Chiquita Brands International has said it will study the takeover bid for the producer giant from juice maker Cutrale Group and Brazilian investment firm Safra Group.

Yesterday, Cutrale and Safra announced they had put together an offer worth US$13 a share.

The bid valued Chiquita, which has been preparing to merge with Ireland-based fruit group Fyffes, at US$611m. However, The suitors said the bid was “a highly compelling premium” to how the market values the proposed transaction with Fyffes.

The bidders said their offer was a 29% premium on the planned deal, based on Chiquita’s closing share price of US$10.06 on Friday.

In response, Chiquita issued a statement to say t will “carefully review and consider the offer to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders”. Chiquita asked investors to “take no action at this time and to await the board’s recommendation”.

Chiquita, which is set to own the majority stake in the combined ChiquitaFyffes, added: “We continue to strongly believe in the strategic merits and value provided by the proposed transaction with Fyffes plc.”

Cutrale and Safra said they could close their transaction before the end of the year. The companies said that timetable was “within the same timeframe” Chiquita had indicated for the Fyffes deal “but without the execution risk and uncertainty inherent in that transaction”.