JBS bought the business just two years ago for £1.2bn but is now rapidly trying to offload assets to cut its debt pile. Its weak financial position has been exacerbated after its controlling shareholder, J&F Investimentos, entered into a 10.3bn real (£2.5bn) plea bargain for its role in a political corruption scandal in Brazil.
Moy Park is the largest private employer in Northern Ireland with 6,300 workers based in County Armagh.
Chinese group WH, which controls the world’s largest pork producer Smithfield Foods, has also previously been tipped as a suitor for the business. Other companies believed to be interested include US-based Tyson Foods, Brazilian food company BRF and private equity firm CapVest.
Bankers close to the process said that a deal was unlikely to be derailed by the Chinese government’s crackdown on overseas acquisitions as New Hope could prove there was industrial logic behind a takeover and argue that the deal would boost China’s efforts towards self-sufficiency in agriculture.
Last week, China’s State Council said that it would restrict “irrational” foreign takeovers of property, film, entertainment, sports and hotel companies. The move follows a string of overseas leisure deals by Dalian Wanda and Fosun.
Overseas deals by Chinese companies hit a record $170bn (£132bn) in 2016, prompting the Chinese government to scrutinise some companies.