Fruit giant Fyffes is to merge with US-based rival Chiquita in a deal that will create the world’s largest banana supplier.
The proposed new business will be called ChiquitaFyffes, have its listing in New York and generate annual revenues of almost £3 billion from the sale of more than 160 million banana boxes a year, as well as melons and pineapples.
Dublin-based Fyffes, which also sells products under the Sol brand, employs more than 12,000 people worldwide. Chiquita is the larger of the two firms with annual revenues of $3bn (£1.8bn) and some 20,000 staff.
The all-share tie-up will be subject to review by competition authorities but analysts believe it is unlikely to prompt major regulatory demands because the two businesses operate mainly inseparate North American and European markets.
Fyffes began trading in the 1880s when the first commercial delivery of bananas from the Canary Islands arrived in London for EW Fyffe, Son & Co.
The world’s oldest fruit brand came into being in 1929 with the famous blue label and its bananas are sourced in the Tropics from countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
It currently employs about 4,000 people in the UK and Ireland, including in Livingston, Portsmouth and Wakefield.
Fyffes executive chairman David McCann, who will become chief executive of the merged firm, said: “Our outstanding employees will benefit from working for a larger, more diverse business.”