Big shareholder concedes on Smithfield deal

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Associated Press

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Updated Friday, Sep 20 at 11:01 PM

Smithfield Foods Inc.'s largest shareholder says it will vote in favor of a proposed takeover by a Chinese meat producer after failing to find an alternative bidder.

Starboard Value LP had said earlier this month that that it would vote against Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.'s $34 per share offer because it wanted more time to seek alternatives that would provide better shareholder value.

The New York investment firm said Friday that it believes another bidder could have offered shareholders a better deal, but it could not secure an offer under existing time and financial constraints. Unless another proposal emerges, Starboard plans on voting in favor of Shuanghui's $4.7 billion offer. The vote has been set for Tuesday.

Starboard owns about 5.7 percent of Smithfield's common stock.

The investment firm had argued that while the deal with Shuanghui does offer some value, shareholders would be better served if the company focused on selling its various divisions, which include fresh pork and hog production businesses, as well as its international divisions.

Because Smithfield is contractually prohibited from seeking superior offers or contacting others who may be interested in acquiring parts of the company, the investment firm sought to find other buyers.

A representative for Smithfield could not be reached immediately for comment.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, would be the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, valued at about $7.1 billion including debt.

Smithfield shares fell 21 cents to close at $33.96 Friday.

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