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New York investors purchase large Florida agribusiness

A group of private investors in New York has gone in on a majority interest in Fort Myers-based agribusiness Alico Inc., one of the largest private landowners in Florida.

The all-cash $138 million deal involves 50.5% of Alico's outstanding voting stock, purchased by 734 Agriculture, a private investment company owned by Remy Trafelet and George Brokaw, in partnership with Arlon Group, a global food and agriculture investment firm.

The majority stake will be valued at $37 per share and is due to close in the next 30 to 45 days.

Family-owned holding company Atlantic Blue Group previously owned the voting stock, but was sold due to tax reasons. Atlantic Blue Group is part of late citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr.'s estate. His heirs include former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

Florida citrus grower Clay Wilson will be the new CEO, though the company doesn't foresee any substantial changes in focus or operations.

Alico owns 130,000 acres in central and south Florida, 11,000 acres of which are under production for citrus. Alico also specializes in sugar cane and cattle ranching.


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