Top Banana! World's Biggest Producer Created
A proposed deal to create the world's largest banana company will see Fyffes merge with its biggest rival, Chiquita.
Fyffes, which employs 4,000 people in the UK and Ireland alone, will be the minority stakeholder in the proposed new business - to be called ChiquitaFyffes.
The $1bn all-stock merger is subject to regulatory approval.
Ed Lonergan, Chiquita's chief executive officer, said the deal would create a strategic partnership - combining its dominance of North America with Fyffes's across Europe.
The new entity is expected to generate revenues of £2.75bn annually from the sale of more than 160 million banana boxes a year, as well as melons and pineapples.
Dublin-based Fyffes, which also sells products under the Sol brand, employs more than 12,000 people worldwide.
North Carolina-based Chiquita employs 20,000 staff.
Shareholders in Chiquita will own 50.7% of the combined business following the merger, which values Fyffes at £314.5m.
The existing brands will be retained but the companies said customers will have access to a more diverse product mix and choice.
Fyffes executive chairman David McCann, who will become chief executive of the merged business, said: "Our outstanding employees will benefit from working for a larger, more diverse business which offers opportunities for growth.
"We believe we will be able to use our joint expertise, complementary assets and geographic coverage to develop a business that can run smoothly and efficiently to better partner with our customers and suppliers."
Fyffes began trading in the 1880s when the first commercial delivery of bananas from the Canary Islands arrived in London for EW Fyffe, Son & Co.
The world's oldest fruit brand came into being in 1929 with the famous blue label and its bananas are sourced in the Tropics from countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia.