Cutrale, Safra Urge Chiquita Investors to Oppose Fyffes

Chiquita Brands International Inc., the U.S. owner of the namesake banana label, is facing a proxy contest after the two companies whose proposed takeover was rejected urged investors to support their bid and scrap Chiquita’s acquisition of Fyffes Plc.

The acquisition of Ireland’s Fyffes doesn’t provide “adequate value” compared with Cutrale Group and Safra Group’s $13-a-share joint offer, Cutrale and Safra said today in a preliminary proxy filing.

The Chiquita board’s “failure to enter into discussions with Cutrale-Safra and its decision to reject the superior Cutrale-Safra proposal is simply a continuation of their track record of failed strategic decisions and shareholder value destruction,” the two companies said in a separate statement.

Chiquita yesterday rejected the Aug. 11 offer from Cutrale and Safra as “inadequate” and said it wouldn’t negotiate. Cutrale, a closely held juice maker controlled by Brazil’s Jose Luis Cutrale, is partnering with banks owned by Joseph Safra, the country’s second-richest man, to buy Chiquita and cancel its purchase of Fyffes.

The pending acquisition of Fyffes, proposed in March, would create the world’s largest banana company. It also would cut Chiquita’s tax bill by relocating its headquarters to Ireland even though it’s the larger company, a process known as inversion that members of the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama want to discourage.

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