August 12/New York/Wall Street Journal -- Dole Food Co. has agreed to be acquired by chairman and chief executive David Murdock in a sweetened $1.2 billion deal.

Investors will receive $13.50 a share in cash, an increase of $1.50 a share from Murdock's June proposal, and a premium of 32% over the share price immediately before that proposal.

The fruit-and-vegetable producer in June formed a special committee to consider Murdock's offer. The new deal is valued at $1.6 billion including the assumption of debt.

The agreement allows for a "go-shop" period of 30 days, during which the special committee, with the assistance of Lazard Ltd., will chase and consider alternate proposals.

The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter.

The 90-year-old billionaire first took the California company private in 2003 for $2.5 billion and then took it public again in 2009, raising $446 million by selling shares at $12.50 each. That gave the company a value of just over $1 billion at the time.

Dole launched a strategic review of its business in May of last year after reporting a slump in profit. The company said at the time that potential actions could include a full or partial separation of one or more of its businesses, potential spinoffs, joint ventures and sales transactions.

Along those lines, Dole sold its worldwide packaged-foods and Asia fresh-produce businesses to Japan's Itochu Corp. in April for about $1.69 billion in cash.