24 de septiembre de 2014 / 14:38 / en 3 años

UPDATE 2-EU to clear Chiquita, Fyffes banana deal

* Deal will create the world’s largest banana supplier

* Companies offered concessions last week to allay EU concerns

* Chiquita also talking to Cutrale, Safra on rival $611 mln bid (Adds Fyffes, Cutrale, Safra not immediately available to comment)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. company Chiquita and Irish peer Fyffes are set to secure conditional EU approval for their $526 million tie-up to create the world’s largest banana producer, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The merged company will have a 14 percent share of the $7 billion global banana market, giving it significant clout in negotiating with retailers.

Chiquita and Fyffes, which compete with Fresh Del Monte and Hawaii-founded Dole Food Company, offered concessions to the Commission last week to allay competition concerns, but did not provide details.

Industry experts say these may include an offer to sell overlapping businesses or import licences and making it easier for local ripeners to do deals with the company.

“It’s expected to be phase 1 clearance,” said one of the people, referring to the European Commission’s preliminary review.

Chiquita is also talking to Brazilian juice maker Grupo Cutrale and Safra Group, the banking and investment group, on their joint $611 million unsolicited bid. It postponed a shareholder vote on the Fyffes deal to Oct. 3 from Sept. 17.

Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani declined to comment. The European Union competition watchdog is also scheduled to decide on the deal by Oct. 3.

Fyffes was not immediately available to comment while Chiquita did not immediately reply to an email for comment.

Cutrale, which wants to expand into new markets and products to offset declining orange juice consumption worldwide, and Safra were not immediately available for comment.

Last week, they said their offer would not have attracted regulatory attention unlike the Fyffes tie-up. (Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin and Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo; editing by Keith Weir)

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