Brazilian firms Cutrale-Safra on Thursday raised their bid for Chiquita Brands International Inc. by an additional 4% as the banana company’s shareholders prepare to vote Friday on its proposed tie-up with Irish food company Fyffes PLC.
Cutrale-Safra, a coalition of a Brazilian orange juice maker and an investment firm, raised their offer for Chiquita to $14.50 a share, up from the increased offer of $14 a share it made last week. The new bid values the company at $742 million.
Chiquita responded by saying it would carefully review the offer.
Cutrale-Safra first entered the bidding for Chiquita in August with a bid valued at $666 million, or $13 a share. Chiquita’s board has rejected both of Cutrale-Safra’s previous bids as too low.
Cutrale-Safra’s 11th-hour bid came as Chiquita continued to pursue its planned merger with Irish banana grower Fyffes, a tie-up that would create the world’s largest banana seller. The merger, announced in March, would allow Chiquita to reincorporate in Ireland. After Chiquita delayed its shareholder vote on the Fyffes deal in September and invited Cutrale-Safra to make another bid, Fyffes sweetened its side of the merger to give Chiquita a a nearly 9% greater stake in the combined company.
Earlier this week, two influential shareholder advisers came out with conflicting recommendations on the Fyffes merger vote.
Proxy-advisory firm Glass Lewis Co. recommended Chiquita shareholders vote down the company’s planned merger and consider other options, including operating as a stand-alone company, while also questioning some of the projections Chiquita’s board has given on the benefits of the Fyffes tie-up.
Meanwhile, Institutional Shareholder Services on Monday reversed its earlier recommendation and urged shareholders to vote in favor of the deal, citing the attractiveness of the sweetened Fyffes merger deal.
By Chelsey Dulaney