Shares of Dole Food, based in Westlake Village, closed above CEO David Murdock’s buyout offer price of $13.50 after the company disclosed in SEC filings that other bidders may be surfacing.
In its filing Dole said that “beginning on the morning of Aug. 12” representatives of investment bank Lazard began contacting potential bidders, including four unnamed parties labeled A-D. The company subsequently signed confidentiality agreements with unnamed parties and granted them access to its online site for due diligence reviews, the SEC filing said.
After the disclosure, Dole Food shares rose, closing at $13.71 up 25 cents or slightly below 2 percent. Volume was heavy as 3.7 million shares traded, more than twice normal volume.
Murdock, 86, has twice offered to purchase all of the outstanding stock in Dole that he doesn’t own — he controls about 40 percent of the stock. After an initial bid in June of $12 per share, he increased his offer to $13.50 in early August. The company accepted that bid.
The solicitation of alternative bids by Lazard triggers a 30-day countdown in which the company actively looks for a higher bidder. There’s no guarantee that alternative bidders will actually submit higher offers based on information provided.