25 October 2014 -Â Shareholders in banana company Chiquita have voted against a merger deal with Irish rival Fyffes.
As a result, Chiquita will enter talks with Brazil’s Cutrale and Safra following its $14.50 a share offer.
The announcement sent shares in Fyffes down 5% to 94 cents in Dublin, while Chiquita shares rose 3% to $14.16 in New York.
The Brazilian groups raised their offer by 4% on Thursday ahead of the shareholder vote.
The Fyffes deal, first announced in March, would have create the world’s largest banana supplier, with $4.6bn in annual revenues.
Chiquita chief executive Edward Lonergan said: “While we are convinced [Fyffes] would have been a strong merger partner, we will now go forward as competitors.”
The Brazilian consortium had said their revised bid. which valued Chiquita at about $682m, offered shareholders 20% more than the Fyffes bid.
Chiquita had said ahead of the meeting that that it would only enter talks with Cutrale, a fruit juice producer, and investment bank Safra if its shareholders rejected the deal with Fyffes.
The US company said it was possible that no agreement with the Brazilian groups would result from the talks.
Dublin-based Fyffes employs about 12,000 people worldwide, while Charlotte, North Carolina-headquartered Chiquita has 20,000 workers.
When the deal was announced, US and Irish law would have permitted Chiquita to move its headquarters to the Republic of Ireland, where it would be subject to a lower tax rate than.
However, the Irish and US governments have since announced plans to make it much harder for companies to take advantage of these so-called tax inversions.