By Tatiana Bautzer and Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s most prominent banking clans could pay between 3.3 billion reais and 3.5 billion reais ($1 billion and $1.1 billion) for a majority stake in Havaianas flip flop maker Alpargatas SA, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Proceeds from a sale of Alpargatas, whose shares are up sharply this year, could help pay down the heavy debt load of the owners, who are also involved in a corruption scandal.
Cambuhy Investimentos Ltda and Itaúsa Investimentos SA <ITSA4.SA> are working to iron out terms of a deal by as early as next week, when exclusivity talks expire with Alpargatas’ controlling shareholder J&F Investimentos SA, the first person said.
Itaúsa oversees the fortune of Brazil’s Villela and Setubal families, who control São Paulo-based Itaú Unibanco Holding SA <ITUB4.SA>, Latin America’s largest bank by assets. Cambuhy is the family office of Brazil’s billionaire Moreira Salles family, also a major Itaú shareholder.
J&F, which owns 86 percent of Alpargatas and oversees the fortune of the billionaire Batista family, must raise cash to pay a 10.3 billion real leniency fine and refinance looming loan maturities, the people said. J&F’s owners Joesley and Wesley Batista signed a leniency deal in May after admitting to bribing almost 1,900 politicians.
Common shares of São Paulo-based Alpargatas <ALPA3.SA> are up 63 percent this year. The company’s Havaianas flip flops, created in 1962 during Brazil’s Bossa-Nova musical movement, are worn globally by celebrities from Blake Lively to Jennifer Aniston.
Alpargatas, which also manages a wide array of Brazilian fashion brands including beachwear brand Osklen, is the first of J&F’s assets lined up for sale in the wake of the Batista family’s involvement in Brazil’s worst-ever corruption scandal. Reuters reported the Cambuhy-led bid on June 16, which the companies confirmed a week later.
Proceeds from sale of J&F’s stake in Alpargatas will go to repay a 2.7 billion-real acquisition financing loan the Batistas took with state-controlled lender Caixa Econômica Federal, the first person said. The loan is under investigation by Brazil’s audit court TCU for potential irregularities.
J&F, Cambuhy and Itaúsa declined to comment. The people asked not to be identified because talks remain private.
PRESSURE FROM CREDITORS
The pace of talks between J&F and the Cambuhy-Itaúsa group gained steam in recent days. Creditors have been pressuring the Batistas to renegotiate more than 30 billion reais of debt at J&F and JBS SA <JBSS3.SA>, the world’s No. 1 meatpacker, which the brothers also control.
If the bid for Alpargatas succeeds, Cambuhy and Itaúsa will split equally the Batistas’ stake, both companies said on June 26.
The Batistas acquired Alpargatas in December 2015 from construction conglomerate Camargo Correa SA [PMORRC.UL], which was ensnared in the same scandal.
J&F’s controlling stakes in dairy producer Fábrica de Produtos Alimentícios Vigor SA and pulpmaker Eldorado Brasil Celulose SA are also on the block and their sale processes advancing, the people said.
The sale of Alpargatas, Vigor and Eldorado could raise 10 billion reais and cut J&F debts by another 10 billion reais, one of the people said. Joesley, the youngest of the Batista siblings and a central figure in the family’s leniency deal, is conducting talks to sell Alpargatas himself, the people added.
($1 = 3.2854 reais)
(Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and David Gregorio)