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May 30, 2013

US: CP Foods, JBS unlikely to table rival Smithfield bids

Thai food giant Charoen Pokphand Foods and Brazilian meat group JBS look unlikely to table counter bids for Smithfield Foods after claims they were considering buying the US pork processor before it agreed to a takeover offer from China's Shuanghui International.

By Dean Best

Thai food giant Charoen Pokphand Foods and Brazilian meat group JBS look unlikely to table counter bids for Smithfield Foods after claims they were considering buying the US pork processor before it agreed to a takeover offer from China’s Shuanghui International.

Bloomberg last night reported Charoen Pokphand Foods and JBS were preparing their own bids for Smithfield, which has backed a offer from Shuanghui that values the US group at US$7.1bn.

Reuters also carried an interview with Charoen Pokphand Foods president and CEO Adirek Sripratak in which he was quoted as saying the company had approached Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank ahead of financing a possible bid for Smithfield.

The merger agreement between Shuanghui and Smithfield gives the US processor a limited “go-shop” period in which it can solicit alternative acquisition proposals from two unidentified “third parties”. These two entities did put forward proposals before the deal between Shuanghui and Smithfield.

Speaking to just-food today, Charoen Pokphand Foods indicated it had struck a non-disclosure agreement with Smithfield but said it did not have enough time to pursue its interest in the company.

“Charoen Pokphand Foods Plc clarifies on the Bloomberg news dated 29 May 2013 that CP Foods studied Smithfield Foods, which is one of opportunities available to the Company. However the opportunity in this case came with a very limited time frame,” it said.

“CP Foods congratulates Shuanghui International for its merger agreement. CP Foods also congratulates Smithfield Foods and its shareholders for the attractive share price offered to them. However, CP Foods states that it cannot provide any more information regarding this matter due to the non-disclosure agreement which agreement is a usual for this type of transaction.”

Reuters reported today that Charoen Pokphand Foods is looking for deals in Europe and the US.

“The global economic crisis has prompted many companies to approach us to sell assets. We are in talks on several deals,” Sripratak was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Charoen Pokphand Foods did not respond to a request from just-food to comment on that report.

JBS, the Brazilian meat giant that already has beef, pork and poultry interests in the US. In 2008, it bought Smithfield’s beef operations in the US for US$565m.

However, JBS was coy about whether it had or still has any interest in buying the rest of the business but appeared to rule out an offer.

When asked if JBS planned to bid for Smithfield, a spokesperson told just-food: “With a 30% premium in relation to yesterdays closing price, this looks like a deal done.”

When pushed on whether JBS had been in talks or could definitively rule out an offer, the spokesperson added: “All I would say is that this seems to be a done deal.”

For more coverage of Shuanghui’s takeover bid for Smithfield, click here.

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