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Shady Batista Brothers Rejoin JBS SA Board

May 1, 2024
Brazilian billionaires Joesley and Wesley Batista grew JBS from a small butcher shop to the largest meat processor in the world … then went to jail for financial shenanigans.

Brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista helped evolve JBS SA from a small Brazilian butcher shop to the largest meat processor in the world … then went to jail for financial shenanigans. After a six-year absence, they essentially voted themselves back onto the JBS SA board on April 26.

In a shareholder vote last week, the motion to return them to the board lost among general shareholders, nearly 248 million votes against to 142 million votes in favor. Then the brothers’ J&F Investimentos SA voted their billion shares and the brothers were reinstated.

The billionaire sons of founder Jose Batista Sobrinho (ergo the initials JBS), will take two newly created seats on the board. Independent directors would still be the majority on the board, accounting for seven of the 11 seats, Bloomberg News quoted the company as saying.

The same day as their election at the company’s annual meeting in Brazil, protestors from group Ban the Batistas demonstrated outside the New York Stock Exchange. JBS has been planning for years a listing on the NYSE, a plan that was most recently delayed in February but could still come up later this year.

When they led the company as chairman (Joesley) and CEO (Wesley), the brothers expanded JBS across the globe, first acquiring Swift & Co. in the U.S. in 2007, then the beef-business of Smithfield Foods a year later, then the U.S.’ largest chicken processor Pilgrim’s Pride in 2009. Those were followed by more acquisitions across the globe.

JBS SA is now a $71 billion protein powerhouse, $30 billion of that in the U.S. and Canada, and the U.S. operation was our 2023 Processor of the Year.

The Batista brothers left JBS in 2017 after confessing to bribery as part of a widespread corruption scandal in Brazil, which even implicated the country’s president. They spent several months in jail in 2017 and 2018 amid insider trading allegations before being acquitted last year, Bloomberg reported.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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