Dolefil eyes stronger Asian presence with Japanese firm’s takeover

KORONADAL CITY(MindaNews/ 5 October)— The management of Dole Philippines, Inc. (Dolefil) appeared bullish on the looming takeover of Japanese trading giant Itochu Corp., with the acquisition projected to further strengthen the former’s Asian presence.

Simon Denye, Dolefil managing director, noted that parent firm Dole Food Co. (Dole) has a long history of business relationship with Itochu, which encompasses trading, logistics and distribution of the former’s product lines in Japan and other countries.

“With this long partnership and synergies, there perhaps could not have been a better company to acquire Dolefil than Itochu. Both Dole and Itochu are large organizations with talented people who espouse strong business ethics,” Denye said in a statement.

Dole and Itochu had reached an agreement, worth $1.685 billion, for the sale of Dole’s Worldwide Packaged Foods and Asia Fresh businesses, including Dolefil. This acquisition is part of Itochu’s over-all strategy to expand its food business.

The agreement was signed on September 17, 2012 in Dole’s Headquarters, Westlake Village, California, USA, with completion of the sale being subject to approval of Dole’s shareholders and customary regulatory approvals, after which the integration of the businesses will begin.

Itochu is known to be one of the biggest companies in the world with an expansive network in Asia, America, Europe, Africa and Oceania, with businesses in textile, machinery, metals/minerals, energy and chemicals, food, ICT and realty, among others.

Denye stressed the deal is part of business realities and is not unusual.

“The agreement calls for Itochu to acquire the Dole operations as an ongoing business,” he said.

Dolefil’s acquisition comes before it will mark a significant milestone for its operations based in Polomolok, South Cotabato.

“We welcome this development as part of the transformation of our organization, confident that it will usher in an exciting new future for Dolefil, especially as we celebrate our 50th foundation anniversary in 2013,” Denye said.

He urged employees and Dolefil’s various business partners to embrace the looming change as a positive development.

Earlier, Francis Gales, president of the Labor Employees Association of Dolefil-Polomolok Hourlies (LEAD-PH), said the deal with Itochu would not lead, so far, to the retrenchment of workers.

He said the Dolefil management already gave assurances on the job security of the workers.

Gales said their collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the management “will remain in place” and that Denye assured the workers “it will be respected until its expiration.”

The five-year CBA of the management and LEAD-PH is now on its second year.

LEAD-PH represents around 3,600 employees.  (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)