UPDATE 1-Maple Leaf, Darling shares jump on deal for biodiesel business

Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:36am EDT
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By Rod Nickel

Aug 23 (Reuters) - Canadian food processor Maple Leaf Foods agreed to sell its rendering and biodiesel business to Darling International Inc for about C$645 million ($613.6 million) in cash, causing shares in both companies to spike on Friday.

Maple Leaf, the maker of Dempster's Bread and Klik luncheon meat, has been hit hard by low margins for hog production due to high prices of corn and wheat. It reported a surprising second-quarter loss on July 31.

The sale to Texas food waste recycling company Darling allows Maple Leaf to focus on boosting profits in selling packaged foods to consumers and effectively deploying capital, Chief Executive Officer Michael McCain said in a statement on Friday.

Darling CEO Randall Stuewe said the deal made the company North America's leading provider of rendering and recycling services.

Rothsay, Maple Leaf's rendering and biodiesel business, operates six rendering plants in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia and a biodiesel facility in Quebec.

Maple Leaf shares rose as much as 9.9 percent to C$14.72 in early trading in Toronto, while Darling jumped as much as 14.5 percent to $22.13 in New York.

The sale has pros and cons for Maple Leaf investors, said analyst Robert Gibson of Octagon Capital.   Continued...