JBS says trying to refinance debt after Seara acquisition

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Brazil's JBS SA, the world's biggest meat producer, said on Thursday it is in talks with several banks in Brazil to refinance debt taken on when it acquired Marfrig SA's local pork and poultry unit.

Banks involved in the talks include Banco do Brasil , Caixa Economica, Bradesco, Itau Unibanco and Santander Brasil, JBS's head of investor relations Jeremiah O'Callaghan said on the sidelines of an event in Sao Paulo.

JBS said on June 10 it had assumed $2.75 billion in debt to acquire Seara, Marfrig's processed foods brand.

JBS grew from a family-run butcher into the world's largest beef producer through an aggressive takeover strategy and could reach the top of the poultry industry with the Seara deal.

While both JBS and Marfrig borrowed heavily to finance a string of acquisitions, the latter has faced more difficulty in reducing its debt load, which currently stands at $6.1 billion.

State development bank BNDES had been providing cheap credit to buyers in a government effort to create "national champions" to compete on a global scale, a policy that the bank said in April it was ending.

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