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Global AgInvesting Media reports:

Dole is set to merge with Dublin-based Total Produce, the leading fresh produce company in the EU, resulting in a combined entity that will be the largest fresh produce company in the world.

Once established, the new company, which will be under the Dole Plc name, will have an EU headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, and a U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, and plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange with intentions of raising between $500 million and $700 million which will be used to pay down debt.

Once listed in New York, Total Produce will cease to be listed on Euronext Dublin and the London Stock Exchange.

Dole has been back and forth between being public and private in recent years. David Murdock, chairman and CEO of Dole Foods, first took the company private in 2003, then public in 2009, and finally private again in 2013 when he reached an agreement with the company to acquire it in a $1.2 billion cash deal.

However, since then, Dole has been looking to go public once again, as consumer demands have shifted toward more health conscious food choices, increasing the demand for fruits and vegetables.

Five years after going private in 2013 news broke that Total Produce agreed to acquire a 45 percent stake in Dole for $300 million in 2018, giving Dole an enterprise value of about $2 billion at the time.

This deal will not only simplify the structure of the two companies under common ownership through full operational integration, realization of synergies, and value creation, but it will result in a company that is twice as large as its closest rival, with combined revenue of about $9.7 billion, adjusted EBITDA of about $379 million, and total assets valued at approximately $4.5 billion, according to a statement announcing the merger.

"I am delighted with this transaction, which combines two highly complementary premium businesses to create the global leader in fresh produce," said Carl McCann, chairman, Total Produce. "I am confident the combined business will open new avenues of value creation for shareholders and pursue innovation in healthy nutrition for our customers worldwide."

McCann continued, "Our intention to list the new company in the United States marks an exciting next step for Dole plc. The combined company will become the largest global player with over 170 years of history in fresh produce in both companies, a highly diversified portfolio, resilient earnings and a strong balance sheet that positions us well for accelerated growth. We look forward to beginning this next chapter and providing increased opportunity for our shareholders, dedicated employees, customers, suppliers and partners."

As can be imagined, the scale of Dole Plc will give the company market advantage due to its well-balanced geographic presence, extensive and diverse product portfolio (leading in bananas, pineapples, and fresh vegetables), the strength of the Dole brand, market penetration, expanded network of relationships among distributors, suppliers, and shippers, supply chain efficiencies, as well as cross-selling.

These advantages and synergies realized through cost optimization across products, regions, sourcing, and supply chain are expected to deliver adjusted EBITDA of between $30 million and $40 million over the medium-term.

It has been announced that under the new framework that Rory Byrne, CEO of Total Produce, will assume the same role for Dole Plc, and current CEO of Dole, Johan Lindén, will become COO - both assuming the helm of the world's largest fresh produce powerhouse at a time when the market is booming, as an additional 2.9 billion pounds of fresh produce was sold in 2020 as of August 31, compared to the year before, and sales of organic produce soared by 14.2 percent in 2020 over the previous year, (with packaged salads, berries, and apples leading the charge).

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