Since 2006, Banks Holdings Limited, the beverage giant out of Barbados has been a 46% shareholder in Citrus Products of Belize Limited. Though at the time, Banks was supposed to have been a strategic investor to help grow the company, their presence in the Pomona Valley has never been a happy arrangement. On one side, the Citrus Growers Association - which owns 51% of CPBL has long been trying to force out Banks - and, on the other, for some time now, Banks has been trying to sell its shares - which has been a wasting investment in an industry experiencing severe decline and steady losses.
Well, both sides may have finally gotten their wish - even as the citrus industry staggers into an uncertain future. 7News has confirmed that CPBL yesterday held a hastily called Annual General Meeting for the main business of passing a resolution to reacquire Banks' shareholdings - reportedly for cents on the dollar.
But, even though the shares were on offer at a deep discount - the majority shareholder - the cash strapped CGA, didn't have the finances to buy it directly. So, we're told, another company called "Homeland Investments" has entered the picture.
A company search shows that Homeland Investments - formed in February of 2021 - features agribusiness giant, Eugene Zabaneh as its principal.
As we understand it - the very complicated arrangement is that Homeland will buy CGA's shares in CPBL. That sale will earn CGA the finances to then purchase the Banks Shares for a fire sale price. After that, CGA would then buy back its own shares from Homeland and emerge again as the super-majority shareholder of Citrus Products of Belize Limited - with their bane, Banks Holdings headed back to Barbados on a one way ticket.
And probably no one is happier for that than Banks - which has seen plenty problems and very little profits in the company's 15 years in Belize. CGA now takes virtually sole ownership in a company at the lead of an industry where in 2020/2021, deliveries plunged by 35.7%, and there was a 39% falloff in citrus juice production.
We're told Lennox Neal has been selected to lead CPBL out of these doldrums once the deal is finalized. He would be the new CEO, filling a post that has been vacant for the last few years.Channel 7