Dole Food Closes On $1.7B Itochu Deal

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (AP) -- Dole Food has completed its approximately $1.7 billion sale of its worldwide packaged foods and Asia fresh produce businesses to Japanese trading company Itochu Corp.

The sale was announced in September and approved by stockholders in December. Dole's packaged foods business includes products such as canned and frozen fruit.

Itochu, founded more than 150 years ago, is one of five huge Japanese trading houses whose reach extends into practically every industry, from mining and oil to consumer goods and foods.

The deal leaves Dole Food Co. with fresh fruit and vegetable operations.

The company said that it entered a new credit facility with five of its banking partners that will give it more flexibility. This includes a $500 million term loan and a $150 million revolving credit facility.

In addition, Dole said that its first-quarter results will include an additional $42 million provision related to a 45.6 million euros ($58.6 million) fine by the European Commission for alleged anticompetitive information exchanges with Dole Fresh Fruit Europe OHG and other EU banana importers in Germany 10 years ago. Dole Food said it plans to appeal to the EU Court of Justice the EU General Court's affirmation of the European Commission's fine.

"We strongly believe that the European competition laws were not violated," the company said in a statement.

Shares of Dole Food, which is based in Westlake Village, Calif., fell 21 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $10.70 in afternoon trading on Monday.

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