After several rumored deals and a bid by ownership to take the company public, Westlake Village-based Dole Food Co. Inc. sold off a 45 percent equity stake to Dublin-based Total Produce for $300 million.

The deal was announced in February and consummated in July. The companies agreed on several future benchmarks under which Total Produce could purchase additional equity in Dole.

Dole owner David Murdock said in July that the deal created a partnership with Total Produce that would benefit both companies.

“I am excited for the future of Dole in our relationship with Total Produce,” Murdock said. “They have a long and successful history in the produce industry, and I have complete confidence that as the premier produce brand, Dole will be able to tap that expertise in growing our position worldwide. Both Dole and Total Produce have a standard of perfection that leads the industry in innovation; together we will further our joint mission of providing the highest quality produce to the world.”

Dole also announced in December plans to sell its Saba Fresh Cuts AB and Saba Fresh Cuts OY divisions to BAMA International. Saba makes prewashed, ready-to-eat salads. The sale of Saba Fresh Cuts AB was necessary for the European Commission to approve the investment made by Total Produce in Dole.

Ian Hunter, an analyst with Investec Bank, said the lack of overlap, both in products and geography, made the deal beneficial to both parties.

Dole, he said, is focused on North America, bananas and value-add vegetables like salads. Total Produce is European-focused but expanding in North America and has a diverse product offering.

“The deal is beneficial for both parties,” Hunter wrote in an email. “For Total Produce it gives it scale in North America, a market where fruit and vegetable imports (current trade environment notwithstanding) are on the increase. The European import market is more mature with little to no growth. For Dole, it brings in a player with a strong balance sheet, which will go some way to stabilizing Dole’s debt position.” 

Local owner

Murdock was No. 19 on the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2018 Wealthiest Angelenos list where his net worth was pegged at roughly $4 billion.

He kept his job as chairman of Dole after the deal with Total Produce Chairman Carl McCann stepping in to serve as vice chairman of the Westlake Village company.

“We are delighted to conclude this very substantial transaction with David Murdock who has been an inspirational and visionary leader since he acquired a majority shareholding in Dole in 1985,” McCann previously said in a statement. “Dole is one of the world’s foremost fresh produce companies and we look forward with great enthusiasm to working very closely together with David and his excellent management team to continue to develop the business in the future.”

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