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Smithfield Foods Inc.'s largest shareholder says it will vote in favor of a proposed takeover by a Chinese meat producer after failing to find an alternative bidder.

Starboard Value LP said Friday that it believes another bidder could have offered shareholders a better deal but it could not secure an offer under existing time and financial constraints.

Unless another proposal emerges, Starboard plans on voting in favor of the $34-per-share offer for Smithfield made by China's Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.

Starboard said earlier this month that it would vote against the $4.7 billion deal because it wanted more time to seek other offers that would provide better shareholder value.

The New York-based investment firm owns about 5.7 percent of Smithfield's common stock.

Smithfield shares fell 20 cents to $33.97 in morning trading.

The vote is scheduled for the Sept. 24 shareholders meeting in Richmond.

The Smithfield-based pork company hase promoted the deal as opening the door to substantial increases in exports to China. Critics have voiced worry about persistent problems with food safety in China.

AP-WF-09-20-13 1458GMT

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