Chinese meat consumption has doubled in the last two decades. The purchase of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International Holdings is seen as a play to supply more protein to the world's second largest economy. (September 24, 2013)

[Los Angeles Times]

Chinese meat consumption has doubled in the last two decades. The purchase of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International Holdings is seen as a play to supply more protein to the world’s second largest economy. (September 24, 2013)

Shareholders of Virginia-based pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc. approved a $4.7 billion takeover by China’s Shuanghui International Tuesday, clearing the last major hurdle for a deal that would mark the largest purchase of an American company by a Chinese firm.

More than 96% of votes went in favor of the sale, which was announced in May and required federal regulatory approval.

The deal was nearly scuttled by activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP, which tried to find alternate buyers. With shareholder approval, the deal could be finalized by Thursday.

“This is a great transaction for all Smithfield stakeholders, as well as for American farmers and U.S. agriculture,” said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive of Smithfield, in a statement.  “The partnership is all about growth, and about doing more business at home and abroad. It will remain business as usual — only better — at Smithfield, and we look forward to embarking on this new chapter.”

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