Thursday 17 January 2019

Analysis: Total Produce dispels Fyffes-Chiquita shadow with deal

Total Produce's Carl McCann
Total Produce's Carl McCann
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The shadow cast by a planned 2014 transaction that would have seen Total Produce's then sister firm, Fyffes, merge with US banana giant Chiquita, must surely have entered the minds of executives in Dublin as they prepared the paperwork for the Dole deal.

But for Total Produce, this is very different.

There are no pesky shareholders on the Dole side who could derail the whole thing: Dole is owned and controlled by just one person, David Murdock.

Fyffes, in which in the McCann family had about a 12pc stake, thought it was all but done and dusted when it agreed a $1bn merger with US firm Chiquita four years ago.

But the deal hit the skids after Brazilian firms Cutrale and Safra muscled in with a higher offer.

That offer was ultimately accepted by Chiquita shareholders.

Fyffes was sold in 2017 for €751m to Japan's Sumitomo group.

Given Mr Mudock's age, it's natural to assume he felt a need to do his own deal before Father Time has a say.

But Carl McCann said Mr Murdock remains keenly involved in the business.

"We've very pleased, flattered and honoured that he chose us," Mr McCann told the Irish Independent. "David's a remarkable man. He's 94, and he's in remarkably good shape.

"He's energetic, very determined and always has been. He isn't your typical person of 94. He's quite an amazing fellow."

The deal with Dole also dovetails with Total Produce's consistent expansion in recent years in North America as it sought to diversify its geographic reach and revenue base. In 2016, 81pc of Total Produce's revenue was generated in Europe.

That could radically change in years to come.

Irish Independent

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