by: Mark Becker Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte city leaders tell Eyewitness News they were surprised to learn that the top management at the Chiquita company began informal merger talks with an Irish food company just weeks after Chiquita announced that it was moving its corporate headquarters to Charlotte.
The city, county and state put together a package of incentives that amounted to $22 million to bring Chiquita to Charlotte.
MORE: TIMELINE: Chiquita Brands
Chiquita announced in March that they had finalized a merger with the Fyffes Corporation -- a produce company based in Dublin, Ireland, and that the corporate headquarters would move to Dublin.
Filings with the Security and Exchange Commission released this week shows that Chiquita’s chairman had begun informal talks with the chairman of Fyffes in December 2011, but a corporate spokesman said those talks did not lead to the deal that was announced in March.
Some city leaders now say Charlotte should revisit those incentives and perhaps get some of its money back.
“My hope is that the city attorney is now going over that agreement with a fine-toothed comb,” said city councilman John Autry.
The city attorney wouldn’t comment but city officials confirm that they have already started talks with Chiquita revisiting that incentive package.
A spokesman for the company says they are keeping the 300 jobs they brought to Charlotte after the merger. The company has also made contributions to the community including an annual golf tournament.
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