NEW YORK – Chiquita Brands has received a buyout offer worth about $611 million from investment firm Safra Group and the Brazilian agribusiness and juice company Cutrale Group.
Safra and Cutrale are offering $13 per share, a 29 percent premium to Chiquita Brands International Inc.’s closing price of $10.06 on Friday. Chiquita said its board would review it and asked shareholders to await its recommendation.
The unsolicited bid disclosed Monday comes as Chiquita and Fyffes of Ireland were working on their own transaction. The two companies agreed in March to merge in a stock-for-stock deal to create the world’s biggest banana supplier. If a transaction were to occur between Chiquita and Fyffes, Chiquita’s headquarters would move from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Dublin, a more tax-efficient corporate base.
In a letter sent to Chiquita President and CEO Edward Lonergan and Chairwoman Kerrii Anderson, Safra and Cutrale said they believe their proposed transaction doesn’t have the same execution risk and uncertainty that a deal with Fyffes does. The companies also said they think their offer gives more value to Chiquita shareholders and could be completed before year’s end.
Safra and Cutrale said they would like to hear back from Chiquita on their offer by noon Friday.
In a statement, Chiquita Brands said its board would “carefully review and consider the offer to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.”
In addition to being a major banana distributor, Chiquita Brands markets and distributes pineapples, packaged salads and other fresh produce.