NEW YORK — Hillshire Brands says it will hold separate talks with Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods, as the two meat processing heavyweights engage in a bidding war for the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs.
The announcement by Hillshire comes a day after Pilgrim’s Pride raised its bid to $55 per share, or $6.8 billion, from $45 per share. That tops Tyson’s offer of $50 per share, or $6.2 billion, last week.
The takeover bids by Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods are being driven by the desirability of brand-name, convenience products like Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches. Those types of products are more profitable than fresh meat, such as chicken breasts, where there isn’t as much wiggle room to pad prices.
Both offers are contingent on Hillshire abandoning its plan to acquire Pinnacle Foods Inc., which makes Birds Eye frozen vegetables and Wish-Bone salad dressings. Some investors had questioned the wisdom of that deal, given the outdated image of some of Pinnacle’s brands and the differences in the two companies’ product portfolios.