European Commission clears Total Produce’s Dole deal

Irish fruit distributor will take 45% stake in US rival earlier than expected

The European Commission has cleared Total Produce’s €260 million investment in Dole. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The European Commission has cleared Total Produce’s €260 million investment in Dole. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The European Commission has cleared Total Produce’s €260 million investment in Dole, paving the way for the Irish fruit distributor to take a 45 per cent stake in its US rival earlier than had been expected.

On Tuesday, Total Produce said the European Commission has adopted its clearance decision for the transaction and “no further condition precedents are outstanding”.

While Europe’s approval is conditional on the divestment of Saba Fresh Cut, the Swedish bagged salad business owned by Dole, Total Produce said that this disposal “has no material impact on the strategic rationale or commercial value of the transaction”.

Last February, fresh produce company Total Produce said it had agreed to acquire a 45 per cent stake in Dole Food from David H. Murdock for $300 million (€260m).

However the deal was subject to anti-trust reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, and Total Produce said back in May that it expected it would take until year-end for the Commission to grant its approval for the deal. This approval has now been obtained earlier than had been expected, and the deal is now expected to close on Tuesday, July 31st.

Total Produce now has the option of buying Dole outright over five years, but the US group owes its banks around $1 billion, a debt that the Irish player does want to take on, chairman Carl McCann said earlier this year.

Dole has revenues of around € 3.9 billion and is the biggest banana distributor in the US, selling 140 million boxes of the fruit there every year. It also sells pineapples, other fruit and vegetables, and has leading positions in most of its markets.