Agribusiness giant Dole Food, the tri-county region’s largest private company, filed for an initial public offering of up to $100 million with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 24.
Owner David Murdock, 94, is taking the company public for the third time. He ranks fourth on the Pacific Coast Business Times Region’s Richest list, with an estimated $3 billion net worth in 2016, and owns a 2,200-acre ranch in Ventura County.
Dole Food is headquartered in Westlake Village and 600 of Dole’s more than 7,500 employees are located in the Tri-Counties.
This will be the third time Murdock has taken the company public and the latest step in a long, colorful history involving Murdock and Dole. He took the 166-year-old company private for the first time in 2003, after rescuing the food producer from bankruptcy more than two years earlier. Murdock oversaw the re-listing of Dole in a 2009 IPO.
A decade after his first buyout, in 2013, Murdock took Dole private again while he was chairman, CEO and the biggest shareholder. Many shareholders thought the buyout price of $13.50 a share was too low, and they sued. They won an additional $2.74 a share, plus interest, in a suit that was further complicated by a faulty share count.
Now, chairman and 100 percent owner Murdock is back at it again.
Dole, founded in 1851, had a net loss of $23 million in fiscal 2016, on revenue of about $4.5 billion. It is the No. 1 producer of bananas in North America by market share, and the No. 2 producer of pineapples in that market, according to the prospectus.
Part of its success can be attributed to moves Murdock has made since taking the company private in 2013, according to the prospectus. Dole has expanded through farm acquisitions and buying three West Coast vessels to ship food. Meanwhile, costs have been cut by divesting non-core assets.
Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merill Lynch and Deutshe Bank Securities are listed as underwriters for the offering.
• Contact Marissa Nall at [email protected] Bloomberg News contributed to this report.