David Murdock has taken back the chief executive’s job at Dole Food Co. Inc., as the fruit-and-vegetable producer prepares to complete the sale of its packaged foods and Asian fruit operation to a Japanese conglomerate.
Murdock, who is Dole’s chairman and controls 40 percent of the Westlake Village company, was chief executive between 1985 and 2007. He takes over again as part of a transition in which former chief executive David DeLorenzo and former chief financial officer Joseph Tesoriero will leave Dole for Itochu Corp. as part of the $1.68 billion deal.
The Westlake Village company on Friday said that it would close the sale on April 1. Itochu paid Dole a non-refundable $200 million cash deposit to be applied toward the purchase price, and agreed that the deposit would be forfeited if the closing does not take place by that deadline, with limited exceptions.
Dole plans to use the sale to substantially pay down its debt.
“The consummation of this transaction will result in a more focused Dole that retains significant scale with more than $4 billion in revenue and a rich asset base,” Murdock said in a statement. “With a substantial reduction in debt and the expected cost savings, Dole will also be well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities within the fresh produce category.”
DeLorenzo, a longtime Dole executive who had been with a predecessor company since 1970, will continue to have a role at the company as a board member.
The planned management reorganization originally was announced in December. To assist Murdock, 89, General Counsel Michael Carter has added roles of president and chief operating officer. Among other management changes, Keith C. Mitchell, who was chief financial officer of the North American fresh fruit business, has become CFO for the entire company.