The offering may increase by 70 million shares if underwriters exercise an option to sell additional stock to meet demand. JBS expects to price the stock sale on April 27.

JBS, which started as a small abattoir in Brazil’s midwest, has ballooned in size in recent years through a series of acquisitions in the United States, Europe and Asia to become the world’s biggest beef exporter. It also has major assets in the tanning business since effectively acquired fellow Brazilian meat processor and tanner Bertin (Bracol) last year. In volume terms JBS are now the worlds largest leather processor.

The company plans to use two-thirds of the proceeds from the stock offering to expand its direct sales business, including acquisitions of distribution centers and delivery trucks. The remaining funds will be set aside for working capital.

JBS posted a profit of 129.4 million reais ($73.8 million) in 2009 on sales of 34.3 billion reais ($19.6 billion), compared with a profit of 25.9 million reais ($14.8 million) on sales of 30.3 billion reais ($17.3 billion) the previous year.

JBS hired BTG Pactual, the Brazilian investment bank controlled by billionaire Andre Esteves, as lead underwriter of the offering. JP Morgan, Santander Brasil and the investment banking units of Bradesco and Banco do Brasil will also help manage the offering.

Banks stand to earn as much as 54 million reais ($30.8 million) in fees from the stock sale, or the equivalent of 2.5% of the total offering.