JBS ups Pilgrim’s Pride stake; founder resigns

GREELEY – JBS has increased its stake in Pilgrim’s Pride to more than 75 percent and founder Lonnie A. “Bo” Pilgrim has left the company after more than six decades.

JBS USA Holdings Inc., Pilgrim’s majority stockholder, raised its holdings in the company by more than 7 percent.

JBS bought 18.9 million shares of Pilgrim’s common stock from Bo Pilgrim for $107.6 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The transaction will close March 26.

Shares closed at $6.96 when the deal was reached Monday.

Bo Pilgrim joined the company shortly after his brother Aubrey Pilgrim and Pat Johns formed a partnership and bought a feed and seed store for $3,500 in Pittsburg, Texas, in 1946.

“We were working long hours, sometimes hauling a load of peas over to the Cass County Canning Co. in Atlanta, Texas, not getting home until three o’clock in the morning, then getting to the store to open it at seven o’clock,” Bo Pilgrim recalled, according to Pilgrim’s website. “The fact is, it was all about survival. Survival meant meeting a customer’s expectations so the customer would become a return customer.”

Bo Pilgrim went on to serve as chief executive officer of Pilgrim’s from 1968 to 1998, according to Forbes. He had served as director since 1968.

In 2009, Bo Pilgrim reached a consulting agreement with Pilgrim’s, which agreed to pay him $1.5 million annually for five years as part of a bankruptcy court order. JBS took control of the company that year.

Bo Pilgrim’s resignation on Monday will not affect the consulting agreement except that he must waive his right to continue as director, according to the SEC filing.

Pilgrim’s will begin a search to fill the board of directors position “as soon as practicable,” the company said in the filing.

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