CINCINNATI (AP) _ Chiquita Brands International Inc. filed Wednesday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under an agreement reached earlier to reduce the company's debt by about $700 million.

Managers had said they expect that the deal with bondholders would shorten Chiquita's time under reorganization.

The deal will not affect Chiquita's subsidiaries _ including the banana exporter _ or their $413 million debt.

``It is our plan to emerge from Chapter 11 in the first quarter of 2002 with a solid balance sheet and a bright future,'' Steven G. Warshaw, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. ``With the recent settlement of the U.S.-EU banana trade dispute, we will have even stronger prospects for revenue and earnings growth.''

Cincinnati-based Chiquita has struggled financially in recent years because of a worldwide glut of bananas and a drop in their prices, and a long battle over European banana import quotas that Chiquita regarded as unfair. The European Union's quotas cost Chiquita millions of dollars, management said.