BRAZIL (From news reports) -- Fibria SA and two other pulp producers have hired banks to bid for rival Eldorado Brasil Celulose SA, which may go on the block after the family that controls it entered a plea deal in Brazil, Valor Econômico newspaper reported on Tuesday.
According to Valor, which did not specify how it got the information, a subsidiary of Chile's Empresas Copec SA known as Arauco has hired Banco Santander SA to work on a proposal. Morgan Stanley & Co is advising Fibria, the world's No. 1 eucalyptus pulpmaker, Valor added.
Another potential contender is Suzano Papel & Celulose SA , which is said to have hired two unidentified large Brazilian investment banks to analyze a bid, Valor said. Two bankers told Valor under condition of anonymity that Eldorado's equity could be worth between 3 billion reais and 4 billion reais ($904 million and $1.2 billion).
With debt hovering at 8 billion reais, Eldorado could soon be put up for sale after two key members of Brazil's Batista family were ensnared in a corruption scandal, sources have told Reuters in recent weeks. Eldorado lenders are pressing for a sale of the company, Valor noted.
J&F Investimentos SA, the company overseeing the business of the Batistas, has 81 percent of Eldorado. The remaining 19 percent is owned by Brazilian pension funds, Petros Fundação and Funcef Fundação dos Economiarios, and special purpose vehicle FIP Olímpia.
São Paulo-based J&F and Suzano declined to comment on the Valor report. Fibria and the banks did not have an immediate comment. The media office of Santiago-based Copec did not answer early calls seeking comment.
Last October, J&F started talks to buy out the stakes that both Petros and Funcef have in Eldorado.
Both Joesley and Wesley Batista, the family members that last month entered the plea deal with Brazilian prosecutors, want to speak to bidders of Eldorado first before hiring an advisor for a sale, Valor said, citing banking executives with knowledge of the matter.
Fibria seems the most unlikely suitor because a key shareholder, state development bank BNDES, is unlikely to approve a transaction that could shore up the Batistas, Valor said, without saying how it got the information.
In their plea bargain, both Batistas ensnared President Michel Temer in a corruption scandal, unleashing retaliatory actions from his government against the group.