Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Call goes out to creditors as Jamaica Beverages winds up

Published:Friday | January 22, 2021 | 12:16 AM

Wilfred Baghaloo, trustee for Jamaica Beverages Limited.
Wilfred Baghaloo, trustee for Jamaica Beverages Limited.

Wilfred Baghaloo, a trustee for bankrupt Jamaica Beverages Limited, JBL, wants to settle all outstanding debt by mid-February and has put out the call for creditors to prove their claims against the estate.

The settlements will be funded from the sale of JBL assets to juice maker Trade Winds Citrus Limited in a deal struck last October, inclusive of the court judgment that tipped the already faltering Jamaica Beverages into bankruptcy. The value of the sale to Trade Winds has not been disclosed.

The court award, in the amount of US$4.5 million, was from a lawsuit won by an employee, Janet Edwards, who was shot and paralysed in all four limbs during an attempted robbery of a property owned by JBL in 2000. Edwards and some creditors have already received a first payment on monies owed to them, while final payments to her and other creditors with verifiable claims will be made over the next three weeks, prioritised according to the ranking of their debt.

Following the court-awarded judgment in 2017, the joint trustees of the insolvent company – Baghaloo of PricewaterhouseCoopers Jamaica and Caydion Campbell of Phoenix Restructuring, Advisory and Insolvency Services – tried to negotiate a settlement with the attorneys of the former employee, unsuccessfully. They eventually put up the JBL assets for sale in November 2019 to settle the judgment.

The deal with Trade Winds Citrus closed on January 12, 2021. Now, the trustees are working to settle the proven debts of JBL, after which they will wind up the company and have the name struck from the register of the Companies Office of Jamaica.

“We have already paid the workers their redundancy and will now seek to settle all of the company’s trade creditors on a timely basis. Thereafter, we will settle with pre-bankruptcy creditors, including shareholders’ loans and other debt,” Baghaloo said.

“The remaining shell of the company will have significant tax losses, but the opportunity to monetise same is very limited and extremely narrow,” he said.

The winding up of the company is expected to be finalised by May.

Jamaica Beverages, which was owned by Trinidadian company SM Jaleel, operated from a 14-acre complex in Bog Walk, St Catherine, producing Juciful juices, Fruta drinks and milk products under the Dairy Farmers brand. Its assets also included two chill rooms with over 74,000 cubic feet of capacity, and three cold rooms with over 98,000 cubic feet of capacity, and property at Bog Walk and Portmore.

Trade Winds, run by Peter McConnell, acquired all JBL assets at Bog Walk, but not the company’s receivables. The acquisition gave juice maker Trade Winds a conduit into the dairy market, which Jamaica Beverages served under the Dairy Farmers brand. Trade Winds also continues to produce Juciful juices under an exclusive licence previously held by the bankrupt company.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com