Chiquita gets new suitors in $611-million bid

Chiquita Brands International receives buy-out offer valued at roughly $611 million

Chiquita Brands International Inc. has suitors willing to pay roughly $611 million for its bananas.

The North Carolina-based fruit giant on Monday received an unsolicited acquisition offer from juice company Cutrale Group and investment firm Safra Group, a deal that would torpedo Chiquita’s pending merger with a tropical produce firm with headquarters in Ireland.

Cutrale and Safra said Monday that they proposed to purchase Chiquita for $13 per share, a 29% premium over its closing price Friday.

In a news release, Chiquita said its board of directors will "carefully review and consider the offer."

In March, Chiquita and Fyffes announced a merger that would create the world’s largest banana supplier, which would be based in Ireland. The companies have said it should close by the end of the year.

Tax inversion deals, where companies restructure abroad and avoid U.S. taxes, have drawn heavy criticism in Washington recently. Chiquita’s chief operating officer, however, has said tax considerations didn’t motivate the company to agree to the Fyffes deal.

The new offer from Cutrale and Safra sent Chiquita shares soaring Monday. Shares closed up $3.04, or 30%, to $13.10.

A spokesman for Fyffes said the company had no comment on the offer.

In a letter to Chiquita, Cutrale and Safra asked to hear back from the company by Friday. 

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