Cutrale and Safra, the two Brazilian companies seeking to acquire Chiquita Brands International, have entered into a confidentiality agreement with the US fruit multinational, it has been confirmed.
The news follows Chiquita’s decision to postpone until early October a special shareholder meeting originally scheduled for mid-September, at which it was expected that investors would vote on the proposed merger of Chiquita with Irish importer Fyffes.
In a joint statement, Cutrale-Safra said that while it was not itself required to meet any kind of deadline as far as the re-scheduled meeting was concerned, it had undertaken to “use its best efforts” to complete its due diligence and present its own definitive counter-offer “as expeditiously as possible” for Chiquita’s consideration.
Chiquita is bound by the rules of the US Securities & Exchange Commission to make changes to the official documents it has sent to shareholders regarding the ChiquitaFyffes deal, enabling them to assess the potential of Cutrale-Safra’s own proposal.
In the meantime, Cutrale-Safra has said it will not ask shareholders at their 3 October meeting to vote on Chiquita entering into new negotiations, but would instead seek to garner support for the decision-making process on ChiquitaFyffes to be adjourned, either for 14 days or 21 days.
Cutrale of Brazil is the largest player in the global orange juice market and has enormous citrus plantations in the state of São Paulo.
It also exports a large volume of fresh oranges, packing them in Araraquara and exporting them under the Cutrale and Don Jose labels.
Its customers in Europe include another Irish-owned importer Total Produce, whose Dutch unit Total Produce BV sells the fruit mainly to retailers.