Fyffes, the world’s oldest banana brand is set to be sold to Japanese firm Sumitomo in a deal worth some $800 million. The deal will merge the two biggest banana distributors in Europe and Asia.
It comes as the McCann family agrees to offload its 11.79 per cent stake in the banana firm, which is worth around $90 million. Meanwhile, the Zucker family in South Carolina is expecting a similar payout.
The families and other shareholders will get 2.35 dollars per share as well as a final dividend of two cents a share under the payout. Chairman of Fyffes, David McCann said that the offer would benefit employees, customers, suppliers and joint venture partners. Fyffes will now become part of a bigger firm nd Mr McCann said that greater scale, reach and resources would enable it to achieve its business objectives.
It is not the first time that Fyffes has looked into merger possibilities. Two years ago, Fyffes and Chiquita were in discussions for a merger which would have created the world’s biggest banana firm, although that did not go ahead. However, since then, Fyffes has made a number of acquisitions and has recently added mushrooms to its business portfolio of melons, pineappleas and, of course, bananas.
The merger is understood to have been discussed at a dinner with executives from Sumitomo, who travelled to Dublin to begin talks two months ago. Fyffes is expected to remain intact and Mr McCann has promised to stay on for a period, during the transition phase.
The firm was first launched in 1888 when tea importer Edward Fyffe went into partnership with fruit distributor James Hudson and began bringing bananas from the Canary Islands to London. Mr McCann’s grandfather Charles was the first Fyffes agent in Ireland. The McCanns continued to grow their business, floating it on the Irish stock exchange in the early Eighties and then buying Fyffes.