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Safra-Cutrale calls Chiquita shareholders to start proxy fight

SAO PAULO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - The Brazilian Cutrale-Safra Group, which had an unsolicited bid for Chiquita Brands International Inc rejected by management on Thursday, started preliminary steps to launch a proxy fight in its hostile takeover attempt.

Brazilian juice maker Cutrale and a banking and real estate conglomerate Safra Group, which teamed up to make a $610.5 million cash offer for the U.S.-based banana producer on Monday, asked shareholders of Chiquita to vote against a planned merger with Irish tropical fruit company Fyffes Plc and adjourn a special shareholder meeting set for Sept. 17.

(Reporting by Reese Ewing; editing by Andrew Hay)