The €751 million (US$798 million) takeover bid of Ireland-headquartered Fyffes by Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation was approved today by shareholders, as protesters outside the meeting highlighted the alleged plight of workers in Central America.
Website Irishtimes.com reported the cash deal of €2.25 per share was likely to close in mid to late-February, pending various regulatory approvals.
Fyffes executive chairman David McCann was quoted as saying it was “an historic day in the company’s history”, which dates back to 1902.
The sale would end the tropical fruits distributor’s three-and-a-half decades as a Dublin-listed company and result in an €87.5 million payment to the McCann family for their almost 12% stake, the story said.
While the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) took place at a Dublin hotel, protestors from Dublin Trade Council, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), U.K.-based National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB) and Banana Link held a demonstration outside.
The protesters drew attention to conditions allegedly faced by workers at Fyffes’ Anexco pineapple subsidiary in Costa Rica and two melon units in Honduras, according to Irishtimes.com.
In a press release, Banana Link said the protestors were calling on Fyffes to “respect the rights of their workers, including minimum wage and social security contributions, in Central America before the EGM rubber stamped the sale of the company.”
“On behalf of our partners in Honduras and Costa Rica, we have been seeking an open dialogue between Fyffes’ local management and unions for over a year,” said Jacqui Mackay from Banana Link in the release.
“It is so disappointing that Fyffes consistently refuse to accept their responsibility for providing Decent Work with living wages and a safe environment.”
Meanwhile, Bert Schouwenburg of GMB said “Fyffes really are the unacceptable face of globalisation.”
McCann was quoted by Irishtimes.com as saying that Fyffes “has a different perspective to the protesters”, declining to comment further.
In a statement last week, a Fyffes spokesperson described the groups’ move as “opportunistic.”
“The Ethical Trading Initiative is currently overseeing a process looking into these matters, so this action is a purely opportunistic move by the unions concerned,” he said.
“Unlike them, we intend to respect the process and have no further comment to make at this stage.”