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#412235 - 07/21/11 01:59 PM Banco Atlantida Eyes BSI
Marty Offline
BSI, the Belize Sugar Industries is at a crossroads. The 2011 crop is over - and it underperformed; they were 250,000 thousand tones short of cane delivered producing just under one hundred thousand tons of sugar when as much as 118 thousand tons were projected.

So it was not a great year in terms of production, but overall quality was at a record high and a significant improvement in the cane price is expected to come out next week.

But that doesn't change the fact that BSI has to pay the ING Group $30 million US dollars by September of this year.

And that's where investor Banco Atlantida comes in with a proposal for a debt for equity swap.

Of course, it's not that simple; the big question is whose equity will get swapped?

The employees' trust owns 82% of BSI. We today asked the Prime Minister if that majority holding will have to be sold out to give way to the Banco Atlantida bailout. Here's what he had to say about an intricate, complex situation...

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
Banco Atlantida won't put in their 90 million US, except they get certain legislative changes, and I have to be sure that the farmers are prepared to accept those legislative changes. We had a meeting - what was it - a week an a half ago, and we agreed that I should invite Banco Atlantido to come now, and to talk to the farmers directly in my presence. That meeting has been fixed for 2 0'clock. I expect to get through with the House business by then, on Friday. That meeting is fixed for 2 o'clock in the Cabinet Room in Belmopan."

Jules Vasquez
"Is it a fact that this is the only way forward with this crop having under-performed, and with the present difficulties with ING and I think First Caribbean as well?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I don't see any other way, quite frankly, I don't. I got to just leave it at that. We clearly need - BSI on its own - forget for a minute the 30 million dollars that's owed - the 30 million US dollars that's owed, that ING has called in. Even if you leave that aside, going forward, BSI needs capital injection by way of operating capital. They need to make certain repairs to the factory. Let me just summerize it in that way. BSI needs operating capital. If you both have to repay a 30 million US dollar loan, and get additional funds to take you forward, clearly this - at Banco Atlantida, interest is something that, in my view, must be looked at in every seriousness. And if there is any way we can come to an agree so that the 90 million US dollars can be invested in the sugar industry, we ought to come to that."

Jules Vasquez
"So the Employees' Trust's hands are being held to the fire?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"I don't know the Employee's Trust, because I haven't spoken to them, but I believe objectively that's perhaps not the happiest way of putting it, but I think it's the truths. What are we going to do? If the employees were to say, 'You know what, we don't want to see Banco Atlantida to take a majority stake in the factory, how are we going to go forward? But Government..."

Jules Vasquez
"They'll ask for the Government bail-out."

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"But Government, lord man, we came up with 10 million dollars last year. To come up with not just 60 million more to pay off ING, 60 million plus another 30 that Banco Atlantida is talking about - or perhaps 40 - no we can't find 100 million dollars. Much as we would like to, we don't have it. And so, I think all of us must recognize what the reality of the situation is, and to deal with Banco Atlantida."

Channel 7


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#412242 - 07/21/11 02:08 PM Re: Banco Atlantida Eyes BSI [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Banco Atlantida ready for buyout of B.S.I. factory and holdings

Honduras’ Banco Atlántida’s interest in a buyout of Belize Sugar Industries was revealed earlier this year. In January representatives of the Honduran bank visited the factory at Tower Hill in Orange Walk along with experts in factory and field work. With millions of dollars in loans owed to I.N.G. and First Caribbean Bank, a buyout could possibly prevent a shutdown of the factory, since millions more are needed to inject capital into the mill. The Prime Minister said today that he thinks a deal can be worked out with the Honduran bank. He has been meeting with cane farmers to get their viewpoint but the majority shareholdings in the factory are held by the Employees Trust. According to the PM, a deal could be tabled at the end of the week as Banco Atlántida and stakeholders are expected to meet with him immediately following Friday’s House Meeting in the Capital.

Dean Barrow

Dean Barrow

“The current management at B.S.I. has met with the employees trust and I am told that those discussions have been going well in terms of an acceptance of the need for Banco Atlantida to come in. I have concentrated on talking to the farmers because while they don’t own B.S.I., they are the ones who are the other principal stake holders. And Banco Atlantida won’t put in their ninety million U.S. unless they get certain legislative changes and I have to be sure that the farmers are prepared to accept those legislative changes. We had a meeting a week and a half ago and we agreed that I should invite Banco Atlantida to come down and talk to farmers directly in my presence. That meeting has been fixed for two o’clock. I expect to get through with the House business by then on Friday. That meeting is fixed for two o’clock in the cabinet room in Belmopan. We clearly need B.S.I. on its own. Forget for a minute the thirty million U.S. dollars that’s owed; that ING has called in. Even if you leave that aside, going forward B.S.I. needs capital injection by way of operating capital. They need to make certain repairs to the factory. Let me just summarize it in that way. B.S.I. needs operating capital. If you both have to repay a thirty million U.S. dollars loan and get additional funds to take you forward, clearly this Banco Atlantida interest is something that in my view must be looked at in every seriousness and if there is any way that we can come to an agreement so that that ninety million U.S. dollars can be invested in the sugar industry, then we ought to come to that. What are we going to do if the employees say we don’t want to see Banco Atlantida take a majority stake in the factory, how are we going to move forward? We came up with ten million dollars last year, but to come up with not just sixty million more to pay off ING, but sixty million plus another thirty that Banco Atlantida is talking about—maybe even forty—now we can’t find a hundred million dollars. Much as we would like to, we don’t have it all. So I think that all of us must recognize what the reality of the situation is and try to deal with Banco Atlantida. I don’t have the sense that they are trying to drive a ridiculous bargain.”

Channel 5


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#412349 - 07/23/11 02:18 PM Re: Banco Atlantida Eyes BSI [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Will Banco Atlantida Own BSI?

This afternoon in Belmopan - after the house meeting - high level meetings were held in the Cabinet room between Banco Atlantida, a potential investor in BSI, and principals of that company.

As we've reported, BSI is in dire straits; simply put, it can't pay its loans - and its got tens of millions of dollars of them.

Enter Banco Atlantida from Honduras which want to buy controlling interests in the troubled company - in what's called a debt for equity swap: basically it will pay off the most pressing debts and get an equal amount of control of the company in exchange.

That's the proposal - but it's complicated, because 81% of BSI is owned by a workers trust and they would have to agree to sell to Banco Atlantida.

And now there's another wrinkle. Today in the House of Representatives Opposition Leader John Briceno proposed another possibility: he says the Cane Farmers now want a stake in the company - and they'd like government to front the money. That didn't sit too well with the PM who's trying to land Banco Atlantida as safely as possible. Here's how their exchange went:,.,.

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"The Prime Minister says that there is no option. That what he says on Channel 7 and I quote "I think all of us must recognize the reality of the situation is and to deal with Banco Atlantida." The Prime Minister is being dis-ingenious Mr. Speaker because there is another option. There is a better option. Our own cane farmers have told the Prime Minister that they want to buy shares in BSI. The Prime Minister claims that his government cannot find the money to put into this industry. to give our own people so that our industry can remain Belizean. But Mr. Speaker that he pull 70 million dollars out of the Social Security and Central Bank hat for BTL. So why can't the Prime Minister find 70 million dollars for the cane industry which is truly Belizean and has a direct impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Belizeans in the North. I repeat again we in the PUP will not allow the Prime Minister and BSI management to sell out BSI workers and screw the Belizean cane farmers. If we have to take to the streets we will."

PM Dean Barrow
"There is no question of anybody selling out the sugar industry in this country in this country and if anybody wanted to sell out the sugar industry it couldn't be me and the government - we don't own the sugar industry. What you are talking about saving the sugar industry and you are talking about what? 70 million dollars and surely this government can find 70 million dollars. Again you parade your ignorance - there is nothing wrong with not knowing, but when you seek to make a virtue of ignorance something has to be totally unbalanced, you must be on hinge. BSI owed ING and SCIB 30 million, Belcogen own by BSI owed another 30 million and we are talking about US dollars. So in terms of the indebtedness of BSI you are talking about 60 million US dollars a part from the 10 million Belize that they owed us. But you are inter lucky as the interviewers always ask you, what is your suggestion? What is your solution? You have none. You are incapable of any serious or deep thought and I am telling I am not going to be afraid to say that as of now that Banco Atlantida offer in principle is something that we must look at seriously. Right now Banco Atlantida is the only game in town. Why is the Leader of the Opposition going to suggest that the workers should hang on to the factory at all cost? when inherent in what he said is this truth and if you didn't make it clear, let me articulate it. They have not receive a penny in dividends for their shareholding in 12 -13 years - not a penny in shareholdings, so you are saying that Banco Atlantida which is not looking to buy all the workers shares, they want a majority ownership - they want 51%. This was in the political interest of the People United Party. This you feel is a way of trying to revive your flagging fortunes or your none existent fortunes in the north of the country where you are from. You want the industry to collapse because you think that as the industry dies so is your political career resuscitated."

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"For the Prime Minister to come to the National Assembly and to accuse me that I want the sugar industry to fail is simply wrong and he says certain things in there because he has parliamentary privilege and does not dare to say it out here. As usual the Prime Minister doesn't attack the message he attacks the messenger and he can continue attacking the messenger. t makes no difference for me because I am confident that the people of Orange Walk Central are one again going to give me that support whenever he decides to call election. He can call it now if he wants and I could bet you that I am going to be re-elected by the people of Orang Walk Central. So he can continue the personal attacks."

Jules Vasquez
"You work to energize and mobilize cane farmers against Banco Atlantida buy over?"

Hon. John Briceno, Leader of the Opposition
"I want to work and energize Banco Atlantida to come in and do the right thing - to make the monies available for the cane farmers so that they could expand their sugar crop or their cane fields. I want to ensure that Banco Atlantida can bring in more monies if that's what they want to do so that they could continue to invest along with cane farmers and the BSI employees."

There was no word from the Prime Minister's office this evening on how the meeting went. We hope to have that on Monday. And in the middle of all this there is another prickly matter. In his rebuttal, the Prime Minister mentioned that he had seen an email with the Leader of the Opposition's speaking points for this subject. The PM said that made it clear that the PUP hope to derail the negotiations and exploit its demise for political reasons.

The leader of the opposition then accused the Prime Minister of hacking into his email - which he says poses privacy risks for all Belizeans. This evening via text message the Prime Minister told us that there was no hacking involved; he says the email was leaked to him from within the PUP…

Channel 7


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