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GK gains US$12b from sale of investments

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Don Wehby, group chief operating officer of GraceKennedy Limited.

GraceKennedy Limited made US$12.3 billion from the sale of investments, which a top executive said Thursday was from the disposal of government bonds and other securities last year.

But group Chief Operating Officer Don Wehby sidestepped comment on whether the sale of the conglomerate's holdings in Versair In-Flite Services and Fidelity Motors to partner Goddard Enterprises was included.

The gains, disclosed in the company's earnings report for its financial year ending December 2009, "would have been held mainly by the banking and asset-management subsidiaries," said Wehby.

Still, the company's banking subsidiary, First Global, continues in the red with reported losses of $489 million for the year, signs that it is yet to shrug off the effects of the US$19.93-million trading loss that forced a rescue by parent GraceKennedy.

GraceKennedy closed the year with negative operating cash of $2.25 billion, down from $3.6 billion the year before. The proceeds from the sales boosted its net cash position back over $8 billion at the close of the year.

The conglomerate has also taken on additional leverage, disclosing loans of more than $17 billion, up from $15.7 billion in 2008.

The main uses of cash in the company's operation, according to Wehby, were in the form of loans to customers that amounted to $1.7 billion, repayment of deposits at $2.9 billion and repayment of repo liabilities totalling $1.5 billion.

For the reporting period, GK's indebtedness increased to $17.2 billion, compared with $15.7 billion in 2008, for the group and its subsidiaries.

The company also repaid some loans and refinanced others, amounting to $12.7 billion.

"These amounts include facilities repaid by our banking and asset-management subsidiaries as well as loans repaid by the food-trading subsidiaries and refinanced under new terms," said Wehby.

Three months ago, GK sealed a deal worth $1.875 billion, with Scotiabank obtaining financing to replace short-term bridge capital that was used to construct its 235,000-square foot warehousing and distribution hub at Bernard Lodge, a more than $2-billion investment.

- sabrina.gordon@gleanerjm.com