Murdock’s Dole bid gets thumbs up from analysts

10/24/2013 04:59:00 PM
Coral Beach

If stockholders take the advice of some proxy advisors, they could give themselves a treat with a Halloween vote to approve David Murdock’s $1.15 billion bid to take Dole Food Co. Inc. private.

A “yes” vote on Oct. 31 could mean the deal would close as early as Nov. 1, executives with the Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole said in a news release.

Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications, said the company’s third-quarter financial report is slightly delayed because of the pending vote. The report, usually filed the first week of November, is expected to be about two weeks later this year.

Dole’s board of directors and a special committee it appointed to review Murdock’s proposal have already unanimously recommended stockholders approve the buyout.

Two proxy advisory firms also recommend a yes vote, according to Dole’s news release. Institutional Shareholder Services recommended this month that Dole stockholders take Murdock’s offer “in light of the meaningful premium offered to Dole’s unaffiliated shareholders,” according to the Dole release. The proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis made a similar recommendation.

Murdock, 90, made an unsolicited bid June 10 to buy back the company. He bought it the first time in 2003 and took it to public status in 2009. This time he offered $12 per share.

A special committee appointed by Dole’s board negotiated Murdock’s offer up to $13.50 per share.

The board’s Oct. 2 proxy statement includes several pages describing why the deal is good and why stockholders could lose money if they don’t OK it. But the bottom line is the bottom line in the recommendation supporting the buyout, referred to as a merger.

“The per-share cash merger consideration and the merger were likely to be more favorable to Dole’s unaffiliated stockholders than the value likely to be realized from other alternatives available to Dole, including remaining a public company and pursuing the current strategic plan,” according to the definitive proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.



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