UPDATE 1-Maple Leaf refinances C$355 million of debt

Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:30pm EST

* Some proceeds received on Thursday

* Food processor launching plan to improve earnings

WINNIPEG, Manitoba Dec 16 (Reuters) - Maple Leaf Foods (MFI.TO) said on Thursday it has agreed to refinance C$355 million ($351 million) in debt as it carries out a C$1 billion plan to modernize and consolidate its meatpacking plants.

Maple Leaf, a leading Canadian food processor, said it received a portion of the proceeds on Thursday and will receive the rest around Jan. 4. Net proceeds will repay existing debt, it said.

Maple Leaf earlier this year announced a plan to boost earnings by making its meat-processing plants more efficient by adding new technologies and closing some plants.

Earlier on Thursday, Maple Leaf said a private placement transaction for 25 percent of its shares, previously held by Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, had been completed.

($1=$1.01 Canadian) (Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Peter Galloway)