Pilgrim’s Pride offers to buy Hillshire in $6.4 billion deal-Reuters

(Reuters) – Pilgrim’s Pride Corp, the world’s second largest chicken producer, said it offered to buy packaged food company Hillshire Brands Co in a $6.4 billion deal as it looks to add pork and beef products to its portfolio.

The cash offer of $45 per share represents a premium of about 22 percent to Hillshire’s Friday closing.

Hillshire shares were trading slightly above the offer at $45.35 in premarket trading, suggesting that some investors were expecting a higher offer. Pilgrim’s shares were down 3.4 percent.

Pilgrim’s offer comes days after Hillshire, known for its Jimmy Dean sausages and Hillshire lunch meats, offered to buy Pinnacle Foods Inc in a $4.3 billion deal. Pinnacle’s brands include Birds Eye frozen vegetables and Vlasic pickles.

“A sale of (Hillshire) at the price … offers superior value and far greater certainty to Hillshire shareholders than the contemplated Pinnacle transaction,” Pilgrim’s Pride Chief Executive William Lovette said in a letter to Hillshire.

Pilgrim’s said the offer had the support of Brazilian meat processor JBS S.A., which owns about 68 percent of the company. JBS is the world’s largest integrated meats producer.

Pilgrim’s said it expects to finance the deal with existing cash and third party financing.

Lazard is the financial adviser to Pilgrim’s and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is the legal adviser