Tyson Foods Ups Hillshire Bid To $8.5B, Competitor Pilgrim’s Pride Withdraws Offer

If there were a book dedicated to showing companies how to win bidding wars, one of the surefire way to come out on top might include raising your offer by $2 billion. The tactic seems to have worked for Tyson Foods in its quest to outbid Pilgrim’s Pride in acquiring Hillshire Brands.

Arkansas-based Tyson Foods increased its initial offer of $6.8 billion for the Jimmy Dean and Ball Park frank producer to a whopping $8.5 billion, The New York Times DealBook reports.

“The Hillshire Brands acquisition would represent a defining moment for Tyson Foods,” Donnie Smith, Tyson’s president and chief executive officer, says in a news release Monday. “Now we will have those iconic [No. 1] and [No. 2] brands in numerous categories.”

Shortly after Tyson’s latest bid was revealed, Hillshire’s other suitor, Colorado-based Pilgrim’s Pride, announced in a statement Monday that the company withdrew its latest offer of $6.7 billion, leaving Tyson the defacto victor.

“As a disciplined acquirer, we determined that it was in the best interests of our shareholders not to increase our proposed price of $55.00 per share in cash,” Bill Lovette, Pilgrim’s Chief Executive Officer, says in a news release.

Officials at Hillshire tell DealBook they have received the most recent bid from Tyson, but the board has yet to make a formal recommendation.

Once again, Tyson’s latest deal includes the caveat that Hillshire terminate its $4.2 billion agreement to purchase Vlasic pickles and Birds Eye frozen vegetable maker Pinnacle Foods.

The escalating bidding war for Hillshire began on May 27 when Pilgrim’s Pride made an unsolicited offer of $5.5 billion. Just two days later Tyson entered the ring with a $6.1 billion offer.

Not one to bow out without a fight, Pilgrim’s Pride countered with a second bid of $6.7 billion last week. That move led Hillshire’s board to begin formal talks with both suitors.

Tyson Is Said to Win Battle for Hillshire Brands [New York Times DealBook]