Chiquita: Breakup with Charlotte to cost company up to $40 million

Chiquita Brands International said Wednesday that its divorce from Charlotte is expected to cost the company $25 million to $40 million, as the company pays severance costs and refunds state and local governments for incentives they paid to lure the company three years ago.

The company said last week that it plans to relocate its global headquarters from the NASCAR Plaza office tower, after a $681 million acquisition by two Brazilian companies that took Chiquita private. The company said in securities filings that closing the headquarters will take between 12 and 18 months.

Chiquita said much of its cost will consist of employee severance and relocation payments and the cost of exiting its Charlotte lease, which runs through 2025. The company didn’t specify how much those costs will total. Other costs are expected to include $10 million to $12 million worth of writeoffs of improvements to its building and office equipment, as well as incentives repayments that are expected to total $3 million.

Charlotte wooed Chiquita in 2011 with the promise of about $22 million worth of state and local incentives paid out over a decade. So far, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County say they’ve given the company about $500,000 each, and the state said it has paid Chiquita about $1.5 million.

The company employs about 320 corporate workers uptown. Chiquita hasn’t said how many jobs will be eliminated and how many will be relocated.