US poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has announced that it has extended its tender offer for Gold Kist until 5.00pm New York time on 29 November 2006. The company said the offer would expire at that time unless it was further extended.

The previous offer and withdrawal rights expired at midnight on 27 October, at which point a total of approximately 16.84m shares of Gold Kist common stock, or approximately 33% of Gold Kist’s outstanding shares, had been tendered and not withdrawn.

The company also announced an identical extension of its offer to purchase Gold Kist’s outstanding 10-1/4% Senior Notes due 15 March 2014. As of midnight on Friday (27 October), the company said it had received tenders and related consents with respect to approximately 99.9% of the aggregate principal amount of the outstanding Gold Kist Notes.

Pilgrim’s Pride first launched its takeover bid for Gold Kist on 18 August, and the takeover battle has become steadily more acrimonious over the weeks since.

After the Gold Kist board rejected the offer, stating that it was not in the best interests of shareholders, it filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Georgia to stop Pilgrim’s Pride from proceeding with what it called an unlawful solicitation of its stockholders to add its own officers to the board of directors of Gold Kist.

In response, Pilgrim’s Pride sent an open and critical letter to Pilgrim’s Pride shareholders, saying that the Gold Kist board was not managing the process in the best interests of shareholders and reminding shareholders that the offer represents a premium of 55% over Gold Kist’s closing stock price on the last day of trading before it launched its bid.

The US$20 per share offer values the total transaction at $1bn, plus the assumption of approximately $144m of Gold Kist’s debt.