Jamaica Broilers takes flight from Haiti
...bullish on USA, J'can operations

After entering Haiti 12 years ago, Jamaica Broilers Group Limited (JBG) has decided to pull the plug and discontinue its operations in the French-speaking country, which has grappled with political and financial instability over the last year.

Although the company entered Haiti more than a decade ago, it formally established Haiti Broilers SA and its subsidiary T&S Rice SA, Haiti in the 2012 financial year (FY). In 2021, JBG acquired an additional 13.48 per cent in the Haitian parent company, located in Lafiteau, north of the capital of Port-au-Prince, for $29.92 million, bringing its ownership to 85.48 per cent.

Despite the capital injection, the Haitian operations recorded a 44 per cent drop in revenue to $1.33 billion in FY 2022, with losses skyrocketing to $364.51 million, up from $6.91 million. As a result, JBG recorded a $140.66-million impairment on its consolidated financials and a $904.19-million impairment on its investment in its Haitian operations on its company financials.

"Haiti is in a very bad position. We can't continue to do business over there. It was very unfortunate. We will sell what we can sell for sure. Some will be sold, but we are going to be winding down this financial year," JBG president and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Levy said in a call with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

An aerial view of the Haiti Broilers SA operation in Lafiteau, just north of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti

Haiti has suffered from bouts of violent unrest since 2019. Just last year in July the country's president was assassinated. A month later Haiti's south-western region suffered a massive earthquake.

For the first quarter of FY 2022/23, JBG's Haitian segment earned $85.63 million in revenue and generated $83.02 million in segment losses. However, the $841.96 million in Haitian assets only represents 1.34 per cent of the group's total assets.

Carl Eric Staco, the general manager for the Haitian operations, has confirmed the jurisdiction is unviable.

While the exit is bittersweet, Levy is bullish on the group's United States of America (USA) and Jamaican operations doing well. Its USA segment saw revenue jump 26 per cent to $9.21 billion and segment result rise 41 per cent to $814.83 million. The company also plans to deploy an extra US$20 million ($3.08 billion) into doubling the capacity of its US operations. The segment assets stand at $37.69 billion.

Levy...Haiti is in a very bad position

"We're seeing good opportunity there. We're definitely looking in that direction there," said Levy on the US operations and future prospects.

Revenue from JBG's Jamaican operation climbed 38 per cent to $13.69 billion with the segment result moving up 182 per cent to $1.88 billion, exceeding the $841.82 million set in 2018. JBG's net profit attributable to shareholders was flat at $1.08 billion in the first quarter. Total assets were up 18 per cent to $62.68 billion with equity attributable to shareholders up 16 per cent to $22.01 billion.

JBG will pay a dividend of $0.36 on November 10 to shareholders on record as of October 13. This payment totals $431.74 million. JBG's stock price is flat year to date at $28.78, which gives it a market capitalisation of $34.52 billion.

"Jamaica is doing very well. The tourism sector is doing very well for us," Levy closed.

BY DAVID ROSE Observer business writer davidr@jamaicaobserver.com

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