Chiquita Brands International Inc. postponed a shareholder vote on its plan to buy Fyffes Plc while it seeks talks with a Brazilian group that made an unsolicited $614 million proposal to acquire Chiquita.
Chiquita has been granted a waiver by Dublin-based Fyffes to talk with Cutrale Group and Safra Group, the North Carolina-based company said today in a statement. It has also sent a letter to Cutrale and Safra offering an opportunity to conduct due diligence and make a “final and best” offer.
A planned 17 Sept. meeting for Chiquita investors to vote on the Fyffes deal has been postponed. Fyffes has proposed to adjourn a meeting of its shareholders, which also had been set for 17 Sept. Chiquita said it continues to support the Fyffes takeover, which would create the largest banana company.
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“We continue to believe that the Fyffes/Chiquita combination is highly attractive and would require a bid of in excess of $16 from Cutrale-Safra to match the economics of the merger,” David Holohan, an analyst at Merrion Capital in Dublin, said today.
Cutrale, a closely held company controlled by Brazil’s Jose Luis Cutrale, and banks owned by Joseph Safra, the country’s second-richest man, made a joint bid of $13 a share for Chiquita on 11 Aug. Their proposal would combine Chiquita with Cutrale, a company that controls more than one-third of the global orange-juice market, and kill the Fyffes deal, which had been agreed upon in March.
Proxy adviser Institutional Investor Services Inc. said 5 Sept. that Chiquita shareholders should reject the Fyffes deal and instead pursue a buyout offer from Cutrale and Safra.
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland