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Trading company Itochu Corp. is in talks to buy the packaged-foods business and a unit in Asia from Dole Food Co., the U.S.-based producer and distributor of fruits and vegetables.

Responding to speculation that drove the Westlake Village, California-based company’s shares up as much as 18 percent Wednesday, Dole said, “it is in advanced negotiations” with Tokyo-based Itochu for the sale of the two units as part of its previously announced strategic review.

“No definitive agreements have been signed at this time, and Dole continues in discussions with several other parties regarding these assets and others,” the company said in a statement.

Dole rose 9.5 percent to $14.07 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since July 20.

Dole, which said in July that it was considering a potential sale or spinoff of some units, will sell its global canned-fruit and juice-processing operations and its Asian fruit and vegetable operations to Itochu for $1.7 billion, Nikkei reported earlier without citing the source for the information. The two companies plan to reach agreement this month, Nikkei said.

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