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Fyffes shares hit all-time-high on takover bid from Sumitomo

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Shares in Europe's biggest banana importer Fyffes soared, after its board endorsed an E751m takeover bid from Japanese trading giant Sumitomo Corp.

Fyffes, which is headquartered in Dublin, has an annual turnover of E1.2bn.

The company has operations in Europe, the US, Canada, Central America and South America and Asia, and controls the production, shipping, ripening, distribution and marketing of bananas, pineapples, melons and mushrooms. It employs over 17,000 people worldwide.

Among its wide range of businesses, Sumitomo is Asia's leading banana producer, with plantations in the Philippines, and controls about 30% of the Japanese import market.

Shares soar

Sumitomo bid valued Fyffes shares at E2.23, nearly 50% above the company's pre-offer price.

Shares in Fyffes shot up 48.7% in afternoon deals, to E2.225, an all-time-high.

The narrow spread between the current share prices and the Sumitomo offers indicates

As well as being backed by Fyffes' board, the offer has support of major shareholders, comprising 27% of ownership.

Buying spree

The Irish-based banana company has itself been on a run of acquisitions.

Earlier this year Fyffes took over Canadian mushroom growers Highline Produce and All Seasons Mushrooms, following the purchase of melon farming assets in Guatemala and a banana farm in Costa Rica in 2015.

Two years after Fyffes was rebuffed a takeover bid for US rival Chiquita, in a move that would have created the world's largest banana company.

Sumitomo teased further expansion, noting Fyffes "strong position" in complementary markets.

"We look forward to working with the Fyffes team to further develop the business over the longer-term and to expanding into new markets," said Sumitomo chief executive Hirohiko Imura.

By William Clarke

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