Brazil's Americanas halts efforts to sell fruit and vegetable unit

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian retailer Americanas has decided to halt efforts to sell its fruit and vegetable unit Hortifruti Natural da Terra (HNT) less than a week after saying it had entered into exclusive talks for the divestment.

Americanas, which is under bankruptcy protection since early 2023 after uncovering a billion-dollar accounting scandal, said in a securities filing late on Monday that the decision came as it needed to maintain its teams focused on filing updated financial results for 2021 and 2022.

The retailer, backed by the billionaire trio that founded 3G Capital, had previously said it was also halting the process to sell subsidiary Uni.co because proposed conditions for the divestment did not reflect what it considered to be the "fair value" of the asset.

"Despite being a relevant part of the bankruptcy process under discussion with creditors, the sale of the UPIs only make sense within certain parameters, mainly price," Americanas said.

The retailer added it would continue to monitor such parameters to decide whether it would be appropriate to resume the divestment efforts in the future, but noted it had no plans to do so in the short term.

"The company is in discussions with the potential interested party in HNT to formalize the termination of the exclusivity period previously negotiated between the parties," it said.

Americanas did not name the interested party, but Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico reported last week that supermarket chain St Marche had opened talks for the potential acquisition.

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Alberto Alerigi Jr., editing by David Evans)