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Oct 27, 2014 9:28 AM

Chiquita OKs $681M deal with 2 Brazilian bidders

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) Chiquita Brands International Inc. has agreed to sell itself to two Brazilian companies for approximately $681 million. The deal comes just days after the fresh produce company's shareholders rejected plans to merge with Irish fruit importer Fyffes.

Chiquita said Monday that it will be acquired by the investment firm Safra Group and the juice company Cutrale Group for $14.50 per share, a 2 percent premium to its Friday closing price of $14.16.

The companies put the transaction's value at about $1.3 billion, including the assumption of Chiquita's debt.

Chiquita's board unanimously approved the deal, which is targeted to close by the end of the year or in early 2015. Chiquita will become a subsidiary of the Cutrale-Safra group once the transaction is complete.

On Friday Chiquita and Fyffes PLC gave notice to terminate their proposed merger agreement after Chiquita's stockholders didn't approve a revised transaction agreement between the two companies during a special shareholders meeting. The proposed agreement with Fyffes was an all-stock deal, with the companies planning to incorporate in Dublin to take advantage of lower tax rates. Chiquita is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Once Chiquita's shareholders rejected the proposed deal with Fyffes, Chiquita said that it planned to enter talks with Safra and Cutrale on their competing offer of $681 million. Chiquita had received the $681 million bid from the pair last week after previously rejecting offers from the duo. The prior offer from Safra and Cutrale was $14 per share. They had bid $13 per share in August.

Shares of Chiquita added 21 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $14.37 in morning trading. Its shares have risen more than 40 percent in the last three months.


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