CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pork producer Smithfield FoodsInc said Wednesday it expects it will sell its 49percent stake in Butterball turkeys, a brand it has partiallyowned since 2006, as efforts to buy the remaining 51 percentmay be rejected.

In June, Smithfield offered to buy for about $200 millionthe 51 percent stake held by its joint-venture partner MaxwellFarms LLC, so that it could invest in and improve the business.Under the joint-venture arrangement, Maxwell can accept thepurchase offer or buy out Smithfield's share.

"At this point, what we are getting from our sources isthat we are going to be the seller, not the buyer," SmithfieldChief Executive Officer C. Larry Pope said Wednesday duringan earnings conference call.

The "buy/sell" notice period ends on Saturday, said Pope.

Officials at Maxwell Farms were unavailable for comment onWednesday, but a newspaper report in June said the NorthCarolina-based company wanted to buy Butterball. (Reporting by Bob Burgdorfer, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)