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Jul 26, 2011

Senator Hulse says Banco Atlantida has a good deal for B.S.I.

The fate of the sugar industry has been the subject of several high level meetings over the past week. The Honduras based Banco Atlántida has proposed a buyout of majority shares in the Belize Sugar Industry, an investment of ninety million US dollars that could make the difference to keep the mill grinding.  Who controls B.S.I., also controls the direction and future of the sugar industry and has a say in the livelihood of six thousand plus cane farmers and their families in the two northern districts.  Last week Friday the government, the bank and one of the cane farmers associations met and discussed the proposal. There is already opposition to the sale, but Senator Godwin Hulse, who also sits on the B.S.I. board, says the question would be posed to the employees since it’s the workers trust that holds the largest share in the company.

Godwin Hulse, Senator

“Well, we’ll know that this afternoon actually. We’re having a meeting this afternoon with the protectors who are the representatives of workers trust and we will know that for sure. But as far as I know, there’s been no major objection. The C.E.O., Mister Joey Montalvo, at the last annual general meeting which was held about three weeks ago, raised the subject and informed the employees what was the position. Quite frankly as you know, there has been some difficulty with profits of B.S.I. While it has been rumored that the employees trust have not gotten any dividends, it’s not really true. Dividends have accrued, just simply have not been paid because there has been an arrangement with the bankers to defer the payment of the dividends, but it’s not a question that dividends have not accrued to the trust. However, put it this way, and I will say that a bigger piece of a smaller pie is better than no piece of a bigger pie. So we have to look at a situation where if this bank comes in and it is really the best offer B.S.I. has had so far, the kinks have to be worked out but really if they are worked out in a sober manner, everybody could win.”

Godwin Hulse

Senator Hulse says that the industry desperately needs expansion. More cane needs to be planted to increase sugar production, a point emphasized by the constant cross border shipments of sugar to neighboring countries.  Would prices change with a buyout from Banco Atlántida? And would BSI entertain an offer from Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association.  Senator Hulse’s responses were clear and so far its Banco Atlántida that has made the only offer, one which he thinks is healthy for all parties involved.

Godwin Hulse

“The only guarantee they wanted was the right to grow some of their own cane. And the legislation right now does not necessarily allow that. So they would want the Sugar Act to be amended to allow them to grow cane. And any investor would want to grow cane because they want to ensure adequate supply of raw material. And that is straightforward. This country needs more cane; we should have been growing two million tons, three million tons. Mien we should have expanded the factory, their markets is in Guatemala, Mexico, all over the place. You’ve been hearing our sugar going over the border. In fact, I have been accused of doing this—which is not correct. I bought three percent of the total sugar sold this year from B.S.I. so far and sold it through my commodity store in Belmopan to anybody who goes there. But I won’t enter that debate. The fact of the matter is; if there is such a demand, we should be filling the demand.  That is what we should be doing—exporting rice, sugar, beans flour, citrus and grow, grow, grow. The country could be a Singapore that way. Why not?”

Jose Sanchez

“Even if Banco Atlántida takes over, would it have an effect on the actual price being that in the export market the price is a lot higher?”

Godwin Hulse

“Well, yes and no. I mean you have to understand that our markets in Europe are fixed by agreement and those agreements between the European Union and ACP countries—we don’t necessarily dictate those prices. The prices in the United States are fixed by them. We have a quota in the U.S. I think it is about nineteen thousand tons. This year we sold thirteen plus. Europe; we are now duty free, quota-free—we can sell any amount, but the price is basically fixed by legislation. The world market floats, but the world market is volatile—one day it is high, next day it is down and next day there is none. So you don’t want to bank your future on a market that is not fixed and definitive. So we don’t know where the prices are gonna go, but clearly there is a relationship that the farmer gets sixty-five percent of the revenue and the company gets thirty-five percent and I don’t see that changing right now.”

Jose Sanchez

“On the airwaves this morning—not confirmed if it is true—but they were saying that Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association would have been able to receive some sort of financing from a Bolivian Bank. Do you think it is possible for the BSCFA to have shares in a sole factory?”

Godwin Hulse

“BSCFA needs to put proposal forward—a definitive proposal. I haven’t heard of any. They had fair-trade money; they’ve had all sorts of things. If they have a bank and they have money to come forward then come sit down and negotiate it as businessmen; there is nothing wrong with that. But I haven’t heard of that.”

Jose Sanchez

“But essentially at this point Senator Hulse, you are seeing the proposal being put forth by Banco Atlantida as a good one?”

Godwin Hulse

“Well yes. What else will we do? The company has worked on overdrafts and loans from ING bank. ING bank has withdrawn [and] no other bank wants to take up the slack; particular because they are not comfortable that there is enough cane. They are comfortable with the capacity of the factory, they are comfortable with the management, but there is not enough cane. And they figure if you don’t have cane, you won’t have sugar and if you don’t have sugar, you wa can’t pay back your loans. Banco Atlantida is coming in saying we are going to swap debt for equity—so those loans disappear—we’re gonna put money available for cane farmers to expand, we want to put some money in our own cane and we want to expand the factory. Come with a better offer in anybody has one.”

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13 Responses for “Senator Hulse says Banco Atlantida has a good deal for B.S.I.”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    People of Orange Walk and Corozal,Nortenos, do not sell your factory ; you must buy it and structure it to accept all investments including Banco Atlantida’s and even their request for expansion. but i think you should be 100% privately owned; and you must kick out this Godwin Hulse and the GOB and BARROW from your administration. Now there two types of Creditors: one who takes an equity position and the other who will lend his money and expect to be repaid without participating in the administration. No investor should have equity position but you the Norteno who have struggled for more than fifty years. You must reap the benefits but safeguard your investors. But don’t listen to Godwin Hulse, Barrow,Amandala, Gordon, and all the crap they spew. Tell Hulse get a job and stop taking taxpayers money under false pretense as a feckless senator.

  2. reggie says:

    Senator Hulse i know you mean good for the farmers.but why would you say it is a good deal to the people?you see the pm is looking to take control over all the utilities.as soon as the company buy pm will say they don’t have rites. i hope that the company would back out now before it is 2 late.advise the pm to go after the oil company and take the money from them and help the sugar company.MAKE A LOAN FROM THE OIL COMPANY.DARK DAYS IS A HEAD.WAKE UP MY PEOPLE.

  3. Rod says:

    Now we will be owned by Honduras business is so bad in Belize that every thing is going under with this pm and gov. Worse gov. In the history of Belize. Resign barrow resignnnnnnnnnnnnn.

  4. FACT CHECK says:

    Singapore does not export sugar, rice or beans, their land mass is so small that they import most of their food. Singapore is an example of a nation that rose from third world nation in 1965 when it got its independence to a global power by investing in its people and education.

  5. Serious says:

    Belize has narrow-minded leaders and this is the reason we do not succeed! Everytime someone comes with a bright idea, there has to be a negative group bringing it off.

    The Sugar Industry in Belize is not looking good and the main reason is because of poor leadership. The politicians just use the canefarmers for their purposes without realizing how much they affect the industry.

    Banco Atlantida is not a small enterprise! Banco Atlantida is the sister company of so many companies in Honduras of which they are very successful in the Honduran Sugar Industry. This is a very serious company. Look at how successful Atlantic Bank and Atlantic Insurance are. With good guidance and support they have created successful bankers and insurers in Belize.

    Banco Atlantida will bring to Belize good leadership, broaden the sugar market, technical aid, much needed financing and more jobs.

    The Belize Sugar Industry has potential. It just needs good guidance and not bigoted leaders.

  6. Working in the Sugar Industry says:

    For the past 5 years, every single initiative of the sugar cane industry has been undermined…compromised by one shortcoming and one only…CANE SUPPLY!!! The inability of the industry to effectively and continuosly grow in excess of 1 million tons of cane has caused every financial projection, sales/market opportunity, expansion effort to be undermined, unachievable…
    Back in 2000 when the current Sugar Industry Act was legislated, the concerns in the industry were identified, the factory required expansion (achieved through BELOCGEN) and the famer responsibility was to grow more cane!!! Eleven years later instead we have seen a decrease in cane supply, and yet they want to use FairTrade $$ to buy a factory that they themselves can’t reliably supply with the amount of raw material it needs to properly function. Come on people! The solution is obvious.

  7. Belizean says:

    So then Serious, and Working in the Sugar Industry, the solutions to our problems lie outside? Belizeans dont have the capacity to grow Belize to that level.? Our leaders are narrow minded and cant see past the lenght of their arms? Its more narrow minded to think Belize cant do it on its own and have to run to foreignors to bail us out. This is the reason why we fail cause Belizeans dont beleive in one another. Serious, you need to take a serious look at your own philosophies and change it, for the betterment of our people. Working in the Sugar Industry, if you believe a foreignor has more capacity than you and us Belizeans, then I’m hoping you’re not on a BSI managment position and singing for your supper. If this is so, you need to resign now and go to live in Honduras..! Nobody is disputing Banco Atlantida is a profitable and successful company, nor the fact that the Sugar industry is in turmoil, but when the transportation industry was monopolized and service levels dropped by one family, the model was changed and so can this.
    Fact: If BSI is in turmoil but an experienced banker wants to put money in, then there is a bigger picture to look at, there is an opportunity, BA knows this and have analyzed the Industry, why should we give it to a foreignor when it could stay in Belizean hands, when an opportunity exist.? It is BSI executives who have failed the factory, why didnt they capitalize on the opportunity Guatemala offered when they proposed to sell us some used but efficient turbines, cheap, and spent so many millions on a chinese plant that does not work..!? Is this a sound business practice, is this the legacy the CEO from BSI and its executive leaving for all the workers and cane farmers?
    If the farmers have dividends to collect as well they can reinvest in farming, they need leadership and guidance, why keep them ingnorant and poor at the opportunism of factroy exectives and politicians and foreignors.?. Educate the farmers and workers, give them equity, secure their childrens future, stop singing for your dam supper and look past the blinding curtains of UDP..!

  8. Belizean says:

    So who will represent the Employees Trust or Cane Farmers interest? the devil is in the details, whats the between the lines clauses and risks the employees and farmers are taking, and is it worth the while to sell out, rather than work it from within..? did so much money into the factory ever saved it..? It hasnt yet with Belcogen, so these are the same executives who fumbled up Belcogen, that are now negotiating to sell shares to a foreignor..? will this initiative be as successful as Belcogen is? as far as im concerned money hasnt solved the industry’s problem, maybe technically trained people will, with the replacement of the current leaders, at the political level and BSI executive level..

  9. Cane Farmer says:

    @ to serious. If Banco Atlantida is so successful in Honduras, why many Hondurans have migrated to Belize? Do you mean that you would like to see Belize like another Honduras? Check: Belize and Costa Rica are the only Central American countries that are good to live in up to now. Bz has not experienced any civil war as a result of the wealthy elite landowners amassing everything, having the best food and giving the bones to the poor. I agree with Ricky, I think Barrow, Hulse, Amandala do not not look beyond their nose; they are not offering a safe way out for cane farmers. They want immediate solutions that in the longer run will cost Bzeans.
    In my opinion the Sugar industry should be controlled by cane farmers. Cane farmers have not been having good leaders. They are suffering the same fate as the country’s GOB. Leaders come in just to enrich themselves. I think Bz should legislate practical laws to really prevent corruption in high place.

  10. Ricky Malthus says:

    Mr Belizean, you have something there. I aiways assert that Belizeans not “should” but must own the sources of wealth in Belize. Now this is not jingoism but sterling financial and operations management advice. This does not mean we cannot invite global investors, including Banco Atlantida, through debt financing as opposed to equity financing. if Investors are serious , they will know of what i speak. But everything can be structured for Belizean ownership, investors debt financing with safeguards in perpetuity, expert local operations management in place, world markets secured without the inefficient , unproductive intrusion of BELTRAIDE and government of Belize.

  11. Serious says:

    Belizean….what is your point? You said so much and at your last sentence, you’re summarizing what I said. :)

    I know that in Belize we have intelligent Belizeans. Who is the General Manager of Atlantic Bank and Atlantic Insurance? Who are the managers? Who are the staff? They are Belizeans!!!!

    The Belize Sugar Industry is not in good hands. They’ve had their opportunity and they couldn’t make the difference.

    Let me give you an example….football! I can tell you that Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are human beings just like you and me. But what make them different? Obvious…..they have had good guidance…..

    In Belize, instead of our leaders put more emphasis in investing in the core of our football which is building the football infrastructure, they are quarreling on other stupid matters.

    Anyhow, make your own analysis…. we have good players, we have football fields, just like in the sugar industry, we have cane, canefarmers, factory, etc… If we would get Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, don’t you think we can have the best football team in the world?

    Therefore, it’s simple…. we need serious leaders with broad knowledge and a wealth of experience.

  12. Belizean says:

    Serious, let me retract, i was just taken by the statement “Banco Atlantida will bring to Belize good leadership, broaden the sugar market, technical aid and financing..”. These are all true statements and i agree, even Phil Jackson will foster a better Team to beat Mexico next year..! However, that does not mean we need to bring in Jerry Buss to build our courts, bleachers and scoreboards, then charge at the gates..! We have the opportunity to keep the factory Belizean, send Belizeans abroad to qualify themselves with the technical skills, bring in foreignors as consultants. If you know how effective D.Gough is at BSI with Marketing, you’d know the sugar markets are already broad..! Good Leadership is here my friend, i won’t give up on singing this, cause tomorrow i want my son to own a piece of this paradise, and have an equal opportunity. Ever heard of Mr. Cruz and Nah, the engineers BSI spent hundreds of thousands on to educate, then they left to work at Bowen? Ask them why they left. It was definitely not the smell of bagasse, or the boilers bursting with steam…they had a passion for BSI. Someone needs to stand up against gov and BSi exec. to secure our future. And yes, union leaders need to stop siding with governments and take up allegiance with the unionized workers they represent, ever noticed there are no civil disobedience anymore? Even when there are crimes like opportunism..?

    Foreign Investments also create meaningful jobs, I’m not disputing that, however, there is a lack of opportunities for Belizeans due to access of resources. Where are the investments that should have been for the BCWU, 25% in Telemedia, NOT 10%, why hasnt the gov spoken to NTUCB to aquire shares in these utilities. Ever asked yourself why hasnt the gov fought to assist the unionized and common Belizeans to own our resources? Why hasn’t the goverment formed or replaced a Charitable Trust, and give share certificates to all charity organizations, like the Cancer Society, Dorothy Menzies Child Care Center, the Cancer Center in Dangriga, The Diabetes Association, etc. etc. Isn’t this what Michael Aschroft was forming? So why give 40% willingly to to a company all across the world non of us have heard of, Infocomm..! Who have never served us or show that they mean better for us. Most of the time these things tend to change and blow up in our faces. How many times have the minority shareholders lost dividends to the majority sharehoders? who decides not to pay it cause there is some underlying confusing reason not to declare it,and ohh due to managment (appointeed by the majority shareholder) decisions, ohh and then the small fish sell out to the big ones due breaching loans and stagnant pension funds. As far as im concerned the nationalization took back 70% from Fortis and over 90% from Ashcroft (although its for charity and employees the loans were not paid back yet so he still managed it). I dont uphold the manner in which the nationalization was done, cause the main reason Barrow could’ve come up with for BTL renationalization was to save 100 employees, FYI, THERE ARE SIX THOUSAND CANE FARMERS WHO NEED A BETTER LIFE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR KIDS MR. BARROW..!

    This is why I can’t support the notion, sell out what we have left. Let’s get it right this time, if not for us, for our kids..!

  13. ladymatura says:

    At a time when we have a “nationalization” fever of utilties why woudl we divest our sugar industry – which is part of our tradition, culture and foreign exchange earner? I do not have all the answers but this just baffles me – hasn’t social security money been used for all kinds of things? why not to help the canefarmers? WE cannot be sayign we want nationalization on one hand and then one of the oldest industry that is owned by Belizeans is gogint to be given to “foreign investor” Aren’t we fighting Ashcroft because he is a foreign investor? What deal this one will get? What hypocrites our leaders can be!

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