Lehman Brothers Collection - Contemporary Business Archives

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Lehman Brothers Collection

Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Cuyamel Fruit Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

Cuyamel Fruit Company

List of Deals

Cuyamel Fruit Company was an American enterprise that owned thousands of acres of land in Honduras and produced bananas and sugar. Cuyamel Fruit also controlled a railroad in Honduras and several steamships in relation to its agricultural business.

In 1924 Barron's attributed the success of Cuyamel Fruit to having "effectively capitalized the love of the American for the fruit of the banana tree." Indeed, in the 1920s Cuyamel Fruit was the world's second largest seller of bananas and tropical fruit after United Fruit Company.

Cuyamel Fruit was incorporated in Delaware in 1923, though the annual meetings took place in New Orleans. Cuyamel Fruit also controlled a local company in Honduras called the Cortes Company, as well as the subsidiary companies of Bluefields Fruit and Transportation Company and the Sula Sugar Company. At the end of 1924 the combined current assets of Cuyamel Fruit, the Cortes Company, and their subsidiaries amounted to $3.97 million, with liabilities of $690,902 and earnings of $1.24 million. In 1925 Cuyamel Fruit issued $5 million of first mortgage fifteen-year sinking fund gold bonds brokered by Lehman Brothers; Goldman, Sachs & Company; A.G. Becker & Company; and Ames, Emerich & Company. These bonds were intended to retire $3 million in previously issued 7.5 percent bonds, to buy Ulua lands in Honduras, to retire debt, and to increase working capital.

In 1924 Cuyamel Fruit imported 6.6 million banana stems to the United States. By 1927 it imported 9 million banana stems, over 14 percent of the 61 million total imported to the United States that year. In 1929 President Samuel Zemurry of Cuyamel Fruit sold the property and assets of the company to United Fruit Company. By purchasing Cuyamel Fruit, United Fruit strengthened its hold on the American banana market by expanding to a two-thirds market share.

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