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Dole nears deal with Itochu

By   /   Thursday, September 13th, 2012  /   Comments Off

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Westlake Village-based Dole Food Co. is closing in on a deal to sell its processed food business and Asian fresh fruit and vegetable businesses to a Japanese trading house.

In an unusual move, Dole confirmed market rumors on Sept. 12 that it is in “advanced negotiations” with Itochu Corp. to sell the business units. Reuters news service cited unnamed sources close to the deal who said the price could be $1.7 billion.

Dole is struggling with weak banana prices and a high debt load. It said earlier this year that it would put parts of its business up for sale. For its part, Itochu, one of Japan’s largest trading houses, is also a strategic partner in an effort to build a vegetable oil processing plant in Oxnard.

Dole’s stock rose 10 percent to $14.07 when it announced the news Sept. 12.

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