9:45 a.m. UPDATE: In a news release, company officials said shareholders today approved the deal with Shuanghui International Holdings. They said more than 96% of the votes cast were voted in favor of the transaction.
C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield, said, 'This is a great transaction for all Smithfield stakeholders, as well as for American farmers and U.S. agriculture. The partnership is all about growth, and about doing more business at home and abroad. It will remain business as usual -- only better -- at Smithfield, and we look forward to embarking on this new chapter.'
Smithfield Mayor T. Carter Williams told 13News Now, 'My thoughts haven't changed from the very beginning. I think it's a wait and see thing, what's going to happen? The town of Smithfield hasn't gotten a thing in the world to do with it. We hope everything is a positive change. Everything that the president and CEO has told me that nothing is going to change. That's the only thing we can hang our head on.'

RICHMOND (AP) -- Shareholders of Smithfield Foods are set to vote on a deal to sell the pork producer to a Chinese company.

The Smithfield-based company is meeting in Richmond at 9:00 a.m. for shareholders to weigh in on Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.'s $34 per share offer.

The deal announced in May would be the largest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, valued at about $7.1 billion including debt.

Smithfield Foods Inc.'s largest shareholder said last week it would vote in favor of the deal after failing to find an alternative bidder.

A U.S. committee that reviews mergers between American companies and those overseas has given clearance to the deal.

The buyout comes amid food safety problems in China. Shuanghui is the largest shareholder of China's biggest meat processor.

Company officials have 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-09-24-13 0647GMT

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