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#500249 - 01/23/15 04:03 AM Port Of Belize, Itís For Sale
Marty Online   happy
And while the stevedores reload their strategy, the Port of Belize is for sale. You probably remember that 3 years ago in January of 2012, the Ashcroft Alliance declared that the port was in receivership - and took it over. Now, three years later, CEO Tux Vasquez is still the receiver - and he says his job is to improve the asset so that it can be sold. Today he discussed with us the investments that have been made and what happens next:...

Arturo "Tux" Vasquez, CEO - Port of Belize Limited
"We have invested to date about six and a half to seven million dollars and it has been mainly in heavy equipment, infrastructure, in staffing, but the majority has gone in heavy equipment. Port operations are measured by the amount of containers we moved per hour and without proper equipment, you could be very well down to 7-9-10 containers per hour. We have brought that up to 17 containers per hour, sometimes a bit more, but those are averages that are acceptable in moving containers."

Jules Vasquez
"Now, all these improvements are with a view to making it prime for sale?"

Arturo "Tux" Vasquez
"Obviously, as it becomes better, it can actually attract a better price as well."

Jules Vasquez
"Are there offers for sale being made? The port is up for sale and people are trying to buy it?"

Arturo "Tux" Vasquez
"Yes, the port is for sale, but it's not just for sale, I wouldn't say not to anybody, but the idea of selling the Port of Belize for me, my view as the receiver is not just selling it to somebody who has the money to pay for it. This port has to be sold where you know that if you are passing it on to a new owner, it has to be somebody who has port expertise and can actually improve the port as it is. So, for me as the receiver, it's not just to recover the funds, but also to make sure that it's sold to an entity that can add value to this operation. But we have had people interested yes. There are people who have been interested and we have entertained a few of them, but we have not gotten to any point of any serious investor who has actually came into the port to look into details. We have made our doors open to people who are interested, we have given tours, we have talked about it, we have talked about the operations of the port, we have provided some very minimal information. But we haven't got to a point with any party that actually wants to get into due diligence and all that. But, that shouldn't be too far in the future. We are talking to a couple of people, international people. If they are interested, we may get to that point. I do think that investors who invest in the port, also have quite a bit of information or dealings with the government because selling the port would not only be up to me. Yes, I can sell, but it would have to be in conjunction with the government. It is the primary port and the government would also have to be sort of in agreement to say... I would not be doing this without keeping the government informed as to how I am moving."

We'll try to get comment from government in the days to come.

Channel 7

#500928 - 02/11/15 04:00 AM Re: Port Of Belize, Itís For Sale [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

A Prospective Purchaser For The Port?

Three weeks ago the CEO of the Port of Belize, Arturo Vasquez told 7News that the Port of Belize is for sale. He explained that it's not being actively shopped around, but as receiver for the Port, he is entertaining offers from prospective buyers.

And one local investor emerged. He is Lawrence Ellis, the owner of BML - which up until a month ago was cleaning up the city. Ellis has been seeking financing in Mexico, and today a delegation of investors came from the state of Monterrey. Ellis and one of the would-be financiers told us why he is the right man to own the port of Belize:..

Lawrence Ellis, Interested in Buying Port
"We made formal letter of interest to the receiver. We presented our case to them and we are waiting for them to respond to us."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you anticipate that you will be able to put financing in place for the Port of Belize?"

Lawrence Ellis, Interested in Buying Port
"We have several institutions that are very interested. All we need to know now is to get into the Port and to do nondisclosure to see if the actual operation of the Port - the financial status of the Port, the actual operation of the Port to see what can we actually offer for the Port. But, yes, if it's a feasible project, we can have the financing."

Jules Vasquez
"Has the receiver indicate a willingness to entertain your proposal?"

Lawrence Ellis, Interested in Buying Port
"Yes. I spoke to him the other day and he said that we are still in the running. We have submitted all the relevant information and we must wait until he gets back to us - until the bank respond to us."

Jules Vasquez
"How important is it that the Port have the strategic investment or have principal shareholders from a Belizean?"

Lawrence Ellis, Interested in Buying Port
"It's very important. This is our national port. With this port, this is one of the major income earners for the Government of Belize and so it is very important to the government. This Port cannot be allowed to close down not even for a day. We need to understand that most of the foreign investors that are interested in the port is interested in mechanizing the port to a certain level that there will not be as much employees, especially the stevedores and other people like that. And me being a Belizean recognizing that and recognizing the political implication of that and we are willing to work along with the stevedores."

Francisco Turueno, Organizing Mex Investor Group
"The idea of our group is not to start cutting of employment, because we understand what is happening in your country and it is not a right approach to achieve this. We are more or less conscious. Getting money is not just a matter of arranging numbers. Getting money is a matter of arranging all of the variables of the enterprise."

Jules Vasquez
"A criticism might be, well you just the front. Some Mexicans will bring the money and you front for them and then it will look like a Belizean picture, but really, it would be the Mexican investors who are reaping from the investment. Explain to me what's you plan, what your model?"

Lawrence Ellis, Interested in Buying Port
"Jules, when I started BML I was fronting. When I bought SEL, I was fronting. I have never fronted for anybody. I presented myself always. I presented myself to Paco and he believe in what I was trying to do and this is going to be 100% Belizean owned."

Francisco Turueno, Organizing Mex Investor Group
"We made our due diligence process to understand who was Mr. Ellis, who is he representing and we are convinced that we can achieve for him what he has requested. We have approach several institutions within Mexico and several other countries in which we have some business relationships and being an infrastructural project, they are interested as always. Their interest is to profit from their investment, but not to control the operation and not to rip it off from the original management or the original control group."

Lawrence Ellis, Interested in Buying Port
"Because people might mention what is your port experience. I might not have port experience, I am a manager and I have manager experience. We will hire port experience. So, it's not a difficult thing to do."

Francisco Turueno, Organizing Mex Investor Group
"Operating a port is not for an entrepreneur that is not knowledgeable about what a port has to do. But we have contacted persons that are worldwide known port operators, port managers, port technology providers and they are interested, because they see Belize as strategic point in the future."

And how much for the Port? Well, no one would talk specifics, but we understand it is upward of 100 million dollars.

And so now that BML no longer has the contract to clean up the city - we wondered, how is Ellis doing now that he no longer has to worry about coming up with payroll for 158 workers weekly? He said, just fine:...

Jules Vasquez
"How is life for you now?"

Lawrence Ellis, Owner - BML
"Much calmer, much more peaceful. It was good run Jules, it's over. It was good while it lasts. I gain a lot of experience, managing people, all different levels of people. I've grown as a business man. It was one of the best experience I ever had. I will never regret it, but it's time to move on now."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you still owed?"

Lawrence Ellis, Owner - BML
"I am still owed yes. We have, yesterday I think, came with a final agreement on the final judgment outstanding and that should be sign yesterday or today."

Jules Vasquez
"How much is the ballpark?"

Lawrence Ellis, Owner - BML
"The ballpark is around 2.8 million."

Jules Vasquez
"Wow, that's a lot to leave on the table."

Lawrence Ellis, Owner - BML
"Well it's not left on the table. Like I said, we just came to a final financial agreement and how the council would pay."

We could not get confirmation of that figure from City Hall.

Channel 7


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