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Apr 29, 2010

The future of the citrus discussed in the valley

cpbl 1The annual general meeting for Citrus Products of Belize Limited held this afternoon in the Pomona Valley was a far cry from what transpired in front of the company’s gates last year.  Shareholders were refused entry onto the compound to attend the AGM during the height of tension between the Citrus Growers Association and CPBL.  That controversy revolved around members of the board of directors of CPBL for which the Citrus Growers Association, through its holding company ICL, controls fifty-one percent of shares in the citrus processing factory.  After months of litigation and a protest staged by citrus growers a landmark ruling was handed down by Justice Minnet Hafiz Bertram last week. The ruling did not allow CGA to immediately remove three directors because of the AGM that was scheduled for today. Isani Cayetano traveled to the citrus valley for the meeting where the new members were installed.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Today several shareholders gathered at the CGA compound where they were briefed by management chairman Bryon Bowman about what to expect at this year’s meeting.

Bryon Bowman, Chairman, CGA

“I trust we will have a very peaceful, orderly and hopefully very progressive meeting at C.P.B.L. today. So gentlemen finally the, I guess first stage of the battle has been won but the battle is not over.  There is a lot more to go but the ball is in our court, we are the only ones that can screw it up, in my opinion.”

With that the members drove the three mile stretch to C.P.B.L. where they checked in with security at the gate and were allowed to enter the compound.  While the meeting was held behind closed doors to the media, Bowman informed News Five that their agenda included discussing the finances of the company during the last fiscal year.

Bryon Bowman

bryon bowman

bryon bowman

“What was to have been discussed was the acceptance of the board of directors’ report of C.P.B.L., the financial statements, the elections of new directors to the board and the appointment of the auditor.”

Isani Cayetano

“It has been quite a controversial issue, the C.E.O.’s position and of course his former directorship of the Citrus Growers Association. Can you speak to us on whether or not that was discussed in this particular meeting?”

Bryon Bowman

“No.  His position as CEO was not discussed; he remains as C.E.O.. His position as director on the board; the new directors for Citrus Growers Association are Henry Anderson, Rosela Zabaneh, Antonio Zabaneh, Denzil Jenkins and Charles Woods. The investor appointed their same four directors so at this current moment Henry Canton is the C.E.O., he is not a director in the company.”

While Canton no longer holds a seat on the board there is still wide speculation of his tenure as the head of the multimillion dollar corporation.  According to Bowman Canton’s contract will be revisited when it expires next year.

Bryon Bowman

“My understanding is that his contract is up for renegotiation by May 2011.  That is all I know at this point in time. I think this gathering is hopefully, very symbolic of the reuniting and the restructuring of the citrus industry.  I think it’s the first step, we have a lot more to go but I feel like this now sets the pace where we can turn this industry around collectively to a much more profitable organization.”

It is reported that CPBL operated at a loss of eleven million dollars last year. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Banks Holdings did not attend the meeting; instead they were represented by their attorney. During today’s meeting a resolution was passed by shareholders of CPBL requesting a feasibility study on all of its subsidiaries and that a report be submitted to them within four months.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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