Brazilian Bunch Disrupt Banana Merger
Banana producer Chiquita Brands International has received a £364m buyout offer from Brazilian orange juice company Cutrale Group, in partnership with Brazilian investment firm Safra Group.
The unsolicited bid interrupts merger talks between Chiquita and Irish fruit company Fyffes.
In March, the two companies agreed to merge to create the world's largest banana supplier in a £314m deal.
The tie-up would also form a tax inversion, in which a US company bases itself abroad through a merger, lowering its tax rate and freeing up overseas cash.
Tax inversions have received publicity recently, notably in the pharmaceutical sector with the proposed Pfizer takeover of AstraZeneca.
The US Treasury last week suggested it may take action to crack down on the practice.
The surprise offer from Cutrale and Safra saw a significant reaction from the markets on Monday, as Chiquita's share price rose more than 30%.
The share price had fallen more than 10% since the Fyffes deal was announced, and the Brazilian companies cited that as a reason for bringing their offer for Chiquita now.
If successful, Cutrale and Safra would split the ownership of Chiquita equally.
The banana supplier has until Friday to respond to Cutrale and Safra's offer. If its board decides to decline, the Brazilian businesses would have the option of making a hostile takeover bid.
Chiquita would have to pay £5m to withdraw from merger talks with Fyffes.
It has said it is reviewing the offer with its advisors at Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, and has made no further comment.
Fyffes made no comment.