Vale SA’s assets purchased by Brazil’s Batista brothers
Billionaire brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista of Brazil, who are worth an estimated $7.7 billion as the owners of the world’s largest meat supplier, emerged as the surprise buyer of some of Vale SA’s operations in Brazil.
Bloomberg reported that according to regulatory filings, the Batista family will purchase assets that include manganese and iron-ore mines, as well as logistics operations, worth a total of $1.2 billion including debt.
J&F and Vale declined to comment beyond the filings.
The familiers other investments include financial technology, pulp and even cosmetics and television. This transaction, which still needs regulatory approval, would mark their first big-ticket investment in mining.
The majority of the Batista’s wealth comes from their controlling stake in JBS, an $18 billion meat giant that operates in about 20 countries and controls a quarter of U.S. beef processing.
With the Vale assets, the brothers are betting on a sector that’s fueled some of the largest fortunes in Latin America, having greatly benefited from soaring metal prices spurred by the pandemic economic rebound and, more recently, supply disruptions from the war in Ukraine. Those fortunes include Chile’s Luksic family, which controls a major copper producer, and the Ermirio de Moraes family that owns an aluminum maker.
The Batistas would also inherit a logistical network that could be used with their other businesses.
Still, their push into mining lands them in another sector that’s been at the forefront of environmental and social concerns, namely two disastrous collapses at tailings dams owned by Vale.
The brothers, who have featured in headline-grabbing political scandals in the past, are already taking heat from investors and activists for the role big beef has played in deforestation.
For Vale, the sale is another step in a years-long divestment strategy.
Last December, the company exited its Mozambique coal business. Before that, it sold a troubled New Caledonia nickel mine and manganese assets in southeastern Brazil, cashed in $1.3 billion for its shares in Mosaic Co. and concluded the sale of a 50 percent stake in California Steel Industries Inc. to Nucor Corp. for $400 million. Vale has also been talking about selling a 40% stake in bauxite producer MRN.