Tyson Foods, the largest American beef and chicken producer, is in the final stage of talks with the fourth-biggest producer of chicken in China, according to an executive familiar with the negotiations. Tyson has proposed a US$150 million joint venture with Fujian Sunner Group, of which it would hold 51 per cent and Sunner 49 per cent. Tyson would appoint the joint venture's chairman and Sunner chairman Fu Guangming would serve as chief executive. Under Tyson's plan, the joint venture would produce 120 million chickens a year by 2010 - four times the processing capacity of Sunner, a private company. The executive said Tyson's proposed ownership stakes remained a sticking point as Mr Fu was reluctant to yield control. Sunner officials declined comment. In terms of scale, Tyson dwarfs Sunner. According to its website, Tyson has sales of more than US$24 billion - compared with just one billion yuan last year for Sunner - and processes about 40 million chickens, 200,000 head of beef and 345,000 pigs a week. Based in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson has 52 chicken processing plants, 36 prepared food plants, 11 animal protein factories, four tanneries and one tallow refinery. China has been an export market for Tyson for 10 years and accounts for 8 per cent of its chicken exports and 6 per cent of its overseas beef sales. Mr Fu established Sunner in Nanping, Fujian in 1983 with a 20,000 yuan bank loan and now values his company at 730 million yuan. The company has been supplying chicken to Kentucky Fried Chicken's China operation since 1992.