CHIQUITA 'MISLEADING SHAREHOLDERS OVER POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF FYFFES DEAL' - Brazilian juicemaker Cutrale, which is trying to block the proposed merger between Dublin-based banana distributor, Fyffes and US fruit giant Chiquita Brands, has said that Chiquita is misleading its shareholders over the potential growth benefits from such a merger, says the Irish Examiner. Cutrale and its backer, the Brazilian investment firm, Safra, said Chiquita has misled its shareholders by suggesting the 40% earnings growth it has seen in the past two years is an indicator of the future performance of the enlarged entity. “Chiquita has cherry- picked this time period. Using any other start date, earlier than 2012, in the prior 10 years, Chiquita’s compound annual growth rate, in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation, through 2014 would have ranged from -9% to 1%,” the statement said. Cutrale also said that Chiquita’s share price has “sagged consistently” since the announcement of the proposed Fyffes merger earlier this year. Furthermore, it dismissed Fyffes’ assertion that there could be no certainty that a sufficient number of its shareholders would approve the merger if Chiquita adjourned its EGM in order to talk with the Brazilians as “a scare tactic“.
FRONTLINE VENTURES GETS €40m IN FIRST FUNDING ROUND - Frontline Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund, has raised €40 million in its maiden funding round. The Dublin and London-based software-only fund invests up to €2 million in early stage companies. Frontline raised the first €20 million of this fund at the end of 2013. It has already made eight investments along with international partners, says the Irish Times. Frontline is run by partners Shay Garvey, formerly of Delta Partners; Will Prendergast, ex-NCB Venture Capital; and Will McQuillan, who previously worked in start-ups and investment banking. Kim Pham recently joined as head of platform. She has worked in start-ups and venture in New York and Boston. “I am very happy that the fund has attracted a wide range of investors including Irelandia, the An Post Pension Fund, Allied Irish Banks and Enterprise Ireland, ” Mr Garvey said. Irelandia is the investment vehicle of Declan Ryan, the aviation entrepreneur and son of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan. Irelandia invests mostly in low-fares airlines around the world, but it has also invested in life-science companies. It was one of the first investors in Frontline along with Enterprise Ireland.
TWO LIAM CARROLL FIRMS GO INTO VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION - The Zoe and Danninger companies that were the lynchpin of failed developer Liam Carroll's empire have gone into voluntary liquidation. They were once among the biggest home-building companies in the country but now they're set to vanish from the landscape entirely, writes the Irish Independent. Long-time company directors John Pope and David Torpey presided over an ordinary resolution at both firms last month that called it a day for the two businesses. The resolutions - proposed by Mr Pope and seconded by Mr Torpey, were put to meetings of both companies last week held at the Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin. They simply stated: "That it having been proved to the satisfaction of the meeting that the company cannot, by reason of its liabilities, continue its business and that it is advisable to wind up same and that accordingly, the company be, and is hereby wound up voluntarily." Michael Butler of insolvency practice Butler & Co has taken on the role of corporate undertaker for Zoe and Danninger. In 2010, AIB secured the appointment of a receiver over a number of firms in Mr Carroll's insolvent Zoe group, including Danninger. The now state-owned bank had handed out €550m in loans to five companies that had been controlled by Mr Carroll.
RISE OF MICROBREWERIES HELPS REVIVE ALE INDUSTRY - Discerning beer drinkers are increasingly turning to locally brewed products, helping to revive an ale industry hit by rising duty, pub closures and the growth of supermarket sales. At the beginning of the century, the UK was home to about 500 breweries, but by last year that figure had risen to 1,442, after increasing by a further 190 in 2012, according to figures released by the British Beer and Pub Association. The growth in demand for cask ale and the sprouting of craft beer makers has been a notable feature of the beer industry in recent years. "It has stimulated an enormous amount of interest in beer," said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA. Creating your own brewing business is helped by a tax break that gives a 50% discount on duty to those who brew less than 5,000 hectolitres - almost 900,000 pints - a year. Ms Simmonds is wary of the view that craft ale could be the saviour of the industry. It still comprises only a small proportion of the sector and the tax system is putting pressure on medium-sized breweries, she said. Still, growth in the business of brewing is at least a fillip to an industry battered by years of rising beer duty, which have pushed prices up and led to numerous pub closures.