UPDATE 3-Cutrale-Safra unveil 'definitive,' sweetened bid for Chiquita

miércoles 15 de octubre de 2014 18:14 GYT

(Adds closing share price in paragraph 6)

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO Oct 15 (Reuters) - Juice maker Grupo Cutrale and investment firm Safra Group on Wednesday unveiled a definitive offer to acquire Chiquita Brands International Inc, in a new attempt to scuttle the U.S.-based company's plans to combine with Irish rival Fyffes Plc.

Cutrale-Safra is offering $14 in cash per Chiquita share, valuing the company at $658 million, or 12.4 times annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Cutrale-Safra had initially bid $13 per Chiquita share in an unsolicited proposal presented on Aug. 11.

A successful bid would turn billionaires Joseph Safra and José Luis Cutrale into the global kings of breakfast by expanding their share of the world's tropical fruits market and their negotiating clout with supermarkets. Chiquita and Fyffes agreed to merge in April to create the world's biggest banana supplier.

Cutrale-Safra's definitive offer represents premiums of about 40 percent to Chiquita's Aug. 8 closing share price and 19 percent to Chiquita's price based on revamped terms of the tie-up with Fyffes. Both companies will pay for Chiquita with equity from some of their subsidiaries, with Safra-controlled bank J. Safra Sarasin AG extending a buyback of Chiquita's senior secured notes due in 2021.

"Unlike the proposed combination with Fyffes, the superior Cutrale-Safra offer provides Chiquita shareholders complete certainty with respect to the value of their investment," the consortium said in a statement.

Chiquita jumped 5.1 percent to $13.83 in New York, extending gains to 36 percent since Cutrale-Safra unveiled their proposal. Fyffes shed 1.7 percent to 0.985 euros.

Shares of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based fruit producer have shed two-thirds of their value over the past decade in the wake of geopolitical instability in Latin America, price volatility and uneven demand for fresh produce around the world. Chiquita, Fyffes, Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc and Dole Food Co control the $7 billion banana market.   Continuación...