Chiquita Brands International Inc CQB.N agreed on Monday to a $682 million takeover by Brazilian juice maker Grupo Cutrale and investment firm Safra Group, with the U.S.-based banana producer going private early next year at the latest.
The acquisition is a victory for Brazilian-Lebanese financier Joseph Safra and orange juice baron Jose Luis Cutrale, who joined forces to add Chiquita to their tropical fruit business. Both tycoons fought for almost three months to win control of Chiquita, which rebuffed their three previous takeover attempts and sought to merge with rival Fyffes Plc (FFY.I).
Under terms of the accord disclosed in a statement earlier in the day, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Chiquita will become a wholly owned unit of Cutrale-Safra and remain incorporated in New Jersey once the deal is finalized. Chiquita, Fyffes, Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc (FDP.N) and Dole Food Co control the $7 billion global banana market.