Hillshire board OKs discussions with Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson

GREELEY – The Hillshire Brands Co. (NYSE: HSH) said its Board of Directors will conduct separate discussions with Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (Nasdaq: PPC) and Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN) on the companies’ offers to acquire Hillshire.

The announcement came the same day that Pilgrim’s Pride raised its offer to acquire Hillshire to $7.7 billion, an increase of $1.3 billion from the Greeley-based chicken processor’s previous offer of $6.4 billion.

Tuesday’s $55-per-share offer by Pilgrim’s Pride follows Tyson’s $50-per-share bid for Hillshire last week. Tyson valued its deal at $6.8 billion.

Pilgrim’s Pride had previously offered $45 per share for Chicago-based Hillshire, which makes Jimmy Dean sausage and Ball Park hot dogs. The offers by Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride follow Hillshire’s attempt to acquire Pinnacle Foods Inc. (NYSE: PF) for $18 per share.

The offers by Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson are conditioned on the termination of the Hillshire’s merger with Pinnacle.

“Hillshire Brands does not have the right to terminate the Pinnacle Foods merger agreement on the basis of either of these proposals or enter into an alternative acquisition agreement with either of these parties prior to termination,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

“There can be no assurance that any transaction will result from these proposals.”

Pilgrim’s Pride employs about 35,700 people and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 12 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Company shares were down 2 percent to $25.46 in afternoon trading.

Hillshire shares rose 9 percent to $58.39 while Tyson shares fell 3 percent to $42.27.

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