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Itochu in talks to buy Dole Food businesses
(Reuters) - Dole Food Company Inc (DOLE.N) said it is in advanced talks with Japanese trading house Itochu Corp (8001.T) to sell its packaged foods and Asia fresh businesses, sending its shares up nearly 10 percent.
No definitive agreements have been signed with Itochu and Dole remains in discussions with several other parties about selling these and other assets, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Itochu could pay around $1.7 billion for the Dole businesses and could reach an agreement in the near future, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because details of the negotiations are not public.
Itochu was not available for comment outside business hours in Japan.
Dole Food, founded in 1851, has struggled with volatile demand and low prices for bananas, its biggest-selling product.
The world's largest fruit and vegetable company, which began exploring strategic options in May, said in July it was in talks to sell or spin off its packaged foods business and was considering a deal in Asia.
Dole Food's packaged foods business includes canned pineapple, canned pineapple juice, fruit juice concentrate, fruit in plastic cups and other packages and frozen fruit.
Its other businesses sell fresh bananas, pineapples and berries, and more than 20 different types of fresh vegetables as well as bagged salads.
Shares of Dole, which went public in October 2009, rose almost 10 percent to $14.07 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York and Ranjita Ganesan in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Richard Chang)
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