Stocks Open in Retreat, Shuanghui to Buy Smithfield Foods

U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreating from a record high, on worries over global growth prospects and fears the Federal Reserve will begin to scale back its bond-buying program. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 91.76 points, or 0.60%, to 15,317.63. The S&P 500 index declined 10.40 points, or 0.63%, to 1,649.66. The Nasdaq Composite shed 18.50 points, or 0.53%, to 3,470.39.

Chinese meat processor Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. has agreed to take Smithfield Foods (SFD) private for approximately $4.72 billion. Shareholders of Smithfield, the world’s biggest pork producer, will receive $34 per share. This is a 31 percent premium to the Smithfield, Va., company’s closing stock price of $25.97 on Tuesday. The companies put the deal’s total value at about $7.1 billion, including debt.

The recession in Europe risks threatening the world’s economic recovery, a leading international body warned Wednesday. In its half- yearly update, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that protracted economic weakness in Europe “could evolve into stagnation with negative implications for the global economy.”

Student-loan company Sallie Mae (SLM) said Wednesday that it will split itself into two companies, one focused on education loan management and one working on consumer banking operations. The two companies will initially be owned by Sallie Mae’s existing shareholders. The company also said that Chief Operating Officer Jack Remondi will take over as chief executive, replacing retiring CEO Albert Lord.

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