Continental Grain to sell entire stake in Smithfield Foods

June 4 Mon Jun 3, 2013 11:14pm EDT

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June 4 (Reuters) - Continental Grain Co, the largest shareholder in Smithfield Foods Inc, said on Monday it would sell its entire stake in the world's biggest pork producer, preventing an impending proxy battle after China's Shuanghui International Holdings moved in to buy Smithfield in a multi-billion dollar deal.

Originally formed in 1813 as a grain-trading firm in Arlon, Belgium, privately-held Continental's founding family relocated to the United States after World War II. It held a 5.84 percent stake in Smithfield as of April 25, according to Reuters data.

Continental sent Smithfield a letter in March urging a breakup and moved towards a proxy fight with the pork producer after filing a presentation with U.S. securities regulators in April. Continental had said it would seek shareholder support for a turnaround plan for Smithfield, which included splitting the hog producer into three companies.

Shuanghui International Holdings said last week it would buy Smithfield Foods for $4.7 billion.

"In light of the announced transaction, we have elected to exit our long-term ownership position in Smithfield because we are satisfied with our investment return," Continental's chief executive, Paul Fribourg, said in a statement.

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