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Pilgrim’s Pride Offers To Buy Hillshire For $5.58B

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NEW YORK (AP) – The poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride is offering to acquire Chicago-based meat producer Hillshire Brands in a deal worth about $5.58 billion to create a “protein-focused company.”

Pilgrim’s Pride is offering $45 per share for Hillshire, which makes Hillshire Farm lunch meats and Jimmy Dean sausages. That is a 24 percent premium to Hillshire’s closing price Friday of $36.23. Hillshire has 124 million shares outstanding, according to SEC filings.

Pilgrim’s Pride values the deal at $6.4 billion, when debt is included.

Pilgrim’s Pride said in announcing its offer on Tuesday that the deal is a better offer than Hillshire’s plan announced earlier this month to buy Pinnacle Foods for $4.23 billion. Pinnacle makes Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Duncan Hines cake mixes and Hungry Man frozen dinners. Hillshire has been interested in expanding into other sections of the supermarket as more Americans watch how much meat they’re eating.

But Pilgrim’s Pride said its offer would create a protein-focused company with “strong, consistent earnings and complementary competencies.”

It said the combined company would have an “attractive” portfolio of meat brands, including Pierce, Wing Dings, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Ball Park and State Fair.

Hillshire Brands did not respond to a request for comment. Its shares jumped 23 percent to $45.40 in premarket trading.

Pilgrim’s Pride says the deal could close in the third quarter of 2014 if Hillshire terminates its deal with Pinnacle. Pilgrim’s said it will pay the $163 million termination fee required to end the Hillshire deal with Pinnacle Foods. Pinnacle shares fell 7 percent to $30.93 in premarket trading Tuesday.

Pilgrim’s Pride said it will finance its deal with existing cash and new debt.

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