Alarm bells ringing over auction of Sweet River Abattoir

Business

Alarm bells ringing over auction of Sweet River Abattoir

Seeks guidance from JSE on way forward

Friday, January 17, 2020

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The directors and major investors in the listed company and meat processor, Sweet River Abattoir, are raising alarm bells regarding the auction of the company's assets that took place on November 26 last year.

The directors and investors have raised grave concerns over the auction, declaring in an advisory to the Jamaica Stock Exchange that they are seeking guidance on the matter.

Last September, Sweet River Abattoir announced that it was selling out its assets following years of operating at a loss and defaulting on loans and credit agreements with their bankers, creditors and suppliers.

The directors and major investors declared that they have “major concerns as to certain events that have occurred prior to and at the action and is therefore seeking guidance on the matter. We continue to operate the facility, as even if the auction is finalised, there are several processes to be undertaken.”

RESTRUCTURING ALMOST COMPLETE

As it regards the restructuring of the company, the directors and major investors report that ”the process is all but completed, however, the recent events in particular, the auctioning of the facility, has delayed the formal notification. We hope to complete this by the end of February 2020.”

With regard to the delayed financials and annual reports, the directors say the process of completing and submitting those reports are ongoing and are at different stages of completion.

”We will commence the submission of the outstanding reports on an ongoing basis with the view of being fully compliant by the end of March 2020,” the directors promised in their advisory to the stock exchange, under the signature of Chairman Henry Graham.

Efforts by the Caribbean Business Report to contact Graham or any other principals of the Westmoreland-based company proved futile as the listed numbers are no longer active. The auction was conducted by CD Alexander Company Reality with the assets auctioned comprising lands spanning five acres and the two-storey building, measuring 16,800 square feet.

The ground floor holds a modern slaughterhouse, two offices and a welfare section, while the second floor contains a number of rooms and storage. The auction also involved specialised equipment for slaughtering.

RICHARD LAKE ACQUIRED ASSETS

It was reported that the assets were acquired for $1 million above the reserve price of $159 million by businessman Richard Lake.

Lake controls the local franchise of Burger King, Popeyes and Little Caesars through his private company, Restaurants Associates Limited.

Sweet River Abattoir has faced challenges since its listing on the junior stock market in 2014. It chalked up massive debt through its banker, First Global, to build a modern abattoir. The bank called in the loan last year after the company defaulted on a number of loan payments.

At last count in June last year Sweet River accumulated losses of $124 million with assets valued at $389 million, and equity at $19.6 million after factoring in liabilities.


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