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Smithfield retains Goldman for advice on split-up

Largest shareholder suggests that Smithfield should split itself into three independent, separate companies.

Smithfield Foods Inc., the largest hog producer and pork processor in the U.S., has retained Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise it on a shareholder's suggestion that the company should split itself into three independent, separate companies, according to wire reports. 

The suggestion came from Continental Grain Co., which is one of Smithfield's largest shareholders, holding about 6% of the company.

Continental proposed that Smithfield divide itself into a hog production company, a fresh pork and packaged meats company in the U.S. and an international hog production and pork processing company in Europe (Feedstuffs, March 18). Those are the businesses that Smithfield currently houses.

Continental maintained that this would free capital for Smithfield to focus on the higher-margined packaged meats sector and increase the company's value. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News said they believe this would raise Smithfield's stock value by 23%.

Smithfield's pork and packaged meats business in the U.S. generated $8.324 billion in sales in the first three quarters of the company's fiscal 2013, 3.6 times hog production revenues.

Smithfield chief executive officer and president C. Larry Pope has said he does not support the proposed split-up, saying the company benefits significantly from its current integrated structure.

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