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LONDON -- Chiquita has combined with Dublin-based Fyffes to become the world's top banana company.

The stock-for-stock transaction announced Monday creates a global banana and fresh produce company with $4.6 billion in annual revenue.

The new company, ChiquitaFyffes, will have an operating presence in more than 70 countries and a workforce of approximately 32,000 people. It will become the largest company in the global banana market with sales of more than 160 million boxes annually.

Ed Lonergan, Chiquita's chief executive officer, says the deal creates a strategic partnership that combines two complementary companies that will work to bring best practices in countries where they operate.

Chiquita Brands International is based in Charlotte, N.C., and has a big presence in the United States while Fyffes has a major presence in Europe.

According to the release on the Chiquita website, as part of the merger, the Charlotte-based company will move its headquarters to Ireland. There's no official word as of yet as to what will happen with the Charlotte office or jobs in the Charlotte area.

Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon released the following statement on the merger on Monday afternoon:

We congratulate Chiquita and are proud that Charlotte will be a key base of operations for ChiquitaFyffes, the world's number one producer and distributor of bananas. The merger also opens up new opportunities, markets, and product lines for the company, and we believe Charlotte stands to benefit from today's news.

Every economic development incentive grant approved by the City and County contains provisions that require the recipient to repay all or a portion of the grant, should it fail to meet the terms of the grant. Based on the most current information, it is not anticipated that this merger will affect the status of the local grants, but City staff will review this further in the coming weeks as more information becomes available.

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