U.S. Meat Processor in $4.7 Billion Sale to Chinese Company
By MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED and MARK SCOTT
May 29, 2013
10:45 a.m. | Updated
Shuanghui International of China agreed on Wednesday to buy the American meat processor Smithfield Foods for about $4.7 billion, in one of the biggest moves by a Chinese company into the United States to date.
Under the terms of the deal, Shuanghui, which is the largest pork processor in China, will pay $34 a share for Smithfield, 31 percent above the company’s closing share price on Tuesday.
The deal is meant to give Smithfield, one of the world’s biggest pork producers, entryway into China. Smithfield has looked for ways to export its meat to the country, one of the biggest markets for pork, as growth in other markets has slowed.
The company eventually settled on a deal with Shuanghui, a Chinese counterpart that it has known for four years.
But it will likely draw close government scrutiny over Chinese food standards, especially amid a number of incidents like a recent scare over bird flu. Though Smithfield has argued that the deal is meant to sell American pork outside of the country and not import Chinese products, regulators are likely to ensure that the company does not lower its quality standards.
Shuanghui, also known as Shineway, is China’s largest pork producer and is owned in part by an investment firm run by Goldman Sachs. It has around $1.6 billion of assets and factories across China, as well as operating in other Asia countries like Japan and Korea, according to the company’s website.
The company, based in central China, is the parent company of the Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Company, which has been listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange since the late 1990s.
In 2011, Shuanghui was at the center of a meat scandal after some of its farms were found to have fed a chemical harmful to humans to livestock.
The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, is expected to close in the second half of the year.
Shares in Smithfield leaped over 25 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday, to $32.50. They have risen nearly 28 percent over the past 12 months.