Dole in talks to sell packaged food, Asia cos.

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2012 3:37 PM

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. (AP) — Dole Foods said Wednesday that it's in "advanced negotiations" to sell its packaged foods and Asia fresh businesses to Japanese trading company Itochu Corp.

The news sent the Westlake Village, Calif.-based fruit and vegetable company's shares up nearly 10 percent, hitting an all-time high in afternoon trading.

Dole Food Co. said that no deals have been signed and it continues to talk with several other parties regarding those assets and others.

The company said in July that it was considering a possible sale or spin-off of select businesses as part of its strategic review of its operations.

Options the company was considering at that time included a full or partial separation of one or more of the businesses through a spin-off or other capital markets transaction, as well as joint venture and sale options.

Options for its packaged foods business, which covers products ranging from frozen fruit to bagged salads, included a possible sale as well as a possible spin-off the unit to current Dole stockholders, Dole said in July.

The company also said it was considering a possible separation of the worldwide packaged foods business that would combine with Dole's operations in Asia to form a stand-alone, largely Asia-based company, either through a possible joint venture or initial public offering in Asia.

The company said in July that it expected to secure one or more of those possible deals by the end of the year.

Dole shares jumped $1.17, or 9.1 percent, to $14.02 in heavy afternoon trading, after peaking at its $15.19, their highest point since debuting in 2009, earlier in the session.