UPDATE 1-Brazil's JBS says to abandon long-running search for acquisitions
(Adds comments on exchange rate, bird flu, context)
SAO PAULO, March 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian meats company JBS SA plans to focus on Australia, its U.S. pork operations and its processed foods division under a 2015 strategy focused on "organic expansion" rather than acquisitions, CEO Wesley Batista said on Thursday.
Between 2.5 billion and 3 billion reais ($806 million - $967 million) in capital investment will be needed this year to support the strategy, Batista said during a conference call.
The company first said it would not seek new acquisitions this year in its fourth-quarter earnings statement on Wednesday, ending a years-long strategy of aggressive takeovers.
"We have many fruits to harvest," Batista said of the company's recent acquisitions.
JBS plans to finalize its $1.25 billion purchase of Australian processed foods maker Primo Smallgoods this month. The deal, announced in November, is an opportunity to increase sales in Asian markets.
The company also has more synergies to reap from the 2013 purchase of Brazilian poultry producer Seara, Batista said.
After reporting 2014 revenue of 120 billion reais, the one-time family-run butcher surpassed miner Vale SA as Brazil's largest private sector non-bank company by revenue.
Batista said JBS would continue to protect its business with hedge contracts in dollars, a strategy it adopted to avoid losses related to a weakening real. About 80 percent of JBS's debt is in dollars. Continuación...