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Mount Gay deal not dead

A buyout of Mount Gay Refinery is still possible, could happen within two weeks, and the severed workers would be re-employed.

That’s the word from chairman Bryan Wellington, who told Barbados TODAY that negotiations with another company for sale of the Ward family’s St Lucy concern is not dead, just experiencing a setback, and he expects a closed deal by the end of this month.

Wellington said that contrary to rumours, negotiations for sale of the refinery are continuing, and rather than giving workers “false hope”, they should have “reasonable hope”.

“What you can tell them is that we are attempting to bring this matter to a successful and mutually satisfactory resolution. Which is far better than what was reported saying that there are rumours that the offer has fallen through.”

The refinery is an entity distinct from the distillery, which carries the same brand name but different owners, and was erroneously mixed-up in our report last night.

The refinery had sent home workers since September, 2013, placing the 30 staff members on the breadline. They were then handed termination notices in December, but no severance package has been forthcoming, as anxiety builds among them because their NIS allowances are about to be exhausted.

Wellington, told Barbados TODAY by phone from Trinidad and Tobago, that all severed workers will be returned to their jobs once the buyout deal is completed.

“What I can say at the moment is that even though the offer was not carried through, we’re still negotiating and if the negotiation are successful, everything will turn out okay,” he said.

Not wanting to divulge more details because negotiations continue to be sensitive, the chairman refused to discuss the name of the company offering to purchase the refinery, though conceding it is public knowledge.

“All I can say at the moment is that we are still negotiating,” he said and added a comment about the workers future, “I would like to think they would probably be employed, seeing they have the experience already”.

But sale of the 346-year-old company hinges on a stumbling block issue between the more than 60 shareholding Ward family members and the prospective buyer. This issue apparently affected completion of the buyout deal, giving birth to rumours that it had fallen through last week.

“What has happened is there is a particular item in dispute, and if that item is resolved in our favour, we would be in a much better position,” Wellington said. “If it is not resolved in our favour, you could say that it is possible that the company could be insolvent. It depends on the resolutions of a certain item in dispute.”

Wellington, a Barbadian-born financial controller for Battoo Bros Ltd, Trinidad, is however optimistic that the obstacle will be overcome. “I would say they have a good chance of resolving it. But I am not thinking along those lines at the moment, I am thinking of getting successful negotiations completed . . . . I want to have it completed within two weeks. I think there is a pretty good percentage chance of it happening.”

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