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.
: “We are pleased to make this long-term investment in Chiquita, one of the leading fresh produce companies in the world. Cutrale-Safa said in a statement to investors. "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 is committed to supporting Chiquita as it continues to build out the strength of its franchises."
"To ensure Chiquita has the premier and most sustainable platform in its sector, Chiquita will be able to access Cutrale-Safra's substantial experience in all aspects of the fruit and juice value chain and extensive financial expertise," it continued. "Chiquita will be able to take advantage of the vast knowledge of the Cutrale Group in farming, processing, technology, sourcing, distribution, logistics and marketing. Furthermore, the Safra Group's highly regarded global reputation for business and investment success, its knowledge of market conditions around the world, and its long term relationships internationally all can add value to Chiquita and further enhance its prospects. Cutrale-Safra is confident that Chiquita will have the capabilities necessary to grow its business and benefit its stakeholders, including employees, business partners, customers, distributors and suppliers. We look forward to working together with the Chiquita employees to build further on Chiquita’s success."
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.