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Brazilian Bid for Chiquita Challenges Big Banana Merger

The unsolicited offer challenged Chiquita's merger with Fyffes announced in March, which would create the world's largest banana company.

NEW YORK - Two Brazilian companies made a $611 million offer for U.S. banana giant Chiquita Monday that could derail Chiquita's merger with European rival Fyffes.

Cutrale Group, one of Brazil's largest juice exporters, and investment bank Safra Group offered $13 a share for all of Chiquita's stock, 29% higher than the shares traded on Friday.

The two said that they could bring Chiquita "extensive experience in all aspects of the fruit and juice value chain," and offered its shareholders "superior valuation" to where the company's stock has been trading.

The unsolicited offer challenged Chiquita's merger with Fyffes announced in March, which would create the world's largest banana company, with $4.6 billion in annual revenues. That proposal would allow Chiquita to avoid higher U.S. taxes by relocating its statutory headquarters to Ireland.

The all-stock deal between Chiquita and Fyffes was to be weighed by shareholders in a special meeting Sept. 17.

But the offer by the Brazilian companies could challenge the merger. The two said their proposal "is clearly more favorable to the Chiquita shareholders than the proposed merger with Fyffes" and so the Chiquita board was obliged to take it up.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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