Parties finalizing sale to American Sugar Refining
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 27, 2012
Chairman of the Belize Workers Union (BWU), Ramiro R. Gongora, confirmed to Amandala today that workers have been informed via a bulletin circulated last Friday, August 24, that they will finally get their long overdue dividends for shares they hold in the Belize Sugar Industries – the country’s only sugar processing facility.
Gongora, an industrial mechanic who has worked with the BSI since 1994, said that those persons who have retired or who have gone off as medically unfit should be paid 100% of what is due to them, while those who have been fired, released due to redundancy, or who remain on staff, would be paid 50% of what is due to them, until the remainder of the payments are disbursed in two more tranches. According to Gongora, workers have not received dividends since 1998.
BSI is being purchased by American Sugar Refining (ASR) and as a part of that multi-million-dollar deal, workers, who own 81% of the factory, had been assured that all outstanding dividend payments would be cleared within a year and a half.
Minister of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development, Immigration and National Emergency Management, Senator Godwin Hulse, who is also a member of the BSI’s board of directors, confirmed to Amandala this morning that the dividend payment is due at the end of this month.
Hulse said that the share subscription deed has been signed and there is a plan for BSI to settle its outstanding debts with creditors within a month. The terms of the final agreement with ASR, Hulse said, are still being refined.
In a press release issued today, BSI’s CEO Joey Montalvo, speaking for the BSI Group, confirmed that the subscription deed was signed on Thursday, August 23, 2012.
He went on to say: “The process to conclude the investment by American Sugar Refining, Inc. (ASR) is advancing well and in accordance with the target timetable.”
Montalvo also informed that meetings were held in mid-July to advance final negotiations on the subscription deed (purchase agreement) and the shareholders’ agreement.
“Since then, BSI and ASR have continued to be actively engaged and fully committed to expediting the process in the context of the defined timetable for completion of the transaction,” he added.
Gongora told us that the BWU has not seen any of these agreements, and they believe that they need to see copies of those documents before they are finalized.
BSI said that the parties, BSI and ASR, will press on to concluding the deal. They also plan to formally engage BSI lenders, as well as BELCOGEN, regarding loan repayment and release of security upon the deal’s completion.
“Efforts by all parties remain focused on concluding the entire transaction at the very earliest,” Montalvo said.
BSI workers overwhelmingly voted towards the end of May to support the sale to ASR.