Dole Food Co. (UNKNOWN:DOLE.DL) Chairman and CEO David H. Murdock has signed a definitive merger agreement with the company to purchase all the outstanding shares of Dole common stock that he does not already hold, both he and the company announced today.

To take the company private, Murdock would pay $13.50 in cash for each share of stock, an increase of $1.50 over his original offer of June 10 and 32% over the per-share closing price immediately prior to the first offer. With the assumption of Dole's debt ($673 million as of June 15), the buying price would be $1.6 billion.

The board of directors -- with Murdock abstaining -- unanimously approved the agreement. Final approval will be subject to a vote by the majority of the outstanding shares held by stockholders other than Murdock.

The parties expect the transaction to be completed during the fourth quarter of this year. It will also be subject to regulatory approval.

Dole has gone through a number of major changes recently. It sold its packaged foods and Asia fresh business for $1.69 billion in a deal that closed in April. In May, Dole said it would indefinitely suspend its $200 million share repurchase program and use its cash instead to update its shipping fleet to enhance growth prospects.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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