Dole Food has hired Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank to assist with a possible sale, according to The Wall Street Journal, a development that comes less than four months after the producer of fruits and vegetables filed to go public. A number of private equity firms are said to have participated in a first round of bidding.
A deal for Dole would continue an already busy year for M&A activity in the global food products and beverages sectors, with almost
80 deals currently in the pipeline, per the PitchBook Platform.
The number of deals completed, though, is on pace to decline in 2017. Strategic acquirers have closed 331 transactions involving food & beverage companies so far this year, accounting for roughly
$63 billion in deal value, per PitchBook data. That's a far cry from last year's 752 deals representing a decade-high $151 billion in value.
Global M&A activity in food products and beverages
Dole has been privately owned since chairman and CEO David Murdock bought the company at an enterprise value of $1.6 billion in 2013. In late April, though, Dole filed for an IPO, planning to list on the NASDAQ under the DOLE ticker symbol. But the logic behind the float—that Dole's "brand position and integrated supply chain create a reliable business model that will deliver consistent, strong financial results," per its IPO filing—also makes the company a seemingly sound acquisition target. For its fiscal 2016, Dole generated $4.51 billion in revenue and $21.4 million in operating income but still posted a net loss of $23 million, with adjusted EBITDA of approximately $215.6 million.