Rossi in Talks to Sell Stake in Unit to Private Equity

Rossi Residencial SA, Brazil’s most-indebted major homebuilder, is in talks with private-equity funds to sell a minority stake in its Rossi Urbanizadora unit, Chief Executive Officer Leonardo Diniz said.

The subsidiary, which builds gated communities, has a land portfolio valued at 6.8 billion reais ($3.4 billion) and expects to generate 1.8 billion reais in profit over the next 8 to 10 years, Diniz said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s Sao Paulo office. The shares rallied after he spoke.

The stake sale is part of a plan to reduce net debt that totaled 123 percent of shareholder equity in 2012 to as low as 85 percent by year-end, Diniz said. He didn’t identify any suitors or elaborate on the status of the discussions, beyond saying that the funds were in Brazil and abroad. Sao Paulo-based Rossi created the unit in August as it focuses more on middle-and high-income home buyers.

“This year we expect to generate profits,” Diniz said. “Over the next few years, we have a projection that we will improve the return on equity, and net and gross margins.”

Rossi’s promise to reduce its net debt to shareholder equity ratio will require cash generation of about 600 million reais, according to an estimate by a Credit Suisse AG analyst team led by Guilherme Rocha. The builder’s shareholders include the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.’s Reco Aster, which took a stake of about 6 percent in December.

2013 Goals

Rossi projects completing 18,000 home and apartment units this year, Diniz said. Most of the company’s sales are now apartments costing 200,000 reais to 1 million reais.

The shares rose 1.2 percent to 3.31 reais at the close in Sao Paulo, after climbing as much as 3.4 percent and reversing an earlier decline. Rossi tumbled 28 percent this year through yesterday, almost three times the 9.8 percent drop in Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa index.

Rossi is carrying debts of 4.5 billion reais, of which 1.5 billion reais is due in the short term, Chief Financial Officer Rodrigo Medeiros said. The company posted a loss of 206 million reais in its last fiscal year. Rossi’s debt-to-equity ratio of 123 percent is the most among Brazil’s 10-biggest homebuilders by market value.

Rossi also hopes to sell about 100 million reais of land in regions of Brazil where it’s ending operations, Diniz said.

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