BRUSSELS – Sumitomo Corp. agreed to buy Fyffes Plc for €751 million ($798 million) in cash, expanding the company’s reach in the global fruit market and sending the Irish producer’s shares soaring.
Sumitomo offered €2.23 for the Dublin-based company, 49 percent more than Fyffes’ closing price on Thursday. Fyffes stock rose 48 percent to just below the offer price in Dublin trading.
For Sumitomo, the purchase will add sales of more than €1.2 billion from a business that distributes about 46 million cases of bananas in Europe annually. In addition to bananas, which it has been importing to the U.K. since 1888, Fyffes also markets pineapples, melons and mushrooms.
Sumitomo has been active in the fruit industry since the 1960s, and imports about 30 percent of all bananas that enter the Japanese market. In 2014, Chiquita Brands International Inc. shareholders rejected a proposed takeover of Fyffes that would have created the world’s largest banana producer.
The proposed takeover by Sumitomo has secured irrevocable undertakings from investors owning about 27 percent of Fyffes’ shares.
“We believe this transaction represents a compelling proposition for our shareholders,” Fyffes chairman David McCann said in a statement.
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