Bacon Is Strategic

By Tony Clark, 2-Dooz Inc. – June 3, 2013 (Original Publication Date)

Two proposed acquisitions from last week suggest the unthinkable: bacon isn’t considered to be a strategic national resource. 

The Smithfield Foods and Sprint Nextel acquisitions dominated the financial headlines last week.  The proposed $20.1 billion Sprint Nextel purchase by Japan’s SoftBank would give SoftBank control over the third largest mobile carrier in the U.S. The deal is opposed by rival suitor Dish Network—citing national security concerns including the possibility of increased Chinese cyber security attacks in its case against the Japanese based company.  The concern is that SoftBank would use Chinese manufactured equipment in Sprint’s network. 

After looking into this, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. (CFIUS) has recommended that the Sprint Nextel acquisition be allowed to proceed with key conditions.  Reportedly, Sprint and SoftBank have agreed to appoint an independent security director to the Sprint board of directors, subject to U.S. government approval, and, additionally, have agreed to allow regulators to oversee network equipment purchases.  Given the strategic importance of our communications infrastructure, these conditions appear reasonable.

Regarding the other big deal in the news last week, the proposed $4.7 billion acquisition of Smithfield Foods by China's Shuanghui International would be the biggest ever acquisition of a U.S. corporation by a Chinese entity.  The purchase would give Shuanghui International control over the world’s largest pork (and bacon) producer.  And, in spite of questions regarding the national importance of our food supply, at least one news outlet reports that CFIUS is expected to approve the acquisition without any special conditions. 

Though our government apparently may feel different, bacon remains a favorite staple.  A recent survey affirmed the obvious—Americans overwhelmingly voted bacon as the best overall breakfast meat.  And, the affinity doesn’t stop there.  Another survey found that 43% of the citizens of our closest ally, Canada, prefer bacon to sex. Umm Bacon! 

Ironically, according to Delish, bacon was invented in China in 1500 BC.  The Chinese apparently have a long running love affair with the other white meat.  So, it is easy to understand why Shuanghui International is desirous of Smithfield Foods.  However, is it really too much to ask that Smithfield Foods conditionally appoint a director to ensure that all bacon loving Americans continue to have unfettered access to this national treasure?  In this case, even a technologist would have to admit that our government may have misplaced priorities:  bacon in my humble opinion is absolutely more strategic than mobile phones (tongue planted firmly in guanciale of course).

Those are my thoughts.  And, as always, I invite and look forward to learning what you think.


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