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Dole Chief Adds Shares Before Ruling

Trade: Move mirrors that of execs at Chiquita, which was also found to be hurt by the European Union's banana restrictions.

April 14, 1999|From Bloomberg News

Dole Food Co. Chairman and Chief Executive David Murdock bought $43.7 million worth of shares of the Westlake Village-based fresh produce company before the World Trade Organization ruled that the European Union unfairly restricted bananas produced by U.S. companies.

Murdock, already Dole's largest shareholder, bought 1.44 million shares for $28.75 to $31 apiece, according to the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The purchases brought his holdings to 12.5 million shares.

Murdock, who has headed Dole for nearly 14 years, bought the shares between March 9 and April 6, the day the WTO ruled that the U.S. could impose annual sanctions on EU goods.

The purchases mirrored those made by six executives at rival Chiquita Brands International Inc., whose banana sales also have been hurt by the EU's import rules.

"While it's not axiomatic that insiders always buy and sell at the right time, I'm hopeful that [Murdock's] bet is correct," said James Glickenhaus, general partner of Glickenhaus & Co., which held 554,200 Dole shares as of December.

Shares of Dole have fallen 40% from a 52-week high of $52.56 on July 17. The stock has been hurt by Hurricane Mitch, which destroyed about 10% of the world's banana supply, and more recently when hopes were dashed that the EU would resolve the long-standing trade dispute with the U.S.

Dole shares closed at $31.63, up 6 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Dole officials were not available to comment.

Last month, Chiquita Chairman and Chief Executive Carl Lindner boosted his stake in the Cincinnati-based company by 1.7 million shares.

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