Chiquita Brands International Inc.'s second-largest shareholder said it will pursue certain business combinations, including buying all or part of the troubled banana distributor, to help restore the company's dwindling market value. Consolidated Fruit Corp., a Panama City, Panama-based investor group that holds 9.9% of Chiquita's outstanding stock, revealed it has hired New York investment bank Gordian Group to explore a "possible business combination or other strategic transaction" with Cincinnati-based Chiquita, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thus far, Consolidated has not initiated buyout talks with Chiquita and has no intentions to do so, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. However, the investor group has expressed interest in acquiring the company in the past, and the sources said all options were on the table at this point. A Chiquita spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Chiquita shares rose 16 cents to close at $1.42 on the NYSE.
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