Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Lee-Chin to acquire cocoa assets

Published:Wednesday | September 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Tameka Gordon, Gleaner Writer

Michael Lee-Chin's Wallenford Limited has been selected as preferred bidder for the commercial assets of the Cocoa Industry Board, the Development Bank of Jamaica confirmed Tuesday.

The assets of the 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 were not disclosed by the DBJ, which is leading the divestment of the state-owned assets.

Wallenford Limited was selected as the preferred bidder with cabinet approval for negotiations to proceed granted in July, the DBJ said in emailed response to Wednesday Business queries.

Wallenford Limited is owned by Portland Holdings Inc, the parent company of Lee-Chin's AIC International Investments Limited (AIIL), which in 2013 also acquired the assets of Wallenford Coffee Company in a US$39.5 million transaction that is yet to close.

DBJ said it received three bids for the cocoa assets at the May 12 deadline for bid submission.

"Based on the results of the evaluation, Wallenford Limited was the preferred bidder," the DBJ said.

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 (ACRA).

Requests for comment to Portland Private Equity, Lee-Chin's holding company, were first fielded by managing partner Douglas Hewson, who deferred Mark McIntosh.

However, McIntosh declined to speak about the bid, citing a confidentiality agreement under the divestment programme.