Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wilson Foods Willing to Discuss Merger / with Doskocil

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wilson Foods Willing to Discuss Merger / with Doskocil

Article excerpt

"financially inadequate and highly conditional," Wilson Foods Corp. officials switched positions Tuesday and said they were willing to sit down with Doskocil Companies Inc. to discuss a friendly merger.

Doskocil is a Hutchinson, Kan., specialty meat supplier that in late July extended a $12.50 per share, $115 million offer for any and all of Wilson's 10,000,000 outstanding shares. Doskocil already owned about 9 percent of the company worth an estimated $10 million when it announced the tender offer.

Wilson board members rejected Doskocil's offer on Aug. 9, but Tuesday they apparently changed their minds after Doskocil announced it may reduce its offering price if not enough Wilson common stock is tendered to their acquisition corporation.

Wilson, after earlier pleading with shareholders not to tender any stock, said it would treat Doskocil as it is treating other companies that are interested in acquiring a piece of the Oklahoma City meat-packer.

"Consistent with discussions taking place with other interested parties," Wilson officials said in a prepared statement, "Wilson Foods today has informed Doskocil Companies Inc. that Wilson Foods is willing to meet and discuss the possibility of an improved offer that would lead to a friendly negotiated transaction."

Last week, Doskocil said it learned Wilson was negotiating with Tyson Foods of Arkansas and ConAgra of Nebraska for a sale of its Marshall, Mo., hog slaughtering plant and Wilson's subsidiary, Fischer Packing Co.

Earlier Tuesday, Doskocil officials accused Wilson's management of "playing cute little games" with Doskocil as time ran out on the tender offer.

David Smoak, Doskocil's spokesman, said his firm was considering alternatives in case not enough stock is tendered to allow Doskocil to effect a takeover of Wilson.

The offer was set to expire at midnight Tuesday, but Smoak said Tuesday afternoon that it could be extended or Doskocil may make another offer to Wilson's shareholders, but at a reduced price per share.

In over-the-counter trading Tuesday, Wilson's stock closed at $12 3/8, unchanged.

Smoak also said Tuesday that Wilson officials "walked a gray legal line" by first blocking and then delaying the release to Doskocil of Wilson's shareholder list.

Doskocil was supposed to receive it within five days of requesting it, Smoak said, but after the firm made requests last week for the list, Wilson didn't turn it over until Monday, giving the Hutchinson supplier only 24 hours to contact Wilson's shareholders. …

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