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Tyson Foods sold its stake in alternative protein company Beyond Meat

Key Points
  • Tyson Foods sold its stake in the alternative protein company Beyond Meat, which is expected to go public next week at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
  • Relations between the two companies had been uneasy, particularly after Tyson CEO, Noel White, announced that the company will be creating its own plant-based protein products last February, Axios reported. 
  • It remains unclear who the buyer is or what the sale price was.
Packages of Beyond Meat Inc. beef crumbles are displayed for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tyson Foods sold its stake in Beyond Meat, an alternative protein company, set to go public next week.

Relations between the two companies had become tense, particularly after Tyson CEO, Noel White, announced that the company will be creating its own plant-based protein products last February, multiple sources confirmed to Axios.

Reportedly, Beyond Meat no longer wanted the Tyson Ventures representative to attend its board meetings, despite his attendance being a contractual right.

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A part of the deterioration of the relationship was due to fear of competition between the two companies; Tyson was interested in the alternative protein market especially after seeing its quick-serve and broader restaurant sector potential, Axios reported. The other concern was that Tyson would interfere with potential mergers or acquisitions, yet the nature of the interference is unclear, the report said.

Tyson Foods confirmed the sale in a statement to CNBC.

"Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit its investment. Beyond Meat provided an early opportunity for Tyson Ventures to invest in plant-based protein products that many consumers are seeking. We wish the leadership of Beyond Meat all the best," the statement said.

"Tyson Foods continues to be committed to providing alternative protein as a choice for consumers and recently announced the creation of a new business focused on combining our creativity, scale and resources to make great tasting protein alternatives more accessible for everyone. We plan to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer," the statement added.

It remains unclear who the buyer is or what the sale price was as there ceases to be a new shareholder with a 5% stake in the company. It is also not known whether Tyson decided to sell its stake on its own or whether it was at Beyond Meat's request.

Tyson Foods was still listed on an April 15 amended IPO filing, but did not appear on the filing submitted on Monday, according to Axios.

Having invested a total of $34 million between 2016 and 2017, Tyson Foods had a 6.5% ownership stake in Beyond Meat last November when the latter filed for its IPO.

On Monday, Beyond Meat said it was hoping to raise $183.8 million in its debut, which would give it a valuation of $1.21 billion. At that valuation, Tyson's stake would have been worth just under $79 million.

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