Shareholder says Smithfield undervalued in Chinese takeover bid

June 17, 2013
TAKEOVERS
Shareholder contests bid for Smithfield

One of Smithfield Foods’ largest shareholders says a $4.72 billion takeover bid from China’s largest meat producer falls short of what the company would be worth if sold off piece by piece.

In a letter to the Smithfield, Va.-based pork producer’s board of directors Monday, the New York-based investment firm Starboard Value estimated the company’s value at $9 billion to $10.8 billion, or about $44 to $55 per share. Starboard owns about 5.7 percent of Smithfield’s common stock.

Under the deal struck last month with Shuanghui International Holdings, Smithfield will sell itself for $34 per share. The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, would be the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, valued at about $7.1 billion, including debt.

Smithfield did not immediately comment on Starboard’s letter and a spokesman for Shuanghui declined to comment.

Starboard said that while the deal with Shuanghui does offer some value, shareholders would be better served if the company focused on selling off its divisions, which include fresh pork and hog production businesses as well as an international division.

— Associated Press

TECHNOLOGY
Apple cites number of U.S. data requests

Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests for customer data from U.S. law-enforcement authorities relating to criminal investigations and national security matters over the past six months, the company said Monday.

Microsoft and Facebook published similar data Friday after reaching a deal about disclosures with U.S. national security authorities.

“We have asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests we receive related to national security and how we handle them. We have been authorized to share some of that data,” Apple said.

In a statement posted on its Web site, Apple said the requests were received from Dec. 1, 2012, to May 31 and that between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities.

The most common form of request came from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease or hoping to prevent a suicide, Apple said.

— Reuters

Also in Business

Lowe’s plans to expand its California presence with an acquisition of Sears spinoff Orchard Supply Hardware stores for about $205 million in cash. Orchard Supply filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Monday, so the offer from Lowe’s will become the “stalking horse” bid for an auction of Orchard’s assets. Such a bid sets the floor for an auction process that lets competitors make better offers. Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s said it would acquire at least 60 of Orchard’s 91 stores, and alternative bids must top Lowe’s offer by at least $12 million. Lowe’s also would assume responsibility for money owed to nearly all of Orchard’s suppliers.

Google has settled a shareholder class-action lawsuit that clears the way for the company to issue a new class of nonvoting stock, giving Google a currency for acquisitions that would not dilute the founders’ control. The online search engine leader had planned to issue Class C shares as a dividend to investors. A shareholder, the Brockton Retirement Board, sued, claiming that the plan gave the founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, added control without paying for it. The settlement, announced Monday, ends the lawsuit that had been scheduled to go to trial Tuesday in the Court of Chancery in Delaware, where Google is incorporated. Google’s founders would have had to testify.

●  Spending on the average wedding in the United States climbed 5.2 percent to $28,427 in 2012 from a year earlier, according to XO Group, a New York-based company whose Web sites include theknot.com and WeddingChannel.com. And the average cost of a wedding dress climbed to $1,211 last year from $1,121 in 2011 and $1,099 in 2010, according to XO Group.

Most U.S. home builders are optimistic about home sales for the first time in seven years. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday leaped to 52 this month from 44 in May. It was the largest monthly increase since 2002. A reading above 50 indicates more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor. The index hasn’t been that high since April 2006, just before the housing market collapsed.

— From news services

Coming Today

8:30 a.m.: Consumer Price Index for May and housing starts for May released.

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