The world’s largest fruit and vegetable supplier Greenyard is in line to purchase US-based produce company Dole Food in a landmark deal worth a potential US$2.5bn.
As revealed in a Greenyard press statement and reported by Reuters, the Belgium-based group said it was in advanced negotiations to acquire what was once the world’s biggest fruit and vegetable producer.
“At this stage, a definitive agreement has not been reached, and there can be no assurance that these negotiations will culminate in a transaction between the two companies,” a spokesperson for Greenyard said.
It is understood the US$2.5bn deal being proposed would include a certain amount of debt. “Greenyard has secured appropriate financing, and is confident in its ability to complete the transaction with a balanced financing approach should a definitive agreement be reached,” the spokesperson added.
Greenyard’s current portfolio of business operations was expanded 2015, when fresh produce industry giant Univeg merged with processor Greenyard Foods and horticultural substrate specialist Peatinvest. That deal created the world’s biggest produce company, with sales of €4.25bn last year.
A majority share of just over 50 per cent of the group is owned by the Deprez family, through Deprez Holding and Food Invest International, after its recent buyout of shares owned by Belgian biotech firm Agri Investment Fund.
Looking for the exit
California-based Dole has been considering a potential initial public offering for a while, and earlier this year filed with regulators for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of up to US$100m of its common stock.
The move, which was aimed at paying off debt and other expenses, came just four years after group chairman David Murdock took the group private in a US$1.2bn deal.
However, Greenyard’s takeover proposal arguably represents a more straightforward and lucrative means for Murdock to exit the business.
Back in August, it was reported that Dole was looking to sell its corporate headquarters and close strawberry operations in a bid to improve its financial position ahead of the IPO.
It remains unclear whether Greenyard’s acquisition of the company would depend on the sale of these and other assets already earmarked for divestment being completed.