By last February, John Bekkers, the CEO of chicken producer Gold Kist Inc., must have been used to buyout offers from rival Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.

The overtures started before Gold Kist even held its initial public offering in 2004, when it transformed itself from a nonprofit cooperative of about 2,400 family farmers. Pilgrim’s Pride offered to acquire Gold Kist for an undisclosed price, according to filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission, but Bekkers declined, opting for the public markets.

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