WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, PA. – West Conshohocken, Pa.-based Keystone Foods’ and Brazil-based Marfrig Group’s announcement June 15 that Keystone would be acquired by Marfrig for $1.26 billion and that the deal is expected to close within 60 days took many by surprise.

In the last decade, Keystone experienced rapid growth and has expanded its business in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific. One Keystone executive explained when announcing the acquisition that as the global protein industry consolidates, Keystone Foods recognizes the importance for its customers to have the ability to deal with suppliers who have their own sources of raw materials.

“With Marfrig, Keystone will be part of a strong global company that produces the products we now purchase on the open market,” said Jerry Dean, Keystone Foods’ chief executive officer. “Keystone will be positioned to offer greater value to its customers, and experience faster growth and stronger earnings.”

Under its new ownership, Keystone Foods will expand its manufacturing and distribution businesses. With Marfrig, Keystone expects to grow organically and seek acquisitions that strengthen its existing business and allow for expansion into new markets, according to a news release.

Based in São Paulo, Brazil, Marfrig operates 93 facilities in 13 countries and has more than 73,000 employees. The Marfrig Group has completed 37 acquisitions in the last three years. With the addition of Keystone Foods, the combined companies will have revenue of more than $16 billion.

Keystone Foods is a leading manufacturer and processor of poultry, beef, fish and pork, and provides custom distribution services to the foodservice industry around the world. Keystone produces more than 1.8 billion lbs. of poultry and more than 420 million lbs. of beef products annually. The company operates 54 facilities in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East and serves more than 28,000 restaurants in 13 countries worldwide.

Marfrig is one of the largest food companies in the world. The group has the control of, among others, five large divisions: Seara Alimentos (second-largest producer and exporter of further-processed poultry products of Brazil), Marfrig Alimentos (second-largest producer and exporter of beef products of Brazil), Moy Park (the largest poultry products processor in the U.K.), Quickfood (the largest beef company in Argentina) and Tacuarembó (the largest private company in Uruguay).

Through its 73,000 employees and 92 plants and commercial offices located in 13 countries, Marfrig Group’s products are present in more than 100 nations. In 2009, Marfrig Group reached $5.8 billion in gross revenue.