Bankers bullish on Smithfield, Sara Lee deal

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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NEW YORK – Bankers on Wall Street are interested in repping Smithfield Foods in acquiring Sara Lee Corp.'s North American meat business — should that business eventually be put on the block, according to one Smithfield executive.

During a conference call with analysts on March 8, Bo Manly, Smithfield’s chief financial officer, said he can’t go more than three days in a row without a major New York bank or investment bank contacting his company saying it would like to represent Smithfield in a Sara Lee meat business acquisition, Reuters relays.

Later this year, Sara Lee plans to spin off its international coffee and tea business and relocate it to the Netherlands. As a result, Sara Lee will then become a North American company, selling Jimmy Dean sausages and Hillshire Farm lunch meat, among other products.

Manly said many companies would look at Sara Lee’s meat business if it goes on the block, including Smithfield, and that it would fit into Smithfield's branded meat portfolio. However, he did not indicate Smithfield had a strong interest in acquiring this business. Other companies may have a stronger interest in buying the Sara Lee meat business if put on the block, he added.

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