Thu | Sep 29, 2016

Coconut Board pulls back from Montpelier deal

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Coconut Industry Board has withdrawn its offer to purchase lands owned by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).

According to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the land at Montpelier in the parish of St James would have been divested to the Coconut Industry Board for $50 million.

Meanwhile, and the other piece of land at Shettlewood, Trelawny, was sold to Ramble Enterprises Limited for $52.46 million.

The release said both companies made the best offers following public advertisements for the sale of the lands.

However, when Sunday Business contacted the Coconut Board, it said the offer was withdrawn two weeks ago.

"We withdrew our offer on Monday (Feb 1)," said a spokes-person at the board who didn't want to be identified.

"We wanted to expand the industry but we are changing our focus and going into tissue culture instead."

According the spokesperson, the change of focus was influenced by the global economic downturn.

"We were definitely interested but we had to rethink our strategy," said the spokesperson.

DBJ told Sunday Business by email that a decision was pending on whether or not to readvertise the property.

"The DBJ is awaiting notification from Cabinet on this issue," the agency said.

zoned land

Last year, the DBJ had short-listed two investors who had bid for the nearly 3,000 acres of agricultural lands on which the former Jamaica Orange Company once operated a citrus orchard that failed.

The property, which borders Montpelier, St James, and Shettlewood in Hanover, was once the location of the largest single block of orange plantation in Jamaica.

The development bank initially got eight offers to buy the property, which was advertised for sale mid-2008.

The successful buyer would have to adhere to developing the land according to the purpose for which it is zoned, said the DBJ.

The land is zoned for specific purposes and changes would have to be approved by the GOJ, the DBJ said at the time.

The Montpelier Citrus Company Limited (MCCL), which had responsibility for the lands and is owned by DBJ, has accumulated losses of $358 million over the past five years, said OPM.

dionne.rose@gleanerjm.com