Cutrale and Safra mull options after Chiquita rejects bid-Reuters

(Reuters) – Brazilian juice maker Cutrale and the Safra Group, a banking and real estate conglomerate, said late on Thursday they were “extremely disappointed” that the board of Chiquita Brands International Inc rejected their takeover offer, adding that they are “considering all alternatives.”

Earlier in the day, Chiquita’s board reaffirmed it would recommend that the company’s shareholders approve a merger with Irish tropical fruit company Fyffes Plc and said it would not provide financial information to Cutrale or Safra.

Chiquita shares fell 1.2 percent in after-market trading on Thursday.

Cutrale and Safra offered to buy the banana producer in a $610.5 million cash deal on Monday, two months after Fyffes struck an all-stock deal worth $526 million to acquire Chiquita. Both the Cutrale Group and the Safra Group are privately held.

Chiquita said the Cutrale-Safra bid was “inadequate” and that it would not hold negotiations with the groups “at this time.”

Chiquita is attempting to close a merger with Fyffes, which the two companies announced in March. The combined market value of Chiquita and Fyffes is currently close to $1 billion.

Faced with years of declining orange juice consumption globally, Cutrale is expanding into other products and regions. The presence of the Safra Group, controlled by Brazilian-Lebanese financier Joseph Safra, could give Cutrale the financial muscle it needs to outbid Fyffes, analysts said.