Dole Food Co. Inc. said it completed a debt refinancing, locking in lower rates that will reduce annual interest expense by about $23 million.

Dole refinances debt

The refinancing included extending the maturity of Dole’s shortest-term debt to 2013 and provides for the redemption the remaining $70 million principal of its senior notes due in 2011, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company said in a March 3 news release.

Dole was “very pleased with the high level of market interest in this transaction,” chief executive officer David DeLorenzo said in the statement. “The interest rates that we achieved with these amendments are at the favorable end of the pricing ranges that had been discussed.”

Amendments to Dole’s credit facilities provide $850 million of term debt due 2017 and up to $350 million of revolving debt due 2014, the company said. Dole currently has no borrowings outstanding on the revolving credit facility.

Dole, the world’s biggest fresh fruit and vegetable producer, had $1.86 billion in long-term debt as of Oct. 10, up from $1.8 billion at the beginning of 2009, according to a government filing.

During the first three quarters of 2009, Dole’s interest expense rose to $158 million from $137 million in the same period in 2008, the company said in a Nov. 19 statement.