Shuanghui International

Smithfield investor seeks to block Shuanghui deal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 September, 2013, 3:17am

One of US pork producer Smithfield Foods' largest shareholders said yesterday that it plans to vote against a proposed takeover by China's largest meat producer because it wants more time to seek other offers that would provide greater shareholder value.

New York-based investment firm Starboard Value, which owns about 5.7 per cent of Smithfield's common stock, wrote to shareholders yesterday saying it would vote against the deal, struck with Shuanghui International, at a meeting scheduled for September 24 in Richmond.

Also yesterday, Shuanghui announced that it had secured about US$4 billion in financing for the deal, in which Smithfield plans to sell itself for US$34 per share, or US$4.7 billion.

The deal, expected to close by the end of the year, would be the largest takeover of a US company by a Chinese firm and is valued at about US$7.1 billion including debt. It still requires approval of the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews overseas transactions for national-security implications.

Smithfield has promoted the deal as opening the door to substantial increases in exports to China, but critics have voiced concerns about persistent problems with food safety on the mainland.

Starboard said in yesterday's letter it had received written interest from other parties to buy Smithfield's assets at a higher value than being offered by Shuanghui. It said that while it had come "quite a long way", it needed more time to put the alternative proposal together. Starboard said it hoped its vote would compel Smithfield to delay the shareholder meeting.

In June, Starboard estimated Smithfield's value at US$9 billion to US$10.8 billion, or about US$44 to US$55 per share.