July 11 - Smithfield Foods defends its plan to sell its operations for $4.7 billion to a Chinese firm, in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company to date. Jessica Gray reports.
U.S. lawmakers question Smithfield Foods at a Senate hearing in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. They are mulling the company's proposed $4.7 billion sale to Shuanghui International Holdings over worries it could lead to higher prices for American consumers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEMOCRATIC SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW SAYING: "This is a precedent setting case and we owe it to consumers and producers and workers to ensure we are asking the right questions and evaluating the long-term implications." Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope said the sale of the Virginia pork products firm would bring about little change in operations or product quality. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LARRY POPE, CEO OF SMITHFIELD FOODS SAYING: "Let me be clear, Shuanghui intends to retain Smithfield's management team, its plants and all of its employees. Shuanghui recognises Smithfield's best in class operations, outstanding food safety practices and our 46,000 hard working employees. There should be no noticeable impact on how we do business operationally in America and around the world as a result of this acquisition, except that we plan to do more of it." Pope said the buyout would also boost the firm's global exports, driven by China's growing middle class. But critics contend the sale could threaten domestic food safety, amid concerns over what type of food production practices Shuanghui could bring to the U.S. Lawmakers are also worried about the implications of Shuanghui getting access to Smithfield Food's technology and hog genetics.