US fruit giant Chiquita has said it will merge with its Irish rival Fyffes in an all-stocks deal worth more than $1 billion. The tie-up could raise anti-trust issues as only four firms dominate the global banana market.
The merger between would create a fruit distributor with $4.6 billion (3.31 billion euros) in annual revenues, a workforce of 32,000 and a market value of more than $1 billion, the two companies announced in a statement Monday.
Chiquita shareholders would own about 50.7 percent of the combined company, to be called ChiquitaFyffes, while shareholders in Fyffes would receive the remaining 49.3 percent of the shares, they said.
The new company would be listed in New York, they added, but headquartered in Ireland for tax reasons.
"This is a milestone transaction for Chiquita and Fyffes that brings together the best of both companies," said Chiquita Chief Executive Ed Lonergan, who is to become the new firm's chairman.
Chiquita has a strong presence in North America, where it competes with global rivals Del Monte and Dole. Fyffes is the number one distributor in Europe - it had a market share of 16 percent in 2013. The combined company will have a global market share of about 14 percent, according to industry sources.
The deal could raise anti-trust concerns, given that the four major banana distributors Chiquita, Fyffes, Del Monte and Dole hold a combined global market share of more than 80 percent. Nevertheless, ChiquitaFyffes said it hoped to complete the merger before the end of this year.
uhe/ng (dpa, AFP, Reuters)