Consumer Products

Sweetened Offer Gets Dole OK

The chairman and CEO of Dole Food Co. (NYSE: DOLE), David H. Murdock, made a $12 a share offer to acquire the 60% of the company’s stock he did not already own back in early June. This morning the company announced that it had approved a sweetened offer of $13.50 a share for a total purchase price of $1.6 billion.

Murdock, a 90-year old billionaire, took Dole private in 2003 and then public again in 2009 at $12.50 a share. Today’s offer reflects a 32% premium to Dole’s share price immediately before Murdock’s first offer.

The acquisition agreement includes a 30-day “go-shop” period during which the company may seek a higher bid. Barring a competing offer the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

At the time of Murdock’s original bid for the company we noted that mergers in the food industry were down 21% compared with 2012. The largest deal on the table is a $4.7 billion offer for pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc. (NYSE: SFD) by China’s Shuanghui International Holdings. That deal has come under scrutiny by a congressional committee concerned about the safety and availability of an anticoagulant drug that is derived from pig intestines.

Dole’s shares are up about 5% at $13.46 in early trading Monday, in a 52-week range of $9.25 to $15.19.

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