Chiquita and Irish fruit firm Fyffes agreed to merge Monday, forming the world's largest banana company.
The $1.07 billion all-stock deal would result in the creation of ChiquitaFyffes, a company expected to sell about 160 million boxes of bananas annually, ousting No. 1 banana supplier Dole Food Co. from the top spot. The new company would have 32,000 employees and $4.6 billion in annual revenue from sales.
"Our outstanding employees will benefit from working for a larger, more diverse business which offers opportunities for growth," said Fyffes Executive Chairman David McCann in a statement. "We believe we will be able to use our joint expertise, complementary assets and geographic coverage to develop a business that can run smoothly and efficiently to better partner with our customers and suppliers."
The merged company will be listed in New York but domiciled in Ireland, a move that will result in tax savings for the company. Chiquita shareholders will own approximately 50.7 percent of ChiquitaFyffes.
Both Chiquita and Fyffes have historic backgrounds in the banana market. Chiquita, founded in 1870, was one of the first companies to market branded bananas and helped the fruit gain popularity in the U.S. following World War II. Fyffes, which began shipping bananas in 1888, claims to be the world's oldest fruit brand as it started sticking blue labels on all its produce in 1929.
The modern banana market is at a point of flux, as new innovations and challenges transform the industry. Recent improvements in shipping technology has allowed bananas' life span to more than double, with exports of bananas increasing by 7.3 percent in 2012 to an all-time high of 16.5 million tons. At the same time, new fungi may threaten the global industry as we know it.
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