MF Global distributions: Between $500 million and $600 million will be returned to the MF Global Inc. estate under an agreement announced by James W. Giddens, trustee for the Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) liquidation of MF Global, and Richard Heis, a joint administrator of MF Global UK Ltd. (MFGUK). Separately, Giddens and Louis J. Freeh, the Chapter 11 trustee for MF Global Holdings Ltd., announced that they will resolve all claims between their respective estates. Once certain conditions are satisfied to make the agreements effective and if approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Giddens anticipates that the agreement between MF Global and MFGUK will result in 100% satisfaction of allowed securities customers' claims and significant additional distributions to commodity customers who traded on U.S. and non-U.S. exchanges. Securities Investor Protection Corp. president Stephen Harbeck said his firm "looks forward to continuing to work with the trustee and other parties to make sure all conditions are met and the agreements are approved by the court so that the distributions of funds to customers can occur." Full details on the agreements can be found at www.mfglobaltrustee.com.
Bayer cleared to buy Teva business: The Federal Trade Commission has cleared Bayer HealthCare LLC to acquire the U.S. animal health business of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in which Bayer will pay Teva $60 million in cash and up to an additional $85 million in "milestone payments" based on Bayer achieving manufacturing and sales targets. The Bayer-Teva agreement, announced last month, allows Bayer to expand its companion and food animal product lines in the U.S., especially in dermatological and nutraceutical products for pets and anti-infective solutions and reproductive hormones for livestock. Bayer Animal Health is the fourth-largest animal health company in the U.S., with 2011 sales of $1.48 billion.
Baer to lead DOJ antitrust division: Bill Baer has been appointed assistant attorney general for the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a Jan. 2 announcement. Since 2000, Baer has been a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and director of the firm's antitrust practice in Washington, D.C., that provides counsel on a broad range of antitrust and consumer protection issues. He previously was director of the bureau of competition at the Federal Trade Commission.
Smithfield reports sow housing update: Smithfield Foods Inc. announced that, at the end of 2012, it had successfully transitioned 38% of pregnant sows on company-owned farms in the U.S. from individual gestation stalls to group housing systems. In the latest update, the company reported that it remains on track to finish its conversion to group housing on all company-owned farms in the U.S. by 2017. In addition, Smithfield said its international hog production operations also will complete their conversions from gestation stalls to group housing on company-owned farms by 2022. Smithfield's hog production operations in Poland (AgriPlus) and Romania (Smithfield Ferme) completed their conversions to group housing facilities on company-owned farms a number of years ago.
Hormel to buy Skippy business: Hormel Foods Corp. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Skippy peanut butter business from Unilever United States Inc. for approximately $700 million. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals. The Skippy domestic line consists of 11 varieties of shelf-stable peanut butter products. The brand, first introduced in 1932, holds the number-two share in its category and is the leading brand in the faster-growing subcategory of natural peanut butter. Internationally, Skippy peanut butter is the leading brand in China and is sold in more than 30 other countries on five continents. Total annual sales are expected to be approximately $370 million, with nearly $100 million of those sales outside the U.S. "The acquisition of the Skippy peanut butter business represents a significant opportunity for Hormel Foods. It allows us to grow our branded presence in the center of the store with a non-meat protein product, and it reinforces our balanced portfolio," said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, Hormel chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Darrell Knabe: Dr. Darrell Knabe, professor of animal nutrition in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, died Dec. 25 at the age of 62. Knabe joined the department as an assistant professor in 1978 and became a full professor in 1991. Over the course of his 34-year career, Knabe educated thousands through his animal nutrition and swine production courses. His research efforts focused primarily on protein and amino acid nutrition of growing swine and the nutritional means of increasing reproductive efficiency in sows. Knabe earned his bachelor of science in agriculture from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University) in 1971 and earned both master of science and doctorate degrees in animal science from Texas A&M. After graduation, he was employed for two years as a swine nutritionist at ACCO Feeds in Abilene, Texas, before starting his career in education at Texas A&M.