Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Another Chinese firm eyeing Monymusk sugar factory

Published:Tuesday | January 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMMark Titus/Gleaner Writer
A cane harvester in operation at Monymusk Sugar Estate, in Lionel Town, Clarendon.

COMPLANT, the parent company of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC), is now in the second phase of negotiations with another Chinese firm for the sale of Monymusk sugar factory in Clarendon.

According to the Chinese sugar manufacturer's spokes-person Sun Y' Dan, all matters relating to the sale of Monymusk are being handled by COMPLANT, but he said that no Jamaican operation had expressed an interest in taking over the factory.

"It's our parent company in China who has been discussing with potential investors who want to purchase Monymusk," Sun said in a telephone interview with The Gleaner yesterday. "There is one Chinese company who they are now in discussions with, but no final decision has been made just yet."

"The discussions are ongoing. It is now at a point of in-depth talks, but no decision as yet ... . Still checking around (conducting further due diligence)," she said.

The Chinese are desperate to unburden themselvesof the operation, which has been responsible for almost $6 billion dollars in losses, since it was purchased from the Government, along with the Bernard Lodge and Frome estates in 2009.

Yallahs International Inc, which lost in its bid to purchase Long Pond Estate in the early 1990s to British firm Tate & Lyle, says it has also communicated its interest to the Chinese, but PCSC says it has no such information.

"We have had no talks with that company and we have not met with them," Sun said, when quizzed on likely interest from the locals.

Monymusk can be a viable operation

Karl James, one of the most respected voices in the local sugar industry and who also chairs the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, believes the Monymusk sugar factory can be a viable operation for an investor with the requisite capital, and he supports any move to keep the facility running.

"Monymusk has been nicely upgraded by the Chinese and is now in a position to produce all the energy it needs from bagasse, which will then see enough energy to run the wells that provide the irrigation for the cane fields ... which has always been the biggest problem there," said James.

"If they can generate their own electricity, then the high operational cost will be reduced drastically and there are plenty lands available and a group of farmers willing and ready to play their part to make a success of Monymusk."

The Gleaner also understands that the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association is also in talks with a group from India to make a joint bid to purchase the property, but for the Chinese, this could be too little, too late.