December 18, 2018 / 2:41 PM / 8 months ago

On heels of J&F deal, Brazil's Taesa to bid for new licenses

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s Transmissora Aliança de Energia Elétrica SA (TAEE11.SA) is interested in bidding for new licenses to operate transmission lines in the country, even after announcing a $348 million deal including debt this week, Chief Executive Officer Raul Lycurgo Leite said on Tuesday.

Taesa, as the company is known, bought transmission lines owned by Ambar Energia, a subsidiary of J&F Investimentos SA, the holding company controlled by the Batista family, which also owns meatpacker JBS SA (JBSS3.SA).

Taesa will pay $242 million to J&F and assume 414 million reais ($106 million) in debt, executives said. “The deal does not affect our interest in bidding for new licenses. We will participate in the auction”, Leite told Reuters on Tuesday, referring to an auction scheduled for Dec. 20.

Taesa, which is controlled by state-owned Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais (CMIG4.SA), known as Cemig, and Colombia’s ISA.

J&F had been negotiating the sale of the transmission lines for more than a year. Reuters reported that Taesa had eyed the asset since February after exclusive talks with Brookfield Asset Management Inc (BAMa.TO) collapsed.

Since Joesley and Wesley Batista were ensnared in Brazil’s largest ever corruption probe, their holding company J&F Investimentos has sold control of apparel and shoemaker Alpargatas SA (ALPA4.SA), dairy producer Vigor Alimentos SA and pulp maker Eldorado Brasil Celulose SA.

Leite added that the deal closing is subject to conditions that assure Taesa will not be liable for corruption charges related to J&F Investimentos, and depends on final approval of the plea deal by the Batista brothers with Brazilian prosecutors. The deal is also subject to approval by Brazilian antitrust watchdog Cade.

Chief Financial Officer Marcos Aucelio said Taesa plans to issue 850 million reais in local bonds in the first quarter of next year to pay for the transaction.

Reporting by Luciano Costa and Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Jason Neely and Jeffrey Benkoe

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