Tyson Foods is one of the world's largest producers and processors of meat and poultry, but until recently its presence in the branded cold meats category was minimal. It solved that problem with the acquisition in 2014 of Hillshire Brands Company, primarily a specialist in ready-to-serve deli meats. Hillshire was all that remained of what had once been the diversified conglomerate Sara Lee Corporation. That group began breaking itself up in 2005, selling or demerging all of its apparel, household, bakery and bakery products over the next six years. (Hanesbrands and DE Master Blenders 1753 were two of the companies created in that process). Sara Lee Corporation's remaining operations in North America adopted the Hillshire name in 2012. Two years later, the business considered bulking up once again, with a proposal to acquire diversified groceries competitor Pinnacle Foods. That prompted rival meat processors JBS and Tyson Foods to launch their own bids for Hillshire. Tyson's offer ultimately triumphed, forcing the cancellation of the Pinnacle deal.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2016: US processor Tyson Foods, which recently diversified into branded cold meats with the purchase of Hillshire Brands, reported weaker than expected performance in the final quarter of its latest year. Investors were also spooked by a profit warning for the new financial year and the exit of CEO Donnie Smith in favour of Tom Hayes, currently group president and a former senior executive at Hillshire. Annual revenues to Sept slumped 11% to $36.7bn as a result of pricing pressures, divestures and a slightly shorter year. Nevertheless, net income hit a new high, up 44% to $1.8bn. However profit forecasts for the current year were well below analysts' expectations. Tyson and other meat processors are fighting a lawsuit which alleges they colluded to fix prices for chicken products. They vigorously deny the charges.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Nov 2015: Meat giant Tyson Foods announced record results for its latest year, including the first full-year's contribution from the Hillshire Brands deli business. Revenues were up 10% to $41.4bn, but net income soared 43% to $1.2bn. The contribution from prepared foods, including the Hillshire business, more than doubled to $7.8bn, and it was the group's second most profitable unit.
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Aug 2014: Cold meats specialist Hillshire Brands, owner of Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean and other brands, reported a strong finish to its brief run as an independent company, prior to absorption into Tyson Foods. For the year to June, revenues rose 4% to $4.1bn, and net income gained 15% to $212m. CEO Sean Connolly said he was looking forward to completing the merger with Tyson, but added "I am very proud of the entire Hillshire team and the terrific job they have done with our brands. We delivered against our goal of building a different kind of food company, one that is simultaneously innovative and lean. This approach has created significant value for our shareholders and a fulfilling work experience for our people."
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jun 2014: Tyson Foods appears to have secured the prize in the bidding war for cold meats group Hillshire Brands, leaving rival buyer Pilgrim's and would-be merger partner Pinnacle Foods nursing defeat. Tyson clinched the deal with an offer of $63 per share in cash, to a total deal value of almost $8.6bn including Hillshire's debt. Pilgrim's had offered $55 per share, and has now announced its withdrawal from the contest. The final price offers a significant premium over Hillshire's pre-bid share price of around $35. However the deal is conditional on Hillshire being released from its prior commitment to acquire Pinnacle. That decision rests with Hillshire's own shareholders (though a vote would take months to arrange) or Pinnacle's board. The latter might accept the pre-agreed $163m breakup fee (almost double its net profit last year) or push for more. A combined Tyson/Hillshire Brands creates a vertically integrated meat mammoth. Tyson is one of the world's biggest farmers and processors of chicken, beef and pork; it supplies fresh meat to retail and foodservice channels, as well as prepared cold meats under the Tyson, Wright and IBP brands, among others. Sales for 2013 were in excess of $34bn. Hillshire adds a collection of high-quality processed cold meats under Hillshire Farm, Jimmy Dean, Ball Park and other brands, with combined sales of around $4bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jun 2014: The battle for Hillshire Brands rages on, with Pilgrim's Pride, backed by Brazilian giant JBS, raising its offer to $55 per share, or around $7.7bn, topping rival Tyson Foods by as much as $900m. Hillshire's board agreed to open talks with both bidders, but is still hoping to persuade its shareholders to back its original proposal to acquire grocery rival Pinnacle. However, with investors betting on further offers still to come, that looks increasingly unlikely.
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