Tropical fruit supplier Fyffes is to merge with US-based rival Chiquita in a deal that will create the world's largest banana company.
The proposed new venture - which will be called ChiquitaFyffes - will sell more than 160 million banana boxes a year, generating sales worth $4.6 billion (£2.75 billion)
Dublin-based Fyffes, which also sells products under the Sol brand, employs more than 12,000 people worldwide. Chiquita is the larger of the two firms with annual revenues of $3 billion (£1.8 billion) and 20,000 staff.
The existing brands will be retained but customers will have access to a more diverse product mix and choice, the two companies said.
– Fyffes executive chairman David McCann
Our outstanding employees will benefit from working for a larger, more diverse business which offers opportunities for growth.
We believe we will be able to use our joint expertise, complementary assets and geographic coverage to develop a business that can run smoothly and efficiently to better partner with our customers and suppliers.
The new company, which is valued at $1 billion (£601 million), will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and domiciled in Ireland.
Fyffes generates 81 percent of its revenues from the sale of bananas, with 12 percent coming from melons and the rest from pineapples. Around a third of Chiquita's revenues currently come from salads and healthy snacks.
The combined company will generate 47 percent of its revenues from the United States and 46 percent from Europe.
It will be the largest player in the European banana market and second largest in the United States.