(Feb 6): The Philippine unit of Del Monte Pacific plans to raise up to US$324 million ($428 million) through a public share sale to pay existing loans, the company said on Tuesday.

The pineapple producer sought for the Securities and Exchange Commission's approval of Del Monte Philippines Inc's initial public offering (IPO).

Del Monte Philippines will sell 559.46 million shares, or 20% of outstanding shares, at a maximum price of 29.88 pesos each ($0.77), the company said in a disclosure to the Philippine and Singapore stock exchanges.

Majority of the IPO proceeds will be used to pay existing loans while remaining capital will be allotted for general corporate purposes.

"The prepayment of such loans will allow the Del Monte Pacific Group to de-leverage and strengthen its balance sheet," the company said.

Del Monte Philippines produces and exports fruit juices, packaged pineapples and mixed fruits, and various tomato and spaghetti sauces under the Del Monte brand.