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DBJ and Wallendford still negotiating over cocoa assets

Published:Friday | January 8, 2016 | 2:11 PMCamilo Thame

More than a year later, sale of the assets of the Cocoa Industry Board to Michael Lee-Chin's Wallenford has still not been finalised, the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) said.

Wallenford Limited was selected as the preferred bidder in early September 2014, but the final outlines of a deal remain elusive.

"The privatisation of the commercial assets of the Cocoa Industry Board is at the stage where the GOJ is finalising the sale terms with the preferred bidder," the development bank said via email last week.

Once a deal is reached, the Ministry of Agriculture will seek Cabinet approval before the transaction is executed.

The assets of the cocoa board include fermentaries in Richmond, St Mary and Morgan's Valley, Clarendon; the Montrose cocoa farm, also located in Richmond; processing equipment at Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, and 13.7 acres of land with building at Haughton Court in Lucea, Hanover.

Details on the specific assets to be purchased and their corresponding value have still not been disclosed by the DBJ, which is leading the divestment of the state-owned assets on behalf of the agriculture ministry.

The Government, under the restructuring programme for its commodity boards, is exiting commercial operations in various agricultural markets, but will maintain its oversight role through a new entity to be known as the Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority.