Dole May be Bought by Belgian Company

Dole May be Bought by Belgian Company

Dole Food Co., once the world’s largest producer of fruit and vegetables, may be acquired by a Belgian food company.

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According to a report Monday by Reuters, Belgian company Greenyard NV is exploring an acquisition of Dole, a California-based fruit and vegetable producer that could be valued at more than $2.5 billion, including debt. Greenyard NV is a global market leader in fresh and prepared fruit and vegetables.

Dole has also been considering a potential initial public offering, but a deal with Greenyard could provide a quicker avenue for Dole’s 94-year-old chairman David Murdock to cash out on his ownership of Dole.

Murdock views Greenyard’s offer as better than that of private equity firms that took an interest in Dole, according to Reuters’ sources, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. However, there is no certainty that Greenyard, which has a market capitalization of close to 900 million euros ($1.06 billion), will secure the necessary financing for a deal, or that it will agree to terms with Dole, the sources added.

Dole was taken private by Murdock in 2013 in a $1.2 billion deal following a four-year run as a publicly listed company. That deal came as Dole struggled to generate profits amid volatile demand and low prices for bananas, its highest-selling product.

More recently, Dole pulled out of the California berry deal, laying off hundreds of workers this past summer in Southern and Central California.