Dole, Total Produce To Merge Into World's Largest Produce Company

Feb. 18, 2021
While Dole name survives, Ireland's Total Produce is the acquirer; company to become publicly listed in the U.S.

Dole Food Co. and Total Produce Plc, Europe’s leading fresh produce company, have agreed to merge to create what they claim will be the world's largest fresh produce company, with estimated revenue of approximately US$9.7 billion.

The resulting name will be Dole Plc, but its headquarters will be in Total Produce's Dublin, Ireland, home, not Charlotte, N.C., which Dole has called home since moving out of Westlake Village, Calif., in 2019.

Carl McCann, Total Produce's chairman, will have that title in the new Dole; ditto for Total's CEO Rory Byrne. Dole Food’s current CEO, Johan Lindén, will become chief operating officer of the new company.

The two already are linked. Total Produce bought 45% of Dole in 2018 for $300 million, with McCann becoming vice chairman of Dole. The other 55% was held by Castle & Cooke, an entity controlled by Dole Chairman David Murdoch, who first bought Dole in 1985 and has steered it in and out of near-bankruptcy and in and out of the public stock market.

One condition of the Total Produce deal is that Dole Plc successfully holds an initial public offering of stock and gets listed on a major U.S. stock exchange. Dole Plc also intends to raise $500-$700 million in primary equity capital to strengthen and de-leverage itself. Upon completion of the U.S. listing of Dole plc, Total Produce will cease to be listed on Euronext Dublin and the London Stock Exchange.

"The Transaction will simplify the existing structure between the two companies by unifying Dole and Total Produce under common ownership, with the objective of enabling full operational integration, realisation of synergies and value creation across the enlarged business," Total Produce said in a news release.

Dole is almost entirely a fresh produce company, having sold its packaged foods business in 2014 to Japanese firm Itochu Corp. for nearly $1.7 billion. The division represented a third of Dole’s revenue but most of its profit.

The combined company will be approximately two times larger than its nearest competitor, flexing its muscle in produce supply chains and end markets.

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