Chiquita on the block?

by Keith Nunes
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A juice processing and agribusiness company and an investment firm have submitted an offer to acquire Chiquita Brands in a transaction valued at approximately $630 million.

NEW YORK — The Cutrale Group, a juice processing and agribusiness company, and the Safra Group, an investment firm, are partnering to acquire Chiquita Brands, Inc. for $13 per share in cash for a transaction valued at approximately $630 million. The unsolicited offer comes at a time when Chiquita is in the process of merging with Fyffes P.L.C. in a deal the two companies agreed upon this past March.

“This proposal represents a highly compelling premium of 29% to the market's valuation of the proposed transaction with Fyffes P.L.C., based on Chiquita’s closing share price of $10.06 as of Aug.  8, 2014,” the two companies wrote in a letter to Chiquita’s board of directors. “Moreover, if we are able to proceed on a timely basis with due diligence and discussions, we will be in a position to close the transaction before the end of the year, within the same timeframe you have indicated for the Fyffes transaction, without the execution risk and uncertainty inherent in that transaction.”

Chiquita Brands confirmed receipt of the offer and said its board of directors will consider it.

On March 10, Chiquita entered into a definitive merger agreement with Fyffes under which Chiquita would combine with Fyffes in a stock-for-stock transaction. On completion, Chiquita shareholders would own approximately 50.7% of ChiquitaFyffes, and Fyffes shareholders owning approximately 49.3% of ChiquitaFyffes. The agreement would create a global banana and other fresh produce company with approximately $4.6 billion in annual revenues if completed.

“We continue to strongly believe in the strategic merits and value provided by the proposed transaction with Fyffes P.L.C.,” Chiquita said in a statement.
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