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JBS mulls acquisitions and U.S. listing after strong second quarter, shares soar

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA will consider acquisitions to make the most of opportunities in export markets but only in geographies where it already operates to guarantee synergies among existing businesses.

In a conference call to comment on second quarter results on Thursday, Chief Executive Gilberto Tomazoni said the company would analyze acquisitions while still maintaining a “financial discipline” after about two years of working to reduce debt and the cost of capital.

The company, which operates in four continents, reported strong second quarter results on Wednesday, driven by demand in Asia, a recovery of margins at its Seara processed foods business in Brazil and the strength of its U.S. chicken and pork operations.

Shares rose by 10% at the start of the business day.

JBS, which generates 25% of revenue from export markets and has a strong footprint in the United States, is resuming plans for a listing in New York as a way to access cheaper financing and finance growth, Tomazoni said.

Plans to list shares in the United States were put aside on the heels of a corruption scandal involving its controlling shareholders in 2017.

“I am very optimistic with the future of the company. The industry cycle is positive and JBS is in its best moment in history,” Tomazoni said. “A listing in the U.S. will create a strong vehicle to boost growth.”

The recent acquisition of a pork processor in Brazil is a good example of a purchase that has synergies with existing business, Tomazoni said, adding any future purchase would have the same rationale.

As part of continued efforts to improve its debt profile, JBS vowed to use $300 million generated at its U.S. operations to pay down debt as part of an agreement with Brazilian banks.

That payment will be done in September, said Chief Financial Officer Guilherme Cavalcanti, and will help JBS free up collateral and access cheaper and larger credit lines.

Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Steve Orlofsky