When Don Tyson died earlier Thursday, so did the majority voice in the Tyson Limited Partnership that controlled Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc. — one of the world’s largest meat processing, distribution and sales operations.

Tyson Foods officials issued a statement later Thursday to inform shareholders and Wall Street about succession plans for the Tyson Limited Partnership (TLP).

Tyson Foods President and CEO Donnie Smith said the the Tyson Limited Partnership will maintain control of the company and various trustees will manage it.

“With his death, the TLP will maintain effective control of Tyson Foods, Inc., with management of the TLP residing with a small group of Tyson family members, former Tyson executives, and trusted confidants of Don Tyson,” Smith noted in a statement.

John Tyson, the son of Don Tyson and chairman of the Tyson board of directors, said the company has had a financial successful year and has a “strong” executive group in charge.

"The current leadership of our company, from Donnie Smith and Jim Lochner on down, has the total support of me and the other Tyson board members as well as all those associated with the Tyson Limited Partnership," John Tyson said. “An era has passed, but Tyson Foods and the Tyson family remain committed to the city of Springdale where our corporate headquarters is located, all our plant communities and other stakeholders.”

According to the Tyson Foods statement, the TLP owns 70 million shares of the class B shares and 3 million class A shares.

“Unless and until a new managing general partner of the TLP is chosen, these shares will be voted by a majority vote of the percentage interests of the general partners of the TLP,” noted the statement.

The ownership information and status is as follows (based on the Tyson statement):


• The Tyson Partnership Interest (TPI) Trust with 44.44% of the general partner interests in the TLP. The trustees of the TPI Trust are Leland Tollett, Harry C. Erwin, III, and Thomas B. Schueck. The TPI Trust terminates Dec. 31, 2016. Upon termination of the TPI Trust, the general partnership interest held by the TPI Trust will transfer to the Donald J. Tyson Revocable Trust whose trustees are Thomas B. Schueck, Harry C. Erwin III and John Tyson.

John Tyson with 33.33% of the general partner interests in the TLP.

Barbara Tyson with 11.115% of the general partner interests in the TLP.

Harry C. Erwin, III with 11.115% of the general partner interests in the TLP.

According to a Jan. 6 filing by Tyson Foods with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, the TLP terminates Dec. 31, 2040.

The Tyson 2009 Family Trust continues to hold a 53.4881% interest as a limited partner in the TLP and the Randal W. Tyson Testamentary Trust continues to hold a 45.2549% interest as a limited partner in the TLP, according to Tyson Foods.

Leland Tollett is the retired chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods who worked with Don Tyson from 1959 until he retired in 1998 and served on the company’s board from 1984 until 2008. He also came back and served as Interim president and CEO for 10 months in 2009.

Harry Erwin III, is the managing partner of Erwin & Company, a Little Rock-based accounting firm that has performed consulting and tax related services for the Tyson family and Tyson Foods for many years.

Thomas B. Schueck
is the chairman and CEO of Little Rock-based Lexicon, a steel fabrication, engineering and construction company.


Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, is the author of this post. He can be reached by email at mtilley@thecitywire.com.

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