Texas Buyout Firm to Acquire Con Agra Meats Company

DALLAS - Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Incorporated (HMTF) on Tuesday announced a definitive agreement to acquire ConAgra Meats Company, the fresh beef and pork processing business of ConAgra Foods Inc., in partnership with Vail, Colo.-based Booth Creek Management Corp. The transaction is valued at approximately $1.4 billion.

The newly independent company will be named Swift & Company, honoring and building upon one of ConAgra Meats' premier brand names. The original Swift & Company, currently a unit of ConAgra Meats, was incorporated in 1875.

Under the transaction, which the parties expect to complete during August 2002, Dallas-based buyout firm HMTF and Booth Creek will acquire ConAgra Meats, the third-largest processor of both beef and pork in the United States, its Australia Meat Holdings unit, the leading Australian beef processor, and its U.S. cattle feeding operations. HMTF will control the acquired entity.

Booth Creek, an investor in meatpacking and value-added processing operations, among other investment areas, will provide support to the acquired businesses and will hold a minority stake. The parties have said expect they expect to retain an ongoing relationship with ConAgra Foods, which will retain a significant minority stake in the acquired operations.

"This is an attractive opportunity to acquire leading positions in both the beef and pork processing industries, to partner with ConAgra Foods--which acquired International Home Foods from us in a $2.9 billion transaction two years ago--and to team up with Booth Creek Management, an experienced operator in the meatpacking and value-added processing industry," said John R. Muse, a partner of HMTF. "We look forward to working with George Gillett and his colleagues at Booth Creek Management, as well as with ConAgra Meats Company President John Simons, who will be named CEO of Swift & Company, and the team he has assembled since he joined the company in 1999, to further optimize the performance and build the value of these outstanding operations."
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