Kekst and Company is promoting a $1.25B unsolicited bid for Chiquita Brands as an alternative to the banana giant's "inversion" plan to merge with Ireland's Fyffes and establish a domicile in that country.
Orange juice producer The Cutrale Group and Brazilian banking and investment firm Safra Group today went public with a $13-per-share offer to Chiquita Brands shareholders, a 29% premium over the proposed Fyffes transaction that was pegged to Chiquita's Aug. 8 share price. The offer includes about $611M for the shares and assumption of debt for a total of about $1.25B.
Kekst managing director Jeremy Fielding is leading PR for Cutrale and Safra regarding the Chiquita offer, while Innisfree M&A is wooing proxies. The parties said they could close the deal by the end of the year, the same timeframe proposed for the Fyffes inversion.
Shareholders of Chiquita and Fyffes are slated to vote on the deal in September.
Chiquita in February hired Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher to bolster PR for the Fyffes deal, which would make the combined entity the world's top banana producer ahead of Dole.
Ogilvy PR and Ireland-based Wilson Hartnell PR work with Fyffes on the PR front, while Chiquita director of corporate communications Ed Lloyd is the primary spokesman for his company.
In a statement, Chiquita said its board and advisors will review and consider the offer to "determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders." It urged shareholders not to take action until that review is completed.
The New York Times suggested the competing bids present a "stark choice" for shareholders: " proceed with Chiquita’s inversion-driven growth plan or cash out now."
Inversion deals are popular of late as US companies look to establish headquarters abroad for favorable tax rates and to bring in cash earned overseas.