DOLE FOOD COMPANY, INC. ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING EUROPEAN COMMISSION STATEMENT OF OBJECTIONS
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California - July 25, 2007
Dole Food Company, Inc. today confirmed that European Commission antitrust authorities have adopted a Statement of Objections against one of the Company's subsidiaries, and other unrelated banana import companies, alleging violations of the European Union competition laws by banana importers within the European Economic Area (EEA). The Statement of Objections follows searches carried out by the European Commission in June 2005 at certain banana importers' European offices, including two of the Company's offices.
A Statement of Objections is a procedural step in the European Commission's antitrust investigation, in which the Commission communicates its preliminary view with respect to a possible infringement of European Union competition laws. The European Commission will review responses to the Statement of Objections in order to determine whether to issue a final Decision. Any Decision (including any fines that may be assessed under the Decision) will be subject to appeal to both the European Court of First Instance and the European Court of Justice.
Michael Carter, Dole's Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary stated, "The Company strongly disputes the European Commission's allegations of anti-competitive behavior and believes that Dole has not violated the European Union competition laws." Mr. Carter also stated that "Dole is proud of its reputation as one of the world's most ethical companies and will continue to cooperate with the European Commission in order to provide the Commission with a full and transparent understanding of the banana market."
As previously reported, the Company recently settled two putative consolidated class action lawsuits in the United States. The settled U.S. lawsuits involve direct and indirect purchasers of bananas in the United States. These two U.S. settlements remain subject to various court approvals and required notices and are not affected by today's procedural developments in the European Commission's investigation. The European Commission investigation involves solely allegations with respect to the banana market in the EEA.
The Company will present its written and oral response to the Commission's Statement of Objections over the next several months.
Dole Food Company, Inc., with 2006 revenues of $6.2 billion, is the world's largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh-cut flowers. Dole markets a growing line of packaged and frozen foods and is a produce industry leader in nutrition education and research.
This release contains "forward-looking statements," within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Forward looking statements, which are based on management's current expectations, are generally identifiable by the use of terms such as "may," "will," "expects," "believes," "intends" and similar expressions. The potential risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied herein include weather-related phenomena; market responses to industry volume pressures; product and raw materials supplies and pricing; changes in interest and currency exchange rates; economic crises and security risks in developing countries; international conflict; and quotas, tariffs and other governmental actions. Further information on the factors that could affect Dole's financial results is included in its SEC filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K.