Brazil Soybean Producer Files for Bankruptcy as Debt Talks Fail

  • Closely held Bom Jesus owes about 2 billion reais to banks
  • Brazil farm companies hurt by cost of dollar-denominated debt

Grupo Bom Jesus, one of Brazil’s biggest soybean and corn producers, filed for bankruptcy after unsuccessful negotiations with lenders to restructure about 2 billion reais ($550 million) of bank debt.

The Rondonopolis, Mato Grosso-based company sought court protection after some creditors tried to seize its assets, Chief Executive Officer Nelson Vigolo said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

“We were hoping for an agreement until yesterday, but some creditors continued to attack our assets and block our payments," Vigolo said.

Bom Jesus is among Brazilian farming groups squeezed by the rising cost of servicing dollar-denominated debt after the depreciation of the real while also facing lower commodity prices and tighter credit conditions.

The filing was made Tuesday in the same court in Rondonopolis that, just a week earlier, had granted preliminary bankruptcy protection as Bom Jesus tried to reach an agreement with banks and suppliers. The closely held company’s total debt is about 3 billion reais, said Joel Thomaz Bastos, a partner at DCA Advogados, a law firm hired by Bom Jesus.

Bom Jesus plants soybean, corn and cotton on 250,000 hectares (618,000 acres) in Brazil’s Center-West region. It also sells seed and fertilizer to other producers in barter trades. The company’s debt increased in part because clients defaulted on payments to the trading unit, Vigolo said. About 90 percent of the company’s bank debt is dollar-denominated, he said.

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