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SAO PAULO, June 21 (Reuters) - Brazil's JBS SA, the world's largest meat packer, has agreed to pay $1.5 billion for Moy Park Ltd, the British unit of rival Marfrig Global Foods SA, a source with direct knowledge of the transaction said on Sunday.
JBS, which has undertaken a massive overseas expansion since 2007, will assume Moy Park's debt as part of the deal, said the source, who requested anonymity since terms remain private. The deal could be announced officially as early as later on Sunday, the source added.
Sao Paulo-based JBS, controlled by the Batista family, declined to comment on the purchase, which was first reported by Veja magazine's online edition.
Moy Park, the largest producer of poultry in the United Kingdom, will give JBS access to affluent markets in Britain, Scandinavia and other European countries where consumption of processed food is growing. Moy Park accounts for 26 percent of Marfrig's revenues and commercializes products from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
For years, Marfrig has been trying to cut costs, boost productivity and divest assets to reduce a significant part of its $5 billion debt.
Moy Park is not the first deal between JBS and Marfrig: a couple of years ago, JBS agreed to buy processed food maker Seara from Marfrig, a move that allowed JBS to significantly increase its market share in Brazil. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Roberto Samora; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Eric Walsh)