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Raids cost Swift up to $50M

Published May 12, 2007 12:00 am

Expenses include lost production and training to replace workers snared on immigration violations
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Swift & Co., the third-largest U.S. beef and pork producer, said federal immigration raids at the company's plants, including one in Utah, in December will cost it between $45 million and $50 million, more than previously estimated.

Swift, based in Greeley, Colo., said in January that lost production from the raids and training of replacement workers would cost about $30 million in the fiscal year through May 27. Swift said Friday in a statement that all four of its beef plants have returned to full staffing after about 950 employees were removed for immigration violations.

The workers were among about 1,300 arrested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division on Dec. 12. Closely held Swift, which wasn't charged in the investigation, said in January it might sell itself after receiving ''unsolicited inquiries.''

Swift said Wednesday it had a net loss of $48.6 million in the quarter ended Feb. 25 as restrictions tied to mad cow disease curbed overseas sales. Swift has had just one profitable quarter since November 2004, reflecting a drop in beef exports and tight supplies of slaughter-ready cattle.

Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc., National Beef Packing Co. and JBS S.A. have been identified by analysts as possible buyers for some of Swift's assets. JBS, Latin America's biggest meat producer, said Thursday it is taking part in the bidding.

Tyson Foods is the world's largest beef producer, followed by Cargill. Smithfield is the biggest U.S. pork producer.

Swift had sales of $9.35 billion in its last fiscal year, with beef sales at $5.58 billion.




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