Cargill, Continental Grain Company, and Sanderson Farms have reached a definitive agreement for a joint venture between Cargill and Continental Grain to acquire Sanderson Farms for $203 per share in cash, representing a total equity value for Sanderson Farms of $4.53 billion. The purchase price represents a 30.3% premium to Sanderson Farms’ unaffected share price of $155.74 on June 18, 2021, the last full trading day prior to media speculation about the potential sale of Sanderson Farms; a 22.8% premium to the Sanderson Farms 30-day volume weighted average price as of June 18, 2021, and a 15.2% premium to the all-time high share price as of June 18, 2021. Upon completion of the transaction, Cargill and Continental Grain will combine Sanderson Farms with Wayne Farms, a subsidiary of Continental Grain, to form a new, privately held poultry business.
The combination of Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms will create a best-in-class U.S. poultry company with a high-quality asset base, complementary operating cultures, and an industry-leading management team and workforce. The new company will be well positioned to enhance its service to customers across retail and food service and drive organic growth in an industry fueled by affordability and key consumer trends around the health, sustainability, and versatility of chicken.
“Since my grandfather founded Sanderson Farms 75 years ago, our many significant achievements have been driven by our commitment to providing the very best chicken products in a profitable manner that benefits each of the constituents who contribute to our success. This transaction is the culmination of that commitment, as it delivers a significant value to our stockholders, reflecting the dedication of our team, and our best-in-class assets, quality products, efficient and sustainable operations, and respected brand,” said Joe Sanderson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sanderson Farms, Inc. “We are proud to be joining with Cargill and Continental Grain and we are confident that they will be strong stewards of the Sanderson Farms team, brand and assets going forward. As part of the newly created company, Sanderson Farms and its new owners will remain committed to the employees, poultry producers, customers, communities, environment, and animals under our care, and to continuing to deliver the highest quality products and the best service in our industry to our customers.”
“We are very happy to partner with Cargill with whom we have had a decades-long relationship between two family-owned companies. Sanderson Farms’ operations, best-in-class assets and valuable brand have underscored their success, and we have the highest respect for Joe Sanderson, and the business and team he has built as the third generation CEO,” said Paul Fribourg, Chairman and CEO of Continental Grain. “Wayne Farms has been one of the most important and successful parts of Continental Grain for almost 60 years, so bringing together two great partners with two great poultry companies will ensure good things for our customers, our grower partners, and our employees.”
The new company will have state-of-the-art operations and will continue to invest in its workforce and in employee safety. Operations will include poultry processing plants and prepared foods plants across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas.
“At Cargill, we are committed to nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” said David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO of Cargill. “Expanding our poultry offerings to the U.S. is a key enabler of our ability to meet customer and consumer demands. With these great businesses, and our strong partnership, we believe we will deliver a superior portfolio of products and services to our customers.”
Cargill expects to support the new joint venture with its longstanding relationships with retail and foodservice customers. Wayne Farms, part of Continental Grain’s food, agriculture and commodities investment portfolio since 1965, has roots in the poultry industry that go back more than a century.
Partnering with Farmers and Communities
Cargill, Continental Grain, and Sanderson Farms are committed to ensuring operational excellence, workplace safety, and the highest quality of product for the U.S. poultry industry.
Cargill and Continental Grain have long histories of investing and partnering with American farmers and are dedicated to strengthening the food and agriculture industries for the benefit of consumers and growers. Their shared culture, built on the principles of supporting farmers and communities, complements Sanderson Farms’ reputation as one of the industry’s most respected operators. Sanderson Farms’ strong brand, reputation, and best-in-class assets will remain a core part of the combined company. In addition, Wayne Farms’ deep customer relationships across the food service sector complement Sanderson Farms’ diverse grocery and retail relationships.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021 or early 2022, and will be subject to regulatory and Sanderson Farms stockholder approval, and other customary closing conditions.
The acquisition consortium has committed equity and debt financing in place to complete the transaction.
Wayne Farms CEO Clint Rivers will lead the combined company.
Upon the completion of the transaction, Sanderson Farms will become a private company, and its shares will no longer be traded on NASDAQ.
BofA Securities acted as the financial advisor to Cargill and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (US) LLP acted as legal counsel. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher acted as tax counsel.
Centerview Partners LLC acted as financial advisor to Sanderson Farms and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Fishman Haygood LLP acted as legal counsel.
Lazard acted as the financial advisor for Wayne Farms and Continental Grain, and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as legal counsel.
About Sanderson Farms
Sanderson Farms, Inc. is engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh, frozen and minimally prepared chicken. Its shares trade on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol SAFM.
Cargill’s 155,000 employees across 70 countries work relentlessly to achieve our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Every day, we connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. We combine 156 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Side-by-side, we are building a stronger, sustainable future for agriculture.
About Continental Grain Company
Conti is a privately owned global investor, owner and operator of companies with more than 200 years of history across the food and agribusiness spectrum. It creates long‐term value by applying deep industry knowledge, capital and talent to businesses ranging from established market leaders to promising innovators.
Conti builds platforms that leverage its strategic expertise in food production, processing, and distribution to source proprietary deals, working alongside trusted partners and supporting strong management teams. It brings a long‐term ownership mindset, concentrating on investment and operating plans that create enduring value and a sustainable, efficient and nutritional food supply chain. Conti brings people, ideas and resources together to build the businesses that will feed the world.
About Wayne Farms
Wayne Farms LLC is a vertically integrated U.S. poultry producer. A subsidiary of Continental Grain Company, Wayne Farms owns and operates fresh and further-processed facilities throughout the Southeast, and employs more than 9,000 individuals. Producing products under the brand names of WAYNE FARMS® fresh and prepared chicken; PLATINUM HARVEST premium fresh chicken; CHEF’S CRAFT gourmet chicken; NAKED TRUTH premium chicken; and LADYBIRD premium chicken, Wayne Farms has a well-known history of operating humane, safe, industry-leading poultry processing facilities and delivering exceptional products to some of the largest industrial, institutional, and foodservice companies across the globe.