SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles financier David H. Murdock vowed Monday to move quickly to capitalize on Castle & Cooke Inc.'s vast real estate holdings after he completes his planned takeover of the ailing fruit and vegetable company.
"Nobody who has headed Castle & Cooke in the past has had real estate experience," said Murdock, who will become chief executive of the combined company when his Flexi-Van Corp. merges with Castle & Cooke later this year.
Murdock, whose personal real estate-based fortune is believed to exceed $500 million, said that his plans for Castle & Cooke include the sale of unproductive land, stepped up real estate development and the continued buildup of the company's flagship Dole brand.
Castle & Cooke's 150,000-acre Hawaiian land holdings include the entire island of Lanai, also known as the "pineapple island" because of Dole's sprawling pineapple plantation there.
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 3, 1985 Home Edition Business Part 4 Page 2 Column 4 Financial Desk Type of Material: Correction; Wild Art
PHOTO: FOR THE RECORD David H. Murdock, left, chairman of Flexi-Van Corp., and Robert D. Cook, chief executive of Castle & Cooke Inc., answer questions at a news conference on Monday about the proposed merger of their firms. On Tuesday, The Times published Cook's photograph with a caption that incorrectly identified him as Murdock.
PHOTOGRAPHER: United Press International
The company also owns 6,600 acres in California, including 2,450 acres at the Sea Ranch development in Northern California, 3,300 acres in San Jose, 350 acres in Camarillo Springs and 500 acres at the MountainGate development in West Los Angeles.
Murdock, seeking to counter reports in Hawaii newspapers that said that he plans to "strip" Castle & Cooke of its assets, insisted that he wants "to build Castle & Cooke, not to destroy it." As evidence, he pointed to the fact that Castle & Cooke will be the name of the merged companies.
Murdock declined comment on two recent conversations he has had with Minneapolis investor Irwin L. Jacobs, who has opposed Murdock's planned takeover in the wake of Castle & Cooke's rebuff of Jacobs' own attempt to acquire the company.
To Take Action
Castle & Cooke has stated that it will hold Jacobs "personally responsible" if he takes action that disrupts the deal with Flexi-Van.
In a joint press conference with Murdock, Castle & Cooke President and Chief Executive R. D. Cook said the planned takeover by Murdock was the best of three possible alternatives for the troubled company.
The other alternatives, he said, were to file for court protection from creditor lawsuits under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or to agree to a debt-restructuring agreement with bankers that would have severely restricted the company's ability to grow.
Although Castle & Cooke's shareholders won't receive any premium as a result of the merger, Cook insisted that the Flexi-Van deal "is an excellent outcome to a difficult situation."
He also disclosed that Castle & Cooke operated profitably in the quarter ended March 31, but he declined to provide details.