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Dole sells businesses to Japanese firm Itochu for $1.7 billion

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Dole Food Co., the giant fruit and vegetable seller based in Westlake Village, sold two major portions of its business to Japanese trading behemoth Itochu Corp. as it tries to pare down its operations.

The $1.7-billion cash deal involves Dole's worldwide packaged foods division and its Asia fresh produce segment.

Itochu will gain control of products including canned pineapple, fruit juice concentrate, bagged salads, frozen produce, fruit parfaits and more. The Asia fresh produce branch grows, ships and distributes the goods from farms, factories and more in the region.

Together, the businesses pulled in $2.5 billion in revenue in 2011. Itochu will get exclusive global rights to Dole's trademark on packaged foods.

The deal must still be approved by shareholders and cleared by regulators in several countries.

Though Dole has bowed out of Asia, it will still have its North American fresh vegetables operations and its fresh fruits business in North America, Latin America, Europe and Africa. Those holdings brought in $4.2 billion in revenue last year.

In a statement, Dole said it is aiming to shave $50 million in annual costs by the end of fiscal year 2013, hoping to "right-size the company" through restructuring and an effort to "realign and streamline its global personnel and corporate structure."

Dole’s shares were down 1.8%, or 25 cents, to $13.45 a share in afternoon trading in New York. Last week, when the company said it was in "advanced negotiations" with Itochu, shares soared as high as $15.19.

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