published Monday, June 9th, 2014

Pilgrim's Pride drops offer for Hillshire Foods

Pilgrim's Pride Corp., today announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to acquire The Hillshire Brands Co., after Tyson Foods, Inc., the largest U.S. meat company, raised its bid for Hillshire to about $7.7 billion, or $63 per share.

Tyson outbid Hillshire over the weekend to gain control of the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs, according to Reuters news service.

Hillshire was known as Sara Lee Corp. before splitting off its tea and coffee segment in June 2012. Combined with Tyson, the merged company would have nearly $40 billion in annual sales.

Pilgrim’s, the chicken producer 75 percent owned by Brazil’s JBS SA, is one of Chattanooga's largest employers with nearly 1,000 employees at its two Chattanooga poultry processing plants. Pilgrim's Pride raised its offer for Hillshire to $55 per share last week but said today that it would not try to top the Tyson bid.

"As a disciplined acquirer, we determined that it was in the best interests of our shareholders not to increase our proposed price," said Bill Lovette, Pilgrim's chief executive officer. "Pilgrim's will maintain its strong focus on operational excellence and shareholder value, while pursuing acquisition opportunities that advance our stated strategy."

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