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Chiquita Fruit Company Is Bought By Two Brazilian Firms

Chiquita, whose bananas are found in markets around the U.S., has agreed to sell itself to a coalition of two Brazilian companies.
Chiquita, whose bananas are found in markets around the U.S., has agreed to sell itself to a coalition of two Brazilian companies.

Chiquita Brands International, the banana and produce firm whose trademark blue stickers have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for decades, is being sold to two Brazilian companies in a deal valued at around $1.3 billion. The Charlotte-based company traces its roots to the 1870s, when American entrepreneurs brought bananas to U.S. consumers from the Caribbean.

The two Brazilian firms are produce and juice company Cutrale Group and the global investment conglomerate Safra Group. Chiquita's board voted to approve the deal days after its shareholders rejected a merger with a different company.

From the Charlotte Observer:

"The acquisition ends months of corporate wrangling. Chiquita had tried to fend off the Brazilians and instead merge with an Irish produce company, Fyffes. But shareholders voted down the Fyffes deal Friday, leaving Chiquita little choice but to agree to the rival takeover offer."

The deal values Chiquita's stock at $14.50 per share — a 33.8 percent premium on Chiquita's closing price when the Fyffes deal was first announced in March. The $1.3 billion value of the deal reflects nearly a 50-50 split of cash (about $680 billion) and assumed debt.

"We are pleased with the substantial value and significant all-cash premium we have delivered through this exciting agreement with the Cutrale Group and the Safra Group," Chiquita CEO Ed Lonergan said of the deal.

Chiquita's stock has risen sharply in value since the wrangling began. It's currently trading at around $14.35.

Chiquita says its annual revenues tally more than $3 billion. The company hasapproximately 20,000 workers, including several hundred in Charlotte. Today's announcement didn't mention any possible changes in the company's staffing or headquarters.

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