Agribrands

(AGX) - Get Report

, an animal feed company, said it has broken off a merger deal with

Ralcorp

( RAH) and instead will be bought by privately-held

Cargill

.

According to the deal, agricultural giant Cargill will pay $54.50 a share in cash for all of St. Louis-based Agribrands' common stock. Agribrands is permitted to actively solicit other bids for 30 days.

Cargill's $54.50 offer represents a premium of 24.4% over Agribrands' trading price on Dec. 1, and a premium of 50.3% over Agribrands' trading price on Aug. 7, the day prior to its announcement of the Ralcorp Merger.

Shares of Agribrands closed at $43.81 Friday's on the

New York Stock Exchange

.

Agribrands, which has paid a $5 million termination fee to Ralcorp, said the agreement with Cargill includes a $10 million termination fee. The agreement is expected to close sometime in April 2001 and has been approved by Agribrands' board of directors on the recommendation of a committee of its independent directors.