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Smithfield investor suggests breakup

Smithfield Foods has a presence in 12 countries. Above, memorabilia displayed at a restaurant in Smithfield, Va.

Amanda Lucier/The Virginian-Pilot via AP/File 2013

Smithfield Foods has a presence in 12 countries. Above, memorabilia displayed at a restaurant in Smithfield, Va.

RICHMOND — One of Smithfield Foods Inc.’s largest shareholders says a $4.72 billion takeover bid from China’s largest meat producer falls short of what the company would be worth if sold off piece by piece.

In a letter to Smithfield’s board of directors on Monday, the New York investment firm Starboard Value LP estimated the company’s value at $9 billion to $10.8 billion, or about $44 to $55 per share. Starboard owns about 5.7 percent of the common stock.

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Under the deal struck last month with Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., Smithfield would sell itself for $34 per share. The deal, which remains subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, would be the largest takeover of a US company by a Chinese firm, valued at about $7.1 billion, including debt.

In an e-mailed statement, Smithfield said it had received a letter from Starboard and will review it. The company said again that the board of Smithfield and Shuanghui had approved the merger.

Starboard managing member Jeffrey C. Smith wrote that its letter was not necessarily in opposition to the proposed sale, but added that it ‘‘would be remiss, however, to let an opportunity slip by to determine whether the company could realize even greater value for shareholders.’’

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