OppenheimerFunds Sues Doux, Questions JBS Leasing DealLucia Kassai and Chris Dolmetsch
OppenheimerFunds Inc., the U.S. investment fund that manages about $208 billion, sued Doux SA in New York, claiming it’s owed almost $74 million by the French poultry producer placed under administration.
OppenheimerFunds, in a case against Doux in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, seeks $62.5 million in principal owed under a $100 million loan agreement in 2008, along with more than $11 million in interest.
OppenheimerFunds also started proceedings to gain ownership of a poultry plant in Brazil that serves as collateral for loans, said Fernando Ferreira, an attorney at Sao Paulo-based law firm Santos Neto Advogados, which represents the unit of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
“The Passo Fundo poultry plant in Brazil is a collateral for loans and Doux could never have leased the plant without our consent,” Ferreira said yesterday in a phone interview from Sao Paulo. “It’s a clear violation of our rights over the plant.”
In May 2012, Chateaulin, France-based Doux leased all of its Brazil plants, including the Passo Fundo unit, to JBS SA, the world’s largest poultry producer, for 10 years. OppenheimerFunds, based in New York, has never received any proceeds from the lease agreement, Ferreira said.
“The fact that JBS is partially owned indirectly by the Brazilian government further exacerbates OppenheimerFunds’ concern and frustration, as it is unclear to us whether the government has notice of and supports such questionable legal practices,” OppenheimerFunds said in an e-mailed statement in response to questions.
Doux was placed under court administration on June 1 after failing to pay debt estimated to be at least $550 million, Ferreira said.
Doux’s chief executive officer in Brazil, Aristides Vogt, and its legal counsel, Matheus Brenner, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the lawsuit filed June 6.
JBS agreed to lease the plants and isn’t taking on debt incurred by Doux, according to an official, who can’t be named because of company’s policy.
The case is Oppenheimer International Bond Fund v. Doux Frangosul SA Agro Avicola Industrial, 652015/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).