Chiquita shareholders rejected Friday a merger with European rival Fyffes that would have created the world's largest banana trader, opening the way for a $680 million takeover by Brazilian bidders.
The board of Chiquita Brands said it had terminated talks with Fyffes and would begin discussions with Brazilian juice exporter Cutrale Group and investment bank Safra Group, which on Thursday raised their unsolicited bid for Chiquita to $14.50 a share.
Earlier Chiquita's board recommended against the increased Cutrale/Safra cash bid.
The two companies argued to investors that their cash offer was worth 20 percent more than a Chiquita-Fyffes merger, and would mean an immediate payoff.
But Chiquita's board had been focused on the tax advantages of moving its domicile to Ireland in an inversion deal with Fyffes.
"Given today's results, we have determined to terminate the agreement with Fyffes and to engage with Cutrale/Safra regarding its revised offer," said Chiquita president and chief executive Edward Lonergan.
"While we are convinced (Fyffes) would have been a strong merger partner, we will now go forward as competitors."
After jumping 7.7 percent Thursday on the higher Cutrale/Safra offer, Chiquita shares rose another 3.4 percent to $14.23 in early Friday trade.