Chiquita merges with Fyffes of Ireland to become world's largest banana supplier

Company moving HQ from Charlotte to Dublin

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Less than three years after moving from Cincinnati, Chiquita is merging with Fyffes of Ireland and moving its headquarters from Charlotte to Dublin, a more tax-efficient corporate base.

The merger, announced Monday, creates the world's biggest banana supplier.

Cincinnati lost Chiquita in November 2011 when the company took a $22-million incentives deal from Charlotte. Some executives will remain in Charlotte to oversee operations in North and South America, Fyffes of Ireland said.

The all-shares agreement means the two companies will become ChiquitaFyffes PLC, be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

However, shoppers used to seeing bananas bearing the bold blue stickers of Chiquita or Fyffes aren't expected to notice any difference. The two brands are staying separate.

The companies said the deal, which requires shareholder and regulatory approval in Ireland and the United States, would generate $40 million in pre-tax savings through more efficient operations.

Current Fyffes and Chiquita shareholders each would own half of a combined operation expected to generate $4.6 billion in annual sales.

The two companies said the merger would create a banana behemoth that ships more than 160 million crates worldwide, about a quarter more than either of their main rivals, Dole and Del Monte. ChiquitaFyffes also would become the world's No. 3 distributor of pineapples and melons.

David McCann, Fyffes' chairman, will become chief executive officer of the combined company, while the chief executive of Chiquita, Ed Lonergan, will become its chairman.

Lonergan said their "natural strategic partnership" would "provide customers with a more diverse product mix and choice."

CIncinnati tried to keep Chiquita, which was headquartered at Fifth and Sycamore streets, but couldn't match Charlotte's offer or the advantages of the Charlotte airport. Charlotte offered flights to Latin America and CIncinnati did not.

Cincinnati offered the company city and state tax incentives to add 90 jobs over three years. 

Cincinnati lost as many as 300 jobs when Chiquita moved out, according to reports at the time.  


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