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Will promises be kept in proposed Smithfield Foods merger?

Published 10:32am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It makes sense that many in Western Tidewater would view the proposed merger between Smithfield Foods and the Chinese holding company Shuanghui International through jade colored glasses. In 1999, when International Paper purchased Union Camp, many said it was only a matter of time before IP shuttered the mill, just as they had done so many times before following similar acquisitions. Rumors swirled for years that there was a ten-year clause in the purchase agreement that prohibited IP from shutting down for at least a decade.

Shortly after a decade had elapsed, and just after announcing how profitable the Franklin mill was, IP pulled the plug.

Smithfield Foods’ executives, as well as spokesmen for Shuanghui, have said they plan to keep Smithfield Foods’ headquarters in Smithfield. Reports also indicate that Smithfield’s president and CEO, C. Larry Pope, would receive a retention bonus of $8.3 million should he remain at the helm for the next three years. Other senior executives have reportedly been offered similar bonuses.

Given the region’s, and especially Isle of Wight County’s, history with losing a major employer, we will keep our fingers crossed hoping that Smithfield Foods stays put for a very long time. IP’s closure dealt Western Tidewater one a hell of a blow. Should Smithfield Foods depart, well, lets just hope it doesn’t.

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    At the very least, I predict this: Once we start bigtime exports of pork to feed all of China(we already export some, you will see pork prices, because of “supply and demand,” skyrocket to six dollars per pound, and higher, just like beef is now. Once that happens, poultry prices will climb as well, since there will be no other cheap meat alternatives, to keep poultry prices low. Welcome to the global economy!

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