Brazilian retailer Havan, owned by Bolsonaro backer, pulls IPO

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian department store chain Havan SA, whose founder is being investigated as part of probes into disinformation campaigns, has ended plans for an initial public offering, the company said in a filing on Tuesday.

The company had not disclosed the offering size, but sources said a 5 billion reais ($906 million) portion of the offering would go to further expanding the chain of 149 stores, recognizable for the Statue of Liberty replicas that adorn them across Brazil.

The move is a setback for the company’s founder, Luciano Hang, who was also due to sell an undisclosed amount of shares. Hang, who usually dresses in the green and yellow of Brazil’s national flag, is a vocal supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro.

In the last few weeks, Brazilian media have reported that Hang was having difficulties with the planned IPO on Brazil’s B3 stock exchange, because investors did not share his valuation of the company at around 100 billion reais ($17.78 billion).

The IPO may also be another victim of the coronavirus outbreak. Just in October, eight Brazilian firms have shelved share offering plans due to economic uncertainty stemming from the pandemic.

Hang is currently a target in two probes into the alleged dissemination and financing of disinformation against Brazil’s Supreme Court. The investigation, which is under judicial seal, started in 2019.

Earlier this year, Hang said in a Facebook post that he has never attacked or sent out fake news against the Supreme Court.

Hang is also under investigations for potential dissemination of false information amid the presidential elections of 2018.

Reporting by Aluisio Alves; writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Alexandra Hudson