US-based Chiquita Brands International has announced the completion of its acquisition of Atlanta, a leading German distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Atlanta is the primary distributor of Chiquita products in Germany and Austria and has been the company’s largest customer in Europe for many years. Sales of Chiquita products to Atlanta totalled US$130m in 2002, $115m in 2001 and $110m in 2000.

Chiquita, a marketer, producer and distributor of fresh and processed foods, said the acquisition of Atlanta would increase Chiquita’s consolidated annual revenues by about $1.1bn. Total debt will increase by approximately $65m, although this amount is expected to be reduced by approximately $12m in the next several weeks from the scheduled sale of certain Atlanta assets.

Chiquita said Atlanta has recently been underperforming financially, due in part to unprofitable ventures outside its core markets. By exchanging loans for Atlanta’s underlying equity interests, Chiquita was able to acquire ownership in a virtually cashless transaction. Chiquita believes this will protect, and ultimately enhance, its investment and strengthen its commercial position in Germany.

Chiquita also announced the appointment of Peter Jung, 45, as Atlanta’s president. Before joining Chiquita, Jung successfully led restructuring and marketing efforts at several companies, including Demedis, PLUS Food Retail Chain (Tengelmann Group) and Danone Group.

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