Belfast Telegraph

US court to examine £1bn acquisition of Northern Ireland's Moy Park

Moy Park owned by US food giant Pilgrim's Pride, is Northern Ireland's biggest private sector employer
Moy Park owned by US food giant Pilgrim's Pride, is Northern Ireland's biggest private sector employer

A US court is to examine the purchase of one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers, Moy Park, US media has reported.

The firm was bought over by the Pilgrim's Pride Corporation in September 2017, a subsidiary of the then owners, Brazil-based JBS SA - one of the largest meat producers in the world.

A report in The Washington Post says stockholders are now challenging the deal.

Shareholders are taking the challenge to see if the purchase was fair. They claim JBS needed to raise cash quickly. The sale came after JBS's controlling shareholder J&F Investimentos agreed to pay the world's largest 'leniency fine' to settle its role in a Brazilian corruption scandal. That fine amounted to more than £2.4bn.

Food industry news organisation Just Food reports "minority stockholders" of Pilgrims are behind the lawsuit. JBS is said to have a 78.5% stake in the firm.

At the time of the purchase in September 2017 Pilgrim’s Pride said it was approved by an independent committee that “had been granted full authority” over all aspects of the transaction. JBS said a special committee was appointed to oversee the purchase by three directors "unaffiliated" to it.

No date has been set for the trial.

Based in Craigavon, Co Armagh, Moy Park employs 6,300 people in Northern Ireland and 12,000 more at operations in the Republic and elsewhere in Europe. The business is a huge buyer of poultry on both sides of the border.

Founded in 1943 it was bought by JBS from Marfig for £1.2bn in 2015.

Janet McCollum chief executive of Moy Park at the time of the 2017 change in ownership to The Pilgrims Corporation described the deal as "positive".

Last year it was reported the company had a record turnover of £1.5bn with pretax profits of £64milion.

Moy Park has been approached for comment.

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