Wednesday, September 18, 2002

What's the Buzz?


Chiquita to brief investors

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        Don't expect Chiquita Brands International Inc. to pull out of Cincinnati, sell the company or change senior management when it presents results of a global review to investors next week in New York.

        Do expect plenty of talk about new fresh-fruit products bearing the Chiquita brand name, and also about productivity and efficiency.

        Some possible targets: Chiquita's troubled Panama operations and its canning operations in the upper Midwest.

        Chairman and CEO Cyrus Freidheim will present to Wall Street blue-suit types at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and the company is hoping for more than 100 attendees. Mr. Freidheim will unveil the results of his global review of Chiquita, the banana marketer that has gone through a miserable decade with more than $1.4 billion in losses, Chapter 11 bankruptcy and a revamped management.

        After shrugging off the investment community for years, this will be the “new” Chiquita's first foray to investors.

        “We have investors that call, and we try to answer their questions,” spokesman Mike Mitchell said. “But this is really the first major outreach we've made.”

        Chiquita isn't saying much about the review, which was aided by Booz Allen Hamilton, the global consultant where Mr. Freidheim worked before taking over Chiquita in March. But Mr. Freidheim has made it clear that there are plenty of hidden efficiencies available.

Member perks

        Starting this fall, about 6,800 businesses that are members of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce get the opportunity to spend more for a bigger package of services.

        Depending on the size of the company, members can spend between $149 and $595 — on top of their regular chamber dues — for MaxMembership. That will pay for networking events, booths at the ChamberExpo trade show, advisory board opportunities, e-mail alerts of new chamber members or other services.

        Invoices will go out Oct. 1, and the changes take effect in January.

        The program is part of chamber President Michael Fisher's drive to provide more focused membership packages and services to small and midsize companies, as well as large corporations. The chamber also has enhanced its base memberships.

        “We're trying to move out of the one-size-fits-all mindset,” said Myrita Craig, the chamber's new vice president for small business. “It was very important to our smaller members to have a choice.”

        Companies with fewer than 50 employees can pay $149 for up to four extra “perks.” Members with between 50 and 500 members can pay $595 for about a dozen enhancements.

        E-mail cpeale@enquirer.com or call 768-8573.

       

       



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- PEALE: What's the Buzz?