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MEAT & SEAFOOD

Marfrig acquires 51% of membership interests in National Beef Packing Co
Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
São Paulo
Marfrig Global Foods, one of the world’s largest animal protein producers, has reached an agreement for the acquisition of 51 per cent of the membership interests in National Beef Packing Company, LLC, the fourth-largest beef processor in the United States.

Marfrig has agreed to pay $969 million for the equity interest and, once the transaction is concluded, it will become the world’s second-largest beef processor, with consolidated sales of R$43 billion ($13 billion).

Founded in 1992, National Beef reported sales of $7.3 billion (R$24.3 billion) in 2017, and, since 2011, has been controlled by Leucadia National Corporation, which currently holds a 79 per cent interest.

The company has a slaughtering capacity of 12,000 heads of cattle per day and is headquartered in Kansas City. It has two slaughterhouses located in Dodge City and Liberal, Kansas, and accounts for approximately 13 per cent of the total US cattle slaughtering capacity.

National Beef is one of the most profitable beef companies in the United States. Once the transaction closes, Leucadia will transfer control to Marfrig and remain a minority shareholder in National Beef, with a 31 per cent interest. The US Premium Beef, an association of American producers, will hold 15 per cent, and other shareholders will hold the remaining three per cent.

Leucadia and the other investors have agreed not to sell their shares in National Beef for at least five years.

The transaction imputes an enterprise value to National Beef of $2.3 billion, including debt, which results in an enterprise value/last twelve months’ earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EV/LTM EBITDA) multiple of 4.4 times.

With the acquisition of National Beef, Marfrig achieves two key objectives outlined in its strategic plan.

Firstly, it consolidates its strong position in the beef industry, which is Marfrig’s original core business. A leader in the US beef industry, National Beef exports to 40 countries, including Japan, which is a market currently closed to beef exports from Brazil.

In 2017, Marfrig reported adjusted EBITDA of R$1.7 billion ($516 billion). With National Beef, its pro-forma EBITDA will increase to R$3.4 billion ($1 billion).

“The acquisition of National Beef represents the realisation of a unique opportunity,” said Martín Secco, chief executive officer, Marfrig.

“With the transaction, we will have operations in the world’s two largest beef markets, will gain access to extremely sophisticated consumer countries and will be able to grow while maintaining rigorous financial discipline,” he added.

The second key objective the transaction achieves is improving Marfrig’s leverage ratio. Upon closing, Marfrig will consolidate 100% of the results of National Beef.

Last year, Marfrig’s total debt corresponded to 4.55 times its EBITDA. With the acquisition, this ratio decreases to 3.35 times. The transaction will be financed by a loan from Rabobank.

Other measures to deleverage Marfrig are in place, including the decision of selling Keystone Foods, a leading supplier of high-quality, value-added food products to the world’s leading foodservice, retail and convenience, and industrial brands.

This sale, together with the National Beef transaction, should help Marfrig to achieve its goal of reaching a leverage ratio of 2.5 times by the end of 2018.

“The acquisition of National Beef reflects our sustainable growth strategy,” said Marcos Molina, chairman, board of directors, Marfrig Global Foods.

“From now on, we have become the Brazilian company of the sector with the best financial health, proved into the lowest rates of leverage,” he added.

The key executives of National Beef, including its chief executive officer, Tim Klein, will continue to remain at and manage the company.

The Board of Managers of National Beef will consist of nine members, of which five will be nominated by Marfrig, two by Leucadia and two by the other minority members.

“We are pleased to remain a significant shareholder in National Beef and to partner with Marfrig and the company’s management team in its continued development,” said Rich Handler, chief executive officer, Leucadia, and Brian Friedman, president, Leucadia.

Rabo Securities USA acted as Marfrig’s financial advisor in the acquisition transaction of the National Beef stock control. Linklaters LLP acted as international counsel and Lefosse Advogados acted as Brazilian counsel to Marfrig.
 
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