Dole agrees to be taken private after CEO Murdock raises offer

Reuters

Vegetable and fruit producer Dole Food Co Inc said it agreed to be taken private by 90-year old Chairman and Chief Executive David Murdock after he raised his offer to $13.50 per share.

Murdock, who is Dole's largest shareholder with a stake of about 40 percent, made an offer in June to buy the rest of the company for $12 per share.

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Monday's offer, which values the company at about $1.2 billion, represents a 32 percent premium to Dole's stock price before Murdock made his initial offer.

Dole shares were up 5 percent at $13.45 in morning trade on Monday. They were trading ahead of the $12 offer since it was first made, on expectations of a higher bid.

The deal allows Dole a 30-day "go-shop" period, during which it can solicit alternate offers.

Murdock's bid comes ten years after he previously took the seller of bananas, pineapples, berries and packaged salads private for $2.5 billion. The company was however much bigger then.

The deal will be financed by cash and equity contributed by Murdock, and through committed financing by Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and The Bank of Nova Scotia, the company said.

Lazard advised Dole's special committee in the deal, while Murdock was advised by Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Anthony Kurian)