Meat and poultry processor JBS is considering filing a defamation lawsuit against U.S. investment firm OppenheimerFunds, claiming the firm has spread false information about JBS' dealings with a subsidiary owned by French poultry producer Groupe Doux. The Brazil-based JBS issued a statement about the potential lawsuit on August 23.
JBS alleges OppenheimerFunds repeatedly tried to misrepresent JBS' rental of Doux's assets as an acquisition of subsidiary Doux Frangosul. Doux has about $60 million worth of debt it owes OppenheimerFunds, according to the Financial Times.
"As clearly disclosed to the market, JBS did not acquire the assets of Doux Frangosul. The company only rented the facilities in question. If these facilities were left idle, they would have eventually been handed over to creditors in a lengthy legal process. JBS, by keeping the plants operational, has prevented the loss of thousands of jobs and the resultant negative economic impact to local communities," the company said in a statement.
Groupe Doux closed much of its Brazilian poultry operations in 2012. In May 2012, JBS agreed to lease Doux Frangosul's Brazilian facilities to increase JBS' poultry production.
In its statement, JBS asserted that it has not made any moves toward acquiring Doux Frangosul, and the business relationship between the two entities should in no way interfere with OppeneimerFunds' efforts to collect debt from Groupe Doux.
"The rental of the Doux Frangosul plants by JBS does not preclude or jeopardize any course of legal action by Oppenheimer to protect its rights," JBS said. "Any attempt on the part of Oppenheimer to hold JBS responsible for debts assumed by Doux Frangosul is evidence of a profound lack of knowledge of the basic principles of the legal system."