Murdock offers $645M for Dole

Murdock offers $645M for Dole
Published: Jun. 11, 2013 at 9:47 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 12, 2013 at 1:47 AM HST
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David Murdock
David Murdock
Mike Hamasu
Mike Hamasu
Bob Sigall
Bob Sigall

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than a year after he sold the island of Lanai, David Murdock is taking Dole Food Co. private again.

The 90-year-old billionaire surprised Wall Street by offering $645 million to buy the 60 percent of Dole that he didn't already own.

"You would think that at 90, you would be more likely winding down your activities. But this definitely runs counter to that to that thought process," said Mike Hamasu, director of consulting and research at Colliers International.

If approved by Dole's board of directors, Murdock would become the sole owner of the company's 25,000 acres of agricultural and forest land in Hawaii.

But he would likely continue the company's effort to sell 20,000 acres of those acres. That sale will like take several years and fetch about $200 million.

The deal does not include Murdock's privately held Castle & Cooke, which owns about 120,000 acres in Hawaii, including the massive Koa Ridge project.

Business historians say that going private has its advantages.

"What it usually means in the business world is the company is unencumbered by a board of directors that expects a profit every month -- or every quarter I should say," said Bob Sigall, author of the book "The Companies We Keep.

"It gives them some freedom to think long-term. I think that's probably a good thing for Hawaii."

Murdock -- who lives in California but keeps a home on Lanai -- told the New York Times several years ago that said he expects to live to 125 thanks to diet and lifestyle.

According to Forbes Magazine, he is the nation's 213th richest man, with a net worth of about $2.4 billion.

In Hawaii, Murdock is best known for his efforts on behalf of the island of Lanai.

He is praised for helping underwriting the island's hotel industry and semi-agrarian lifestyle but he's often criticized for shutting down the island's pineapple industry and for trying to erect massive wind farms.

Murdock sold Lanai to software billionaire Larry Ellison last June.

Founded in 1851, Dole is one of the world's largest producers of fresh fruit with 25,000 permanent and temporary employees.

During the plantation era, the company was one of Hawaii's largest employers and the giant pineapple at its Iwilei plant served as a symbol for the state's booming agricultural industry.

But with cheap overseas competition and the prolonged 1990s recession, the company's presence in Hawaii has plummeted, even while its international and Mainland operations have continued to grow.

The company still plans to keep more than 2,000 acres in Central Oahu for its pineapple operations but many experts say they don't expect a big turnaround in the company's Hawaii operations as a result of Murdock's takeover.

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