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Argentinean Empire Sold on to Russia

15 January 2009

ARGENTINA - William Hayes, a former Devon slaughterman who built up a beef empire in Argentina, has just sold his company to a Russian firm of meat traders "for a considerable sum of money".

Argentine Beef Packers, one of the last three remaining privately owned meat companies in Argentina, was sold last week, reported WestMorningNews. The deal involved ABP's main beef plants at Yaguanna, along with two farms and a feed-lot for 7,000 head of cattle, the purchaser being Agropodia, of Puerto Madero.

The price paid was said to be US$46.2 million for 51 per cent of the company. Agropodia acquired 49 per cent of the company in September 2007, so the new deal gives them total control of the company and assets. The deal means that 90 per cent of the Argentine beef industry is now in foreign ownership.

The Yaguanna plant boasts the biggest and fastest kill line in the Southern Hemisphere, with capacity of 350 cattle per hour. It occupies 44 hectares, including ten hectares of cattle pens.

The company specialises in manufacturing cows for the Russian market and contract kills 8,000 cattle per week for local wholesalers. was founded by the Hayes brothers, who began in their father's small slaughterhouse in Exbourne, near Hatherleigh in 1954, working as slaughtermen and progressing to buying livestock and wholesaling meat.

William Hayes, former Okehampton and North Tawton rugby player, will remain on the board in a non-executive capacity, still buying cattle for the new company each morning.

Mr Hayes, aged 61, has published several books on the meat trade, following the sucess of his autobigraphy "Drunk and Disorderly" which was published in 2001. As well as detailing his career in meat, it dealt in detail with his fight against alcoholism, which he won 21 years ago.

Mr Hayes moved away from Devon after the death of his first wife in a car crash in June 1969, going first to Ireland, where he established a successful meat company, then on to Australia and Argentina, where he formed ABP with his brother Bob, who died there in 2005 when he was only 59.

His daughter, Muriel, said: "ABP has a staff of nearly 2,000 and Dad knows them all by their first names. If they are in trouble they come to him."

She said he kept in touch with Roger Vick, from Hatherleigh Market and George Downs, who was the Vestey manager for South West England, as well as Graham Jasper – and regularly meets Terry Johnson, who built and sold the St Merryn Meat Company.

TheCattleSite News Desk


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