Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brazil/US: Brazil's Cutrale-Safra Purchases US-Based Chiquita Brands for US$1.3 Billion

According to The Latin American Tribune, Chiquita Brands International Inc. said Monday (October 27) it reached an agreement to be acquired by Brazilian consortium Cutrale-Safra for $1.3 billion.

Chiquita shareholders rejected a proposed merger last Friday (October 24) with Irish tropical produce importer and distributor Fyffes and opted to enter talks with Cutrale-Safra on a deal.

Cutrale-Safra sweetened its offer for the Charlotte, NC-based banana company last week, raising its initial $13 per share cash bid to $14.50 and valuing Chiquita at some $681 million.

“We are pleased to make this long-term investment in Chiquita, one of the leading fresh produce companies in the world.

It has impressive brand loyalty and recognition through its Chiquita and Fresh Express brands, providing the company with a strong competitive edge in the growing worldwide demand for high-quality fresh fruits and salads,” Cutrale-Safra said.

“This transaction demonstrates our board’s commitment to maximizing shareholder value and underscores the significant progress Chiquita has achieved over the past couple of years in our financial and operational performance,” Chiquita’s CEO Ed Lonergan said.

COMMENT: Chiquita has operations in nearly 70 countries and employs approximately 20,000 people.

The deal, which was unanimously approved by Chiquita’s board, is expected to close at the end of this year or in early 2015, when Chiquita will become a unit of Cutrale-Safra and move its headquarters to New Jersey.

“We look forward to working with Cutrale-Safra to ensure a smooth transition and complete the transaction as expeditiously as possible,” Lonergan said in a statement.

Chiquita and Dublin-based Fyffes had been negotiating since March to structure a deal that would have created the world’s largest banana producer.

“The $14.50 per share consideration to be received by Chiquita shareholders represents a 33.8% premium to Chiquita’s closing price on March 7, 2014, the last trading day prior to the announcement of Chiquita’s transaction with Fyffes plc.,” Chiquita said.

Cutrale-Safra steadily improved its all-cash takeover offer for Chiquita since submitting an initial bid of $13 a share in August.

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