Murdock's offer stands alone; Dole deal in home stretch

09/11/2013 09:54:00 AM
Coral Beach

David Murdock's move to buy back the company he privatized in 2003 and then took public in 2009 could close by the end of this year. No other bidders filed offers with Dole Food Co. Inc. during a final 30-day "go-shop" period that ended Sept. 10.No other buyers offered to beat David Murdock’s price, so the sale of Dole Food Co. Inc. is expected to move forward and close by the end of this year, setting the value of the company at $1.6 billion.

Officials with the Westlake Village, Calif., company said Sept. 11 the pending deal with chairman and chief executive officer Murdock to buy back Dole included a period to seek other bidders from Aug. 30-Sept. 10, but no alternative transactions came in, according to a news release.

Murdock signed a deal Aug. 12 that other Dole officials described in a company news release as a “merger agreement.”

The agreement is subject to approval by U.S. and foreign governments and a majority of stockholders other than Murdock. It would allow Murdock to acquire, for cash, all of the outstanding shares of the company. Stockholders would receive $13.50 per share of common stock.

The 90-year-old Murdock made an unsolicited bid June 10 to pay $12 per share, setting the value of the company at $1.1 billion. Murdock and his family members own 40% of the stock already. The offer included a clause that stated the offer would be pulled if not acted upon by July 31. The stock was at $10.20 per share immediately before June 10 offer.

Dole’s board named a special committee to consider Murdock’s offer, which came 10 years after his 2003 purchase of the company when he bought 76% of the Dole shares for $1.43 billion, and assuming another $1 billion of debt. He took the company public in 2009.

Murdock was chief executive from July 1985 through June 2007. He returned to the CEO’s office early this year when David DeLorenzo stepped down from the post to help the Japanese company Itochu run the portions of the Dole business it bought for $1.7 billion.

That sale was finalized in April and included the global packaged foods business and Dole’s Asia fresh foods business. It came following a period of financial struggles that saw Dole report annual revenue of $4.2 billion, an 11% revenue decrease for 2012 compared with 2011.

The global packaged foods and Asian fresh food operations represented 38% of Dole’s 2012 revenues, according to financial reports, and more than half of its operating income.



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