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Brazil's JBS to sell $1.8 billion in assets after corruption settlement

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Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Global meatpacking leader JBS announced Tuesday it plans to sell six billion reais ($1.8 billion) in assets in an effort to build up its cash reserves following a major corruption settlement linked to a probe of Brazilian President Michel Temer.

JBS parent company J&F Investimentos agreed to pay a record fine of more than $3 billion after JBS owners admitted they had made illicit payments to politicians in exchange for favors for years.

"The divestment plan aims to reduce debt... to reinforce the company's financial structure," JBS said in a statement.

Under the plan, JBS will let go of 19.2 percent of its shares in dairy firm Vigor Alimentos SA, as well as its ownership interest in Northern Irish poultry meat producer Moy Park, US-based Five Rivers Cattle Feeding and several other farms.

Earlier this month, JBS had already announced separately that it was selling one billion reais ($302 million) of its operations in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The group's share prices dropped nearly three percent around 11:30 am (1430 GMT) after it announced its latest sell-off.

JBS chairman Joesley Batista caused major political uproar last month when he handed authorities an audio recording in which Temer appeared to condone the payment of hush money to a former lawmaker now in prison.

Batista clinched a plea bargain deal with authorities as the nationwide anti-graft operation codenamed "Car Wash" began targeting his business dealings.

Batista agreed to cooperate in exchange for avoiding a conviction.

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