Merger Would Make Tyson No. 2 in Poultry Market

Gold Kist Inc. and Pilgrim’s Pride Inc. announced a merger on Monday that would create a company with a larger share of the poultry market than industry leader Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale.

The majority of Gold Kist’s shareholders have accepted a $1.1 billion acquisition offer, which is about $21 per share. Pilgrim’s Pride also will assume $144 million of Gold Kist’s debt.

Pilgrim’s Pride, which is based in Pittsburg, Texas, is the second-largest U.S. poultry firm, while Atlanta-based Gold Kist is the third-largest. Pilgrim’s Pride’s Arkansas operations include plants in Batesville, Clinton, De Queen, Nashville, Hope and El Dorado.

If the merger goes through, Tyson would still remain the nation’s largest meat protein company. It reported $25.55 billion in total sales in fiscal 2006, down from $26.01 billion in 2005.

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