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Tyson Foods Inc.

Founded in 1935 by John Tyson, Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale is the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork. Tyson went public in 1963 and grew its business on the sale of chicken products. In 1989, it nearly doubled its market share with the purchase of Holly Farms.

But it was Tyson’s 2001 purchase of IBP Inc., then the country’s No. 1 beef and pork company, that catapulted the company to greater heights. The $4.6 billion deal put Tyson among the nation’s largest companies and made beef, not chicken, the biggest portion of its business.

In mid-2006, John Tyson stepped down as CEO and turned over company reigns to Richard L. Bond. John Tyson remains chairman.

In 2007, Tyson announced the formation of a 50-50 partnership with Syntroleum Corp. of Tulsa to produce synthetic fuel from refined pork, beef and chicken products. The company in June 2008 purchased 51 percent of Mumbai, India-based Godrej Foods Inc., a subsidiary of Godrej Agrovet Ltd. The new venture was called Godrej Tyson Foods.

In 2009, Tyson Foods announced the departure of Bond, as the company struggled with the recession and higher grain costs. Former CEO Leland Tollett took over as interim CEO.

In November 2009, Tyson Foods named Donnie Smith, its senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods, as its next president and CEO. In January 2011, Don Tyson, its former chairman and CEO and son of its founder, died of cancer at age 80.

The company has about 24,400 employees in Arkansas in 115,000 people worldwide. It had $28.4 billion in sales in fiscal 2011.

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