Marfrig Global Foods is moving forward with plans to sell its subsidiary Keystone Foods as it seeks to reduce its financial leverage after its recent acquisition of a 51-percent stake in the National Beef Packing Company for $969 million. Marfrig Global Foods purchased Keystone for $1.26 billion in 2010.  Marfrig announced plans to sell U.S.-based Keystone Foods in April.

Marfrig said five companies have qualified for the second phase of bidding.  Sources familiar with the sale said earlier that Tyson, Cargill, and Fosun International were among the interested parties.

The second phase of the sale process includes access to Keystone’s data room, meetings with the company’s executives, visits to meat processing plants in the United States and Asia, and presentation of a binding purchase agreement in June.

West Chester, Pa.-based Keystone is one of the largest international suppliers of industrialized foods to large restaurant and retail chains.   Keystone operates 19 production unites in the United States, China, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, and Australia.  These unites have the capacity to process up to 250 million birds and manufacture 580,000 tons of food annually.   Keystone supplies restaurants and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Subway, Wendy’s, and Campbell’s.