Chiquita Delays Merger Vote, Will Talk With Possible Brazilian Buyer

(The Charlotte Observer/MCT) -

Chiquita Brands International announced Monday that a vote on a possible merger of the Charlotte, N.C.-based company with an Irish produce firm has been delayed so Chiquita can discuss another possible deal with a Brazilian group.

Chiquita officials said a special shareholders’ meeting scheduled Sept. 17 in Charlotte had been postponed until Oct. 3. That meeting had been called for a vote on the possible merger with the Irish produce company Fyffes.

The announcement comes a few days after two influential shareholder-advisory groups recommended that Chiquita shareholders vote against the merger.

Chiquita officials also said Fyffes had given the Charlotte company permission to “engage in discussions” with the Cutrale/Safra Group, a Brazilian organization that is pursuing a cash buyout of Chiquita.

The shareholder-advisory groups — Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co. — had urged Chiquita investors to vote against the merger. They said Chiquita’s share price had declined since details of the possible merger had been announced.

In the announcement Monday, Chiquita officials said, “Chiquita has sent a letter to Cutrale/Safra indicating its willingness to offer to Cutrale/Safra the opportunity to conduct focused due diligence and present its final and best offer.”