Wednesday 19 September 2018

Watchdog delays ruling on Total stake in rival

The Irish-based fruit and vegetable distributor agreed to a number of concessions. Stock photo
The Irish-based fruit and vegetable distributor agreed to a number of concessions. Stock photo

Gretchen Friemann

The European Commission has pushed back its ruling on Total Produce's €260m purchase of a stake in US rival Dole to the end of July after the Irish-based fruit and vegetable distributor agreed to a number of concessions.

It is understood the changes are minor and will not impact the key terms of the agreement, which if approved by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, may ultimately result in the creation of a global conglomerate with combined sales of €8bn.

As reported by this newspaper, the EU competition watchdog had set July 16 as the initial deadline but recently revised that to July 30.

A spokesperson for Total declined to comment on the revised deadline or on the nature of the concessions.

The fresh produce distributor unveiled the acquisition of a 45pc slice of Dole, one of the world's top producers of bananas and pineapples, in February, and plans to tap investors for about $150m (€127m) to help fund the deal.

If the transaction receives a green light, Total and Dole's owner, 95-year old billionaire, David H Murdock, will run the company as a joint venture.

Total, a spin-out from Fyffes, and chaired by Carl McCann, has the option to fully acquire Dole in five years.

However, the US company remains saddled with US$1bn in debt and posted a net loss last year of $16m (€13.6m).

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