Fyffes to merge with Chiquita in appealing deal

 
Michael Bow
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TWO OF the world’s largest banana rivals Fyffes and Chiquita unveiled a merger yesterday to create a $1bn (£600m) banana behemoth.

US-based Chiquita and Irish-based Fyffes will come together in an all stock deal, creating a new $1.1bn company called ChiquitaFyffes listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The deal, which still requires approval from competition regulators in the US and Europe, will create the biggest banana bunch on earth and give ChiquitaFyffes 14 per cent of the $7bn global banana market. It will have combined sales of $4.6bn a year.

The deal will see Chiquita shareholders own 50.7 per cent of the combined firm with Fyffes shareholders owning 49.3 per cent under the deal terms.

“We will maintain our brands, all of which are valued by both customers and consumers,” Chiquita’s boss Ed Lonergan said. “The combined company will also be able to provide customers with a more diverse product mix and choice.”

It is understood the iconic Fyffes and Chiquita stickers which are attached to bananas are set to remain, with the ChiquitaFyffes brand used primarily in the corporate arena.

“This deal will be transformative and offer exciting opportunities for the new business,” Fyffes executive chairman David McCann said.

Lonergan is set to move to chairman of the combined group while McCann will become chief executive.

Fyffes, which was founded in the UK in the 1870s by Thomas Fyffe, is the number one distributor of bananas in Europe and fourth largest in the US.

It has a strong showing in melons and pineapples, with the fruits accounting for 12 per cent and seven per cent of its business respectively.

Chiquita is more of a pure banana company in the fruit sector, although a third of its revenues comes from salads and healthy snacks.

Fyffes employs about 12,000 workers but 9,500 of these are seasonal fruit pickers. It has UK distribution centres in Basingstoke, Portsmouth and Coventry.

BEHIND THE DEAL
LAZARD | TIM GEORGE

1 After working at Morgan Stanley for eight years he became a founding partner of global investment banking firm Greenhill & Co, which focuses on mergers and acquisitions.

2 George joined Lazard in 2011, after 14 years at Greenhill & Co, as the managing director of Lazard’s financial advisory business, where he developed a long-standing relationship with Fyffes, the oldest fruit brand in the world.

3 In his spare time Tim George is also the treasurer and a director of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York.

Also advising...

Lazard’s legal council team to Fyffes also includes Alexander Hecker and Nicholas Shott. Goldman Sachs is acting as lead financial adviser to Chiquita. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, McCann FitzGerald and Taft Stettinius & Hollister are acting as legal counsel.

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