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Total Produce buys 45% stake in Dole for $300m

Total Produce has agreed to buy a 45% stake in rival fresh produce company Dole for $300m.

Total Produce said the deal was motivated by its expectation that demand for fresh fruit and vegetables will rise strongly driven by what it calls "a structural trend towards health eating and snacking".

The company said it is raising $150m towards the cost of funding the acquisition of the stake in Dole through a placing of its shares with existing and new investors.
The deal brings together two of the world's biggest fresh produce companies, with complementary market positions in various product segments and geographies.
Total Produce said it also represents a very significant step in its history and a continuation of the company's successful expansion strategy.

"We are delighted to have signed an agreement with Dole, long held in the highest regard as one of the world's best fresh produce companies, with iconic brands dating back to 1851," commented Total Produce's chairman Carl McCann.
"I believe that this investment by Total Produce in Dole is the single most positive step in our company's history," Mr McCann said.

"It places Total Produce at the forefront of our industry, and we anticipate it will create significant additional value for shareholders in the years ahead," he added.
As part of the deal, Total Produce will share governance rights including equal board representation. David H Murdock will continue to be chairman of Dole and Carl McCann will be its vice chairman.

According to Belgian business magazine “De Tijd”, Total Produce has an option to buying all shares of Dole. For the other 55% the Irish company would pay between 562 million and 762 million Dollars. Total Produce has got 5 years in which to do this. If during that period the company does not extend their shares, David Murdock would have the right to sell these shares to a third party.

At the beginning of this year the negotiations with Greenyard and Dole ended unsuccessfully. Why these negotiations ended is still unclear. The price and some juridical dossiers were named as subjects that caused the failure of a takeover.

Dole has the number one and number three positions in bananas in North America and Europe. It also holds the number two and number three spot for pineapples in North America and Europe and is the second biggest company for fresh-cut salads in North America.

For the year to October, Dole generated revenue and adjusted EBITDA of $4.455 billion and $237m respectively.

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