Tyson sells stake in plant-based meat maker Beyond Meat

(Reuters) - Tyson Foods Inc said on Wednesday it had sold its 6.5 percent stake in vegan burger maker Beyond Meat, as the no. 1 U.S. meat processor looks to develop its own line of alternative protein products.

The exit comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between the two companies after Tyson Chief Executive Officer Noel White said in February that the company would develop its own plant-based protein products, Axios reported here earlier on Wednesday, citing multiple sources.

Tyson’s stake was noticeably absent in Beyond Meat’s amended initial public offering filing on the list of stakeholders who own more than 5 percent.

Beyond Meat filed on Monday to raise up to $183.8 million in an IPO, seeking a valuation of up to $1.21 billion.

Based on that valuation, Tyson’s stake would have been worth about $79 million. It was not immediately clear how much Tyson sold its stake for, while the Axios report said there must have been multiple buyers.

“Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit ... (Tyson) plans to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer,” Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman told Reuters.

Beyond Meat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Beyond Meat, which sells its plant-based burger at Carl’s Jr., no longer wanted the Tyson Ventures representative in its board meetings, partly over fears that the company might try to interfere with potential mergers and acquisitions, according to the Axios report.

Tyson’s shares fell 1.6 percent in afternoon trading.

Retailer Walmart Inc said earlier in the day it would create its own an end-to-end supply chain of Angus beef, potentially competing with Tyson.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila