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Published September 10, 2010, 09:20 AM

Smithfield to sell its stake in Butterball

RICHMOND, Va. — Smithfield Foods says it's selling its stake in Butterball.

By: Michael Felberbaum, Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — Smithfield Foods says it's selling its stake in Butterball.

The nation's largest pork producer said Friday its joint venture partner Maxwell Farms will buy Smithfield's 49 percent interest in the turkey company.

Smithfield said it estimates net proceeds from the sale of about $175 million, which will be used to reduce debt. The deal is expected to take place before the end of the year.

Chief Executive C. Larry Pope says the sale was necessary for the company to execute its growth strategy.

The Smithfield, Va., company had said in June that it either needed full control of Butterball or to cash out of the venture. It had offered Maxwell Farms $200 million to buy it out from the joint turkey processing venture.

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