Argentina - Meat packers nervous of government policy

06 May 2012

Argentina’s seizure of YPF SA (YPFD), the country’s largest oil company, is raising concern the European Union may retaliate against beef imports from Sao Paulo-based JBS SA (JBSS3) and Marfrig Alimentos SA (MRFG3) units operating in the country.


Argentina takeover of YPF, a unit of Spain’s Repsol YPF SA, are an “attack” on business and the EU should consider withdrawing tariff benefits, the European Parliament said April 20 in Strasbourg, France.


Potential reprisals include suspending Argentine duty-free beef exports to the EU under the so-called Hilton quota, said Caue Pinheiro, an analyst with SLW Corretora.


“It’s an important risk factor to watch,” Pinheiro, who has a hold rating on both JBS and Marfrig, said by telephone from Sao Paulo on April 20. “Depending on what comes out of it, it may delay JBS’s plans to return to a profit in Argentina.”


Argentina was awarded a 29,375 metric ton quota to export beef to the EU in the year through June 30, 2012, according to a March 23 resolution in the country’s official gazette.


JBS, the world’s biggest beef producer, and Marfrig account for about 5,760 tons of the quota, giving them the biggest share.


JBS and Marfrig didn’t return calls and e-mails from Bloomberg News seeking comment.


Argentina, the second largest per-capita consumer of beef after Uruguay, received about half of the EU’s 58,000-ton quota.

The Hilton Quota system was designed to help exporters from other nations compete after European agricultural subsidies were introduced in 1979.


JBS is “losing money” in Argentina, Chief Executive Officer Wesley Batista said March 22...








Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.

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