The U.S. unit of the world's largest meat processor, JBS SA, filed for an initial public offering of up to $2 billion on Wednesday, making it the largest planned offering in the U.S. IPO pipeline.

Brazilian-based JBS SA has been expanding at a rapid pace in recent years by acquiring other beef processors. In 2008, JBS SA bought a 50 percent stake in Italy's Inalca, and took over Smithfield Foods Inc's beef business and Australia's Tasman Group.

JBS USA, made up of its U.S. and Australian plants, had sales of $15.4 billion in 2008, according to a prospectus filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

That tally accounted for about 78 percent of JBS SA's gross revenue for the first quarter of 2009, according to the filing.

JBS USA's prospectus did not indicate an expected timing for the deal's pricing. But if the IPO raises $2 billion, it will be the largest U.S. IPO since credit card operator Visa's $19 billion IPO in March 2008.

JBS USA said it plans to use the IPO's proceeds for substantial investments in order to significantly expand our direct distribution.

In March 2007, JBS went public on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange. Only four months later it bought 100 percent of U.S.-based Swift Foods Co, becoming the world's largest meat-packing company in terms of slaughter capacity.

So for this year, 11 IPOs in the United States, excluding those of real estate investment trusts, have raised $2.2 billion, including the $828 million IPO by infant nutrition maker Mead Johnson Nutrition in February.

JBS USA has applied to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol JBS and will also list on the Sao Paolo Stock Exchange.

The IPO will be led by J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)