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Chiquita Hires Riley As New CFO

January 30, 2001

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Chiquita banana company, trying to work its way out of a multimillion-dollar debt, has hired former steel industry executive James B. Riley as chief financial officer.

Riley, 49, also will serve as a senior vice president of Chiquita Brands International Inc., the company said Tuesday. He succeeds Warren J. Ligan, who resigned last year.

Riley will be responsible for treasury, accounting, information technology, risk management and auditing operations. He reports to Steven G. Warshaw, Chiquita’s president and chief operating officer.

Riley had been senior vice president and chief financial officer of Elliott Co., a power generation equipment maker in Jeannette, Pa., since 1999. He previously was executive vice president and chief financial officer, and a founding director of Republic Engineered Steels Inc., of Massillon, Ohio.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Riley served as chairman of the Massillon Community Health Group until it merged with the Akron Health Group in May 1999. He also has worked for LTV Steel Co. and Marathon Oil Co.

Last week, Chiquita sued the European Commission to challenge banana import quotas that Chiquita says have cost it $1.5 billion, pushing the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

Company officials said they still hope for a negotiated settlement with European trade officials, but that talks and two years of U.S. trade retaliation in the international battle over bananas haven’t fixed the problems.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the Court of First Instance of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. European officials say the problems are Chiquita’s own fault.

Two weeks ago, Chiquita revealed that it is negotiating with bondholders for concessions intended to help the Cincinnati-based company work its way out of debt and avoid a possible bankruptcy filing.

Analysts said, however, that some of Chiquita’s problems date to the early 1990s when management increased debt by expanding the company’s shipping fleet, then didn’t pay it off in the years when Chiquita was still fiscally healthy.

Shares of Chiquita were up 5 cents, or almost 3 percent, to close at $1.76 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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