DEALTALK-Safra takes banking prowess to the fruit stand with Chiquita bid

martes 12 de agosto de 2014 16:31 GYT

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By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO Aug 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian-Lebanese financier Joseph Safra's push to diversify his $16 billion fortune out of banking and real estate is taking the world's richest banker to the fruit stand.

Safra, the youngest sibling in a family whose roots in banking go back five generations, is teaming up with orange juice baron Jose Luis Cutrale in a $611 million bid for Chiquita, a U.S.-based banana producer that could fit well into Cutrale's orange, apple, peach, lemon and soybean business.

If the unsolicited bid is successful, it would turn Safra and Cutrale, the son of Italian immigrants to Brazil, into the "global kings of breakfast," as one source with knowledge of the offer put it. That would give them more negotiating power over supermarkets.

Chiquita, which agreed in March to merge with Ireland's Fyffes Plc to create the world's biggest banana supplier, said it is reviewing the surprise bid from Safra and Cutrale, which was announced on Monday.

Known as a tough negotiator for the banking and real estate assets he buys, Safra may find it hard to convince Chiquita's board to accept the offer by the time it expires on Friday, analysts said. That is partly because potential cost savings from the deal are not immediately clear for investors.

Shares of Chiquita, which jumped 30 percent on Monday, are trading slightly above the $13-per-share bid offered by Safra and Cutrale - a sign that investors expect the price to go up.

"It's a good bid but I think Chiquita will try to get more," said the source with knowledge of the offer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "While the synergies aren't visible, Cutrale and Safra could go beyond a simple plan to diversify if they execute this deal well."   Continuación...