(Reuters) - Fruit and fresh vegetable distributor Dole Food Co Inc received an unsolicited buyout offer from Chief Executive David Murdock valuing the company at just over $1 billion.

The $12 per share offer from Murdock, who already owns about 40 percent of the company, represents a premium of about 18 percent to the stock's close on Monday.

The offer has an enterprise value of $1.5 billion, Murdock said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company said it would establish a special committee of independent directors to consider the proposal.

Murdock, who is also Dole's chairman, took over as CEO in February after David DeLorenzo left to run two businesses sold by Dole to Japan's Itochu Corp .

Murdock said Deutsche Bank would advise on the transaction, adding that he received a "highly confident" letter from the lender on the financing for the deal.

Dole shares were up about 16 percent at $11.85 in light trading before the bell on Tuesday. They closed at $10.20 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Pallavi Ail in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)