Smithfield Foods Inc. should consider breaking itself up rather than proceeding with a planned $4.7 billion takeover by a Chinese meat company, says Starboard Value LP, a large shareholder of Smithfield, Reuters reported.

The activist shareholder, which disclosed a 5.7 percent stake in the company on Monday, said Smithfield might be worth "well in excess" of the $34 per share offered by Shuanghui International if it split into hog production, pork and international units and shopped the businesses separately.


Smithfield, the world's largest pork processor, operates Iowa processing plants at Carroll, Mason City and Sioux Center. 


Starboard said in a letter dated June 17 to Smithfield's board that its sum-of-the-parts valuation was between $44 and $55 per share.


Officials from Smithfield and Shuanghui were not immediately available to comment. The Starboard letter was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal .


Starboard's call for a breakup echoed an earlier one from investor Continental Grain Co., which later dropped its demand after Shuanghui made a deal to buy the hog farmer and pork processor.

The planned purchase by Shuanghui would be the largest by a Chinese company of a U.S. firm to date.