Los Angeles Business Journal

FTC Won’t Block Sale of Dole Operations

By Deborah Crowe Tuesday, November 6, 2012

U.S. antitrust regulators have signaled that they will not block Dole Food Co. Inc.’s pending $1.7 billion sale of two fresh food businesses to Itochu Corp.

A notice on the Federal Trade Commission’s website said that a request by the two companies for “early termination” of its antitrust review had been granted as of Monday.

The Westlake Village company announced in mid-September that it would sell its Dole Packaged Foods LLC and Dole Asia Holdings Pte Lit. – its global packaged fresh foods and Asia fresh food units – to Itochu, a large Tokyo trading company.

The deal will help Dole, the world's largest fruit and vegetable producer, restructure its business and pay down its heavy debt load. Itochu will be more easily able to expand its food business into new markets, such as China.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Dole has not commented on the FTC’s action or the status of similar reviews underway in countries affected by the deal, which gives Itochu exclusive rights to the Dole trademark on packaged food products worldwide and on fresh produce in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. A special meeting of Dole shareholders to sign off on the transaction is scheduled for November 27.

Dole shares on Tuesday closed up 4 cents, or less than 1 percent, to $12.05 on the New York Stock Exchange.