NEW YORK -- Two Brazilian companies on Wednesday raised their takeover offer for US banana giant Chiquita (IW 500/286) in an attempt to woo it away from a merger with Irish fruit producer Fyffes.
Cutrale Group, a juice exporter, and investment bank Safra Group said they were offering $14 per share in cash for Chiquita Brands International, valuing the bid at $658 million.
"Unlike the proposed combination with Fyffes, the superior Cutrale-Safra offer provides Chiquita shareholders complete certainty with respect to the value of their Chiquita investment," the Brazilian companies said.
Their initial bid of $13 per share, or $611 million, on August 11 had been rejected by Chiquita as "inadequate."
Chiquita said in a statement it had received the $14 per share offer and its board of directors "will carefully review and consider the offer in light of the best interests of the company and its shareholders."
Chiquita postponed a shareholder vote on a merger with Fyffes from September to October 24 after inviting the Brazilian firms to make a counter-offer.
Chiquita shares were up 3.5% at $13.62 in early-afternoon trade in New York.
The planned merger with Ireland-based Fyffes, unveiled in March, would relocate Chiquita's tax domicile to Ireland, where corporate taxes are lower than in the United States, a so-called "tax inversion" deal that US authorities say threatens government income.
The US Treasury Department took actions on September 22 to halt a rising torrent of US companies moving their tax bases offshore to cut their tax bills.
The proposed merger of Chiquita and Fyffes to create the world's biggest producer of fruit and other fresh produce won approval from European Union competition regulators on October 3.
Copyright Agence France-Presse 2014