Tyson Foods Inc. plans to buy beef and pork giant IBP Inc. in a deal valued at $3.2 billion in cash and stock, both companies announced. Tyson will also assume $1.5 billion in debt. The deal was reached during the weekend and approved by a special committee of IBP directors. The transaction, which is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.

IBP officials said Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson will pay $30 a share for IBP stock in cash and Tyson stock. On Friday, Tyson had offered $27 per share, or about $2.9 billion.

Tyson and Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc. — the world's largest hog producer and processor — had been locked in a battle to gain control of IBP.

IBP, which bills itself as the world's leading producer of fresh beef and pork, employs about 50,000 people. The firm also makes prepared foods for the retail and food service industries. Tyson is the nation's largest poultry producer and has about 68,000 workers. Tyson has operations in 18 states and 15 countries and exports to 73 countries.

Tyson Foods spokesman John Lea said the purchase of IBP would triple Tyson's annual sales to an estimated $24 billion a year and make Tyson the leading poultry, beef and pork producer in the nation. Andrew P. Wolf of BB&T Capital Markets told The Associated Press last month that a Tyson-IBP merger would create a company with 30 percent of the beef market, 33 percent of the chicken market and 18 percent of the pork market. Critics in farm country have said such deals increase the concentration of food production in the hands of fewer companies.