Grace buys out minority shareholder in Belize venture

Sunday, October 07, 2012    

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Jamaican conglomerate GraceKennedy Group said it has acquired the 33 1/3 per cent minority stake in its Belize-based subsidiary.

The minority interest in GraceKennedy Belize Limited (GK Belize) was held by Roberto Espat Snr, the head of a well-known business family in the country. The transaction, which became effective on September 28, leaves Grace with full ownership of GK Belize, GraceKennedy said on Friday.

GK Belize is involved in the importation and distribution of a wide range of food and non-food grocery items throughout Belize. The company is the exclusive distributor of Grace and Grace-owned branded products in Belize.

Michael Ranglin, CEO of GK Foods, sought to reaffirm GK Belize's commitment to its customers and consumers.

"We will continue to be the company that is known and loved in Belize for its quality offerings. It is our intent to grow the business even more significantly there and we look forward to doing that in our new capacity as full owners," said Ranglin.

GraceKennedy's operations in Belize started 30 years ago, the result of a collaboration between GraceKennedy and the Espat family. Espat Snr, Roberto Espat Jnr and Rosemarie Espat have been active board members of GK Belize since January 1982.

GraceKennedy has been the majority shareholder and business operator since the inception of GK Belize, the company said. It added that Espat Snr recently decided to sell his minority stake in the company, and in keeping with the shareholders' agreement, his shares were offered to GraceKennedy.

GK Belize has built an important business for GraceKennedy in this Central American market, Grace noted.

GraceKennedy CEO Don Wehby said that the move is in keeping with the group's vision of becoming a global consumer group. He thanked the Espat family for the years of successful partnership and association through the joint venture.

"GraceKennedy has enjoyed the collaboration during the years of the partnership which was of mutual benefit to the partners." said Wehby. "The Espats were great to work with in developing the business over the last 30 years. We wish them all the very best in their future endeavours," he said.

Grace intends to earn a half of its profit from outside of Jamaica as it moves to become a global consumer group within the next eight years.

For the half year ended June 30, 2012, GraceKennedy reported a $1.2 billion net profit on revenues of $30.6 billion.



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