Belgium-based Greenyard is in advanced talks to buy Westlake, Calif.-based Dole Food Company.

“At this stage, a definitive agreement has not been reached, and there can be no assurance that these negotiations will culminate in a transaction between the two companies,” Greenyard said in a Dec. 19 news release. 

The release said Greenyard (stock symbol GREEN at the Brussels Stock Exchange) has secured financing for the purchases and is “confident” in its ability to complete the transaction should a definitive agreement be reached. 

The release said Greenyard, with operations in 25 countries and annual sales of $5 billion, will give details when there is news to share. 

In 2015, Greenyard merged with Belgium-based Univeg. Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International, owned by Univeg since 1998, is part of the Greenyard Foods group.

Dole Food said in an e-mail Dec. 19 it had no comment on the report.


Sale pending?

The negotiations between Greenyard and Dole come several months after Dole announced its intentions to become a publicly traded company - a move that now appears unlikely. 

In April, Dole Food filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission describing its intention to offer $100 million common stock to the investing public.

The company did not say when the public offering would occur or the expected price range per share of the common stock.

Dole controlling owner David Murdock had previously taken the company private in November 2013 after four years as a publicly traded company, but that transaction prompted lawsuits from investors that were settled earlier this year.

In the document filed with the SEC in April, Dole said the company is one of the world’s largest producers of bananas and pineapples and a leader in other fresh fruit, value-added and fresh-packed vegetables, and berries.

For fiscal 2016, Dole reported revenue of about $4.51 billion, operating income of about $21.4 million, and a net loss of $23 million. Dole reported in the SEC filing that it has more than $1 billion in debt.

Apparently shedding some costs before its planned IPO, Dole Food in September downsized its berry operations in California, cutting its workforce by more 400 people and closing strawberry harvesting and cooling operations in Watsonville.