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Fruit producer Dole said to target US$400m in third IPO

[NEW YORK] Fruit and vegetable producer Dole Food Co is seeking to raise about US$400 million in its third initial public offering, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Dole's 94-year-old chairman and 100 per cent owner, David H Murdock, is bringing the company to market for the third time in its 166-year history. The company raised US$446.4 million the last time it went public in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp. and Deutsche Bank AG are leading the offering this time, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last month.

No final decision has been made and the size of the IPO may change, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details aren't public. It's not yet clear how much Westlake Village, California-based Dole may be valued at after the share sale.

A representative from Dole declined to comment.

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Mr Murdock took Dole private for the first time in 2003 after rescuing it from bankruptcy more than two years earlier. He re-listed the company in 2009 before taking it private again in 2013 as chairman, chief executive officer and the biggest shareholder. Since the latest buyout, Dole has expanded through farm acquisitions and the purchase of three vessels for its West Coast operations while cutting costs by divesting non-core assets.

Dole, founded in 1851, had a net loss of US$23 million in fiscal 2016, on revenue of about US$4.5 billion. It's the No 1 producer of bananas in North America by market share, and the No 2 producer of pineapples in that market, according to the prospectus.