Dole Forms Committee, Hires Lazard to Review Murdock Bid

Dole Food Co. formed a special committee of board directors to review a $645 million buyout offer for the fresh fruit and vegetable producer from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David H. Murdock.

The committee hired Lazard Ltd. as financial adviser and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP as its legal counsel, Westlake Village, California-based Dole said in a statement today. The committee comprises the board’s four independent directors and Andrew J. Conrad will be its chairman.

Murdock, 90, who took over as CEO in February, is reprising his 2003 role in taking the company private with his June 11 offer to buy out other shareholders. Murdock proposes paying $12 a share for the 60 percent stake in Dole that he and his family don’t already own, an 18 percent premium to the company’s closing price the day prior to the offer.

Dole rose 0.2 percent to $12.80 in New York.

Murdock said June 11 he hired Deutsche Bank AG to advise on the deal and that he received a “highly confident” letter from the bank regarding financing for the bid.

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