Thursday, August 5, 2010

Belize Citrus Growers have 90 days to find $65 million.


Citrus Growers Association unable to convince minority shareholder ( Bank Holding ) to change the INVESTMENT AGREEMENT of $65 million that built the modernized factory.

The CGA though the majority shareholder are stuck with the investment agreement that the lawyers for the minority shareholder Banks Holding of the Eastern Caribbean drew up to protect the investment. Which gives the minority shareholder veto power over some Board members.

So far, the minority investor wants the Chairman of the Board of their choice and the Citrus Growers Association want the Board chairman, of their choice. The two sides are at odds.

Behind the sweet talk and blarney put forth by professional politician on the Board for the Citrus Growers Association, ( forget his name ) the fact is; that the CITRUS GROWERS ASSOCIATION want to loot, plunder and rape the earnings of the Citrus Factory. Right now they get their dividends, just like the minority shareholder. What they want is control of the Board of Directors, which in numbers of shares they have, but technically they haven’t, because of clauses in the INVESTMENT AGREEMENT of Banks Holdings, the minority shareholder has protections. These protections are to see that the citrus factory operates on a business like basis, that earnings go into maintainance and marketing to keep the factory operating at a profitable level, separate from the CGA investors group. That money pays off existing debts, and dividends are paid to both shareholders, the minority investor of $65 million and the CGA group.

What the CGA group want is to loot the earnings of the factory by controlling the Board. So far, they cannot even agree to elect a CHAIRMAN. Stalemate! The CGA are talking about buying out the minority shareholder, but that would take $65 million and they already have huge debts from mismanagement of the previous smaller factory that existed back to colonial times. My understanding is they have 90 days to put up or shut up! Nobody expects this bunch of wasteful pirates in the CGA to shut up though.

The historical past is that the CGA group has looted the factory revenues before. It doesn’t matter how much sweet talk, about fertilizing poorly maintained trees in small holdings to improve yields. They take the money and run, pay their vehicle insurance, pay their home light bills and generally squander the money that was and is supposed to keep the citrus trees they have in good shape, adequately fertilized and terrain clean of weeds. The small growers are playing at citrus growing, as dilettantes, and usually have other income streams from full time, or part time jobs, or business ventures. Then they start hollering for more money, over and above their delivery payments, dividends if any, and have insisted in the past that the FACTORY go into debt with loans to pay them money, due against future deliveries of questionable honesty. That is why they got to the point where they are now. They cannot run a factory business. As it is right now, the operations and problems of the small citrus growers should be theirs alone. Kept separate from FACTORY operations and revenue streams. That makes sense and Banks Holdings the minority investor who put up the $65 million are protecting their interest, which is a dividend and the plant infra structure. Good for them, I would do the same thing.

There is going to be a SHAKEOUT in the citrus industry. Already this is occurring as some major producers have had to go to court to establish their right to create their own Association, which they have done. They also have a small factory line for washing, cleaning and packing fresh whole fruit, which they are selling in foreign countries. In the past the government backed monopoly of the Citrus Growers Association enabled them through government intervention and political votes to threaten and cajol politicians into getting what they want. The latest court rulings have broken their monopoly and political power of a group vote control. How this SHAKEOUT is going to play out remains to be seen. It is however, a long needed development to put the citrus growing industry on a solid and much better footing. Playing pirates and looting and plundering the citrus factory in the past, as their private piggy bank, was a wrong way of doing things and just maybe a breath of fresh air is penetrating the citrus industry and finally it should become successful.

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