October 18, 2017 / 7:40 PM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Brazil antitrust watchdog blocks JBJ-Mataboi deal

(Adds comments from Mataboi)

By Bruno Federowski

BRASILIA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's antitrust watchdog Cade on Wednesday unanimously voted to block the purchase of meatpacker Mataboi Alimentos SA by JBJ Agropecuária Ltda, a further blow to the billionaire Batista family.

Mataboi, Brazil's No. 4 meatpacker by sales volume, said it would appeal the ruling.

JBJ is owned by José Batista Jr., whose brothers control the world's largest meatpacker, JBS SA, through holding company J&F Investimentos SA.

Batista Jr.'s family ties would allow JBJ to exchange valuable information with JBS and coordinate strategic decisions to stifle competition, the board of Cade said.

The board's decision aligns with an assessment by a Cade body in charge of investigating anti-trust cases, which in September warned of coordination risks despite the lack of formal ties between JBS and Mataboi.

Batista Jr. sold his shares in J&F to his brothers Joesley and Wesley in 2013. Two years later, JBJ agreed to purchase the entirety of Fratelli Dorazio Investimentos SA, as the owner of Mataboi was then known, for an undisclosed value.

In a statement, a press representative for Mataboi said the company disagrees with the Cade ruling.

"The company understands that the governance measures it has already adopted through the process are enough to secure the sustainable development of the (meatpacking) sector without affecting its operations," the statement said.

The decision is another setback to the Batista family's efforts to emerge stronger from a corruption scandal, five months after Joesley and Wesley admitted to bribing nearly 2,000 politicians. (Editing by Andrea Ricci and Lisa Shumaker)

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