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Identity Swap for Smithfield's New Chinese Boss

In March 2011, the company admitted selling meat products from pigs fed the illegal, growth-enhancing drug clenbuterol. China's state broadcaster CCTV exposed the case, forcing company CEO Wan Long to publicly apologize with a humiliating bow to media cameras.

Wan, who has managed the formerly state-owned meatpacker since 1985, said in the latest press release that the name change "to WH Group reflects the increasingly global reach of our operations, which combine the largest pork production companies in China and the United States, and cater to consumers globally."

WH wants to increase U.S. pork exports to Asia, the statement said, by building "a global trading platform" and while "exploring opportunities to work with Smithfield to develop premium products for the Chinese market."

The press release also took great pains to explain the derivation of the new corporate name. WH is an abbreviation of Wanzhou Holdings, it said, and Wanzhou combines the Chinese words "wan" meaning "eternity" and "zhou" which translates "continent."

The Chinese character for "wan" used in the name Wanzhou is the same character found in Wan Long's name.

A fresh company logo complements the new name by depicting four white swirls representing the world's four major oceans separating five red areas representing the world's biggest continents, the press release explained. WH also launched a new corporate Web site.

For English speakers, obviously, the neutral-sounding name WH will be far easier to pronounce than the company's old Chinese title "Shuanghui."

The word "shuanghui" is a derivation of the expression "where two rivers meet." It refers to the company's and Wan's hometown Luohe, a Henan Province city of slaughterhouses located at the convergence of the Sha and Li rivers.

-Written by Eric Johnson in Beijing

At the time of publication the author had no position in the companies mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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