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EU clears Japanese takeover of Irish fruit giant Fyffes

By John Mulligan and Sean Duffy

The €751m (£648m) acquisition of Irish fruit firm Fyffes by Japan's Sumitomo has received competition clearance, after the European Commission said it will not oppose the transaction.

Completion of the takeover remains subject to sanction of the scheme of arrangement by the High Court on February 16.

Last month, Fyffes shareholders voted overwhelmingly to sell the company to Sumitomo.

A motion to back the €751m sale of the Irish company was backed by more than 99% of Fyffes shareholders who voted at an extraordinary general meeting.

Fyffes shareholders are to receive €2.23 (£1.90) per share under the terms of the transaction. Fyffes has an annual turnover of €1.2bn (£1bn).

Sumitomo is a Japanese company with over 800 subsidiaries around the globe employing around 65,000 workers.

In December, Fyffes chairman David McCann called the deal a "compelling proposition".

"Our employees, customers, suppliers and joint venture partners will benefit from Fyffes being part of an enlarged group with greater scale, reach and resources to broaden and accelerate delivery of Fyffes' strategic objectives.

"We look forward to working with the Sumitomo team to develop and enhance our group's strategy and to build on its long track record of successful growth," he said.

The Japanese firm said it intends expanding Fyffes into new markets as well as expanding its produce offerings. Fyffes already operates in the pineapple, banana, mushroom, and melons markets.

In December, Sumitomo managing executive officer Hirohiko Imura said his company has long-admired Fyffes for its market-leading position.

"We believe that our offer represents a great reward for Fyffes' shareholders," he said.

"We are grateful the McCann family has provided an irrevocable commitment of support and is entrusting us to continue with them the rich Fyffes' heritage."

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