Brazilian firm Vigor Alimentos. This is on top of the $300 mill. subsidiary sales that JBS announced earlier this month, in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
JBS said it was selling the assets in order to raise around 6 bn. Brazilian reais, which should help it both cut debt and reduce leverage.
The revelations surrounding its largest shareholder have caused shares in JBS to slide, down 45% in the year to date, amid concerns over its funding options. Shares dropped 2.8% to 6.17 reais yesterday.
Moy Park, speaking about the sale, said its priority was "business as usual", with its focus on meeting consumer demand in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.
The divestment programme is subject to approval by JBS's board members.