In a historic deal for Latin America, Brazil’s Cutrale and Safra families have today succeeded in their acquisition of US banana firm Chiquita.
The announcement came after Chiquita’s shareholders voted on Friday against a proposed merger with Irish rival Fyffes which would have created the world’s largest banana company.
At US$14.50 a share, Cutrale-Safra will pay about US$1.3 billion for control of the company, including the assumption of Chiquita’s net debt.
Chiquita said in a statement that the deal “combines Chiquita, one of the leading fresh produce companies, with Cutrale Group, one of the world’s most highly regarded agribusiness and juice companies, and the Safra Group, a leading global financial services firm with a strong track record of successful investments.”
With annual revenues of more than $3 billion, Chiquita employs approximately 20,000 people and has operations in nearly 70 countries worldwide.
The Chiquita statement can be read here.
Concern over EU restrictions on organic banana imports
The 11th International Banana Forum begins tomorrow in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with the theme “Towards increased competitiveness and productivity.”
The three-day event will see evaluation of the outlook for the sector next year and options for eradication of the leaf-spot disease Black Sigatoka, among other key issues.
While it’s a generally a good moment for the banana sector, Eduardo Ledesma, executive director of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE), recently told the digital channel VITOTVO he sees two major challenges.
One is Fusarium wilt (Panama disease), which has decimated thousands of hectares in Asia, Africa and Australia, and the other is the EU restrictions on marketing of organic bananas treated with mineral oil, due to health concerns.
Ledesma said a big investment is needed to develop an oil that can be registered in export markets and used for both conventional and organic crops. Such an investment is unlikely to be made by the government but would be possible for the private sector, which could recoup its costs in countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica, which use more such oils than Ecuador, he said.
The banana forum, which runs from October 14-16, is set to receive more than 3,000 domestic and foreign visitors.
Click here for more information.
France has yet to pay damages for the multi million dollar loss of a banana shipment in September last year in a bungled drug raid on the Swedish reefer Stina.
Nearly 216,000 boxes of Colombian bananas are said to have been aboard the vessel when it was allegedly intercepted by the French Navy in international waters and made to go to French outpost Martinique Island.
It’s been reported the French thought they were making a massive narcotics bust – after a tip-off by US authorities about cocaine being smuggled in the cargo – but no drugs were found. The fiasco saw the bananas, which had been destined for Algeria, unloaded in high heat for inspection and later destroyed, something now subject to a US $2.7 million damages claim.
According to banana news source Sopisco News, the MV Stina, flying a Barbados flag and belonging to the Stina Shipping Company, was represented by the agents Holy House Shipping of Stockholm-Sweden. “Star Fruit Company based in Algeria, one of the largest fruit traders of the Northern African country, and Tagholm Overseas Company based in Tortola – British Virgin Islands had reached a commercial agreement with Banana International Corporation, a company represented by Banacol, a Colombian company based in Medellin, and for this they chartered the vessel to transport the cargo to Algeria,” Sopisco News reported.
“Almost a year since the unfortunate event, the French authorities which had informed the attorneys of the vessel and cargo owners that they wanted to liquidate damages amicably and without recourse to the ordinary courts, have not taken any steps to make the payments,” it claimed.