Pork King Smithfield Foods Bought By Shuanghui International

Despite a movement against big food companies, two of the world's largest food processors are joining forces; Smithfield Foods and Shuanghui International announced today that they have entered a merger agreement.

Shuanghui, which produces more than 2.7 million tons of meat a year, will be buying Smithfield Foods for about $4.7 billion, or $34 a share. The merger values the company at $7.1 billion, a press release says.

Smithfield, which owns Armour, Weight Watchers Foods, and the Paula Deen Collection (not to mention supplies pork to McDonald's, i.e. The McRib), has been targeted in the past by PETA and other animal rights organizations for mistreatment of animals. The company has, however, claimed that it is on track to phasing out gestation crates by 2017.

The merger reportedly will not affect business stateside. "It will be business as usual — only better — at Smithfield," C. Larry Pope, CEO at Smithfield said in a press release. "We do not anticipate any changes in how we do business operationally in the United States and throughout the world... With our shared expertise and leadership, we look forward to accelerating a global expansion strategy as part of Shuanghui."

Pope will remain on as CEO, CNN reports, and business will be unchanged; factories will not close. The merger, however, will allow Smithfield to expand its products abroad.

"The acquisition provides Smithfield the opportunity to expand its offering of products to China through Shuanghui's distribution network," Shuanghui chairman Wan Long said in a press release. The deal is expected to close the second half of this year.