US produce group Dole Food Co. has sold its global packaged food and Asian fresh businesses to Japanese conglomerate Itochu Corp. for US$1.7bn.

The deal, announced yesterday (17 September) followed admissions from both companies last week that they were in talks over the assets.

In May, Dole said it was reviewing its options to boost value for shareholders.

Dole chairman David Murdock, who owns a significant stake in the company, said the deal will reduce the company’s debts and allow it to focus on growing other parts of its business.

“The consummation of this transaction will result in a more focused Dole that retains significant scale with more than $4bn in revenue and a rich asset base,” Murdock said. “With a substantial reduction in debt and the expected cost savings, Dole will also be well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities within the fresh produce category.”

Dole’s packaged food business sells canned, frozen and ambient snack products worldwide. The company’s Asian fresh business includes the sourcing of a range of fruit and vegetables from countries like Thailand and the Philippines. The deal is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

Click here for our In the spotlight analysis of the deal, published last week after talks were announced.