China's top butcher tries to sell U.S. on takeover

Shuanghui International's $4.7 bid for Smithfield Foods Ltd. includes unusual approach of inviting scrutiny.
BY JOE MCDONALD Modified: June 8, 2013 at 12:38 am •  Published: June 9, 2013

At an age when most Chinese executives are long retired, the country's top hog butcher is taking on a daunting new job persuading Americans to allow him to complete China's biggest takeover of a U.S. company.

Shuanghui International's $4.7 billion bid for Smithfield Foods Ltd. has the endorsement of the American company's board. But facing anxiety over food safety scandals in China and complaints about Chinese cyber spying, 72-year-old chairman Wan Long has launched a charm offensive to reassure Americans they have nothing to fear and possibly much to gain from the tie-up.

“We want to be vigilant that Smithfield's brand doesn't change, its team doesn't change, its production sites don't change, it doesn't cut jobs,” said Wan in an interview at Shuanghui's 15-story headquarters in this eastern Chinese city.

As for reassuring American consumers about quality, Smithfield “already has a very good food safety control system,” Wan said. “With our support, they will do better in quality and safety controls.”

Wan's strategy of talking to reporters and inviting them to visit Shuanghui's packing plants is an unusual approach in China, where companies are secretive and corporate bosses rarely speak in public.

As Chinese companies expand abroad, those habits have hurt some when the United States, Australia and other countries balked at acquisitions by unfamiliar buyers in oil, mining and technology industries. Shuanghui's approach appears to reflect an understanding that success requires not just money but winning over politicians and consumers.

“There are plenty of examples of Chinese companies that made the largest offer but were not ultimately accepted,” said Kenneth Jarrett, an expert on government relations for consulting firm APCO Worldwide in Shanghai. “For any Chinese company looking at any investment in the United States, they want to be aware of the political dynamic.”

Trending Now


  1. 1
    Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert signs his rookie contract with the Cleveland Browns
  2. 2
    Tulsa police believe mother, teen son planned deaths together
  3. 3
    Kevin Durant asks for your basketball videos in Summer is Serious 2
  4. 4
    Big 12 basketball: Time, TV listing announced for Sooners' December game against Washington
  5. 5
    Lawsuit: 'Duck Dynasty' stole 'camo' idea
+ show more