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Eridania Suisse deal helps Jamaica sugar estates

Eridania Suisse deal helps Jamaica sugar estates

A deal with an Italian-owned company will keep several of Jamaica's debt-ridden sugar estates running until the government finds a buyer for them, the agriculture minister said Thursday.
Eridania Suisse SA has agreed to pay $15 million for 79,000 tons (72,000 metric tons) of raw sugar and a share of the profits from eventual sale of the estates, Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton said.
The money will be used to fertilize fields, install an irrigation system and renovate sugar factories at three estates, he said.
Jamaica expects to produce some 144,000 tons (131,000 metric tons)of sugar next year, which will cost the island some $21 million, according to the Sugar Company of Jamaica. The government might have to fund a shortfall of up to $6 million, but officials hope to have sold the estates by then, Tufton said.
Last month, Jamaica sold two other sugar estates to local companies for $2 million.
Geneva-based Eridania, a subsidiary of the Maccaferri Group of Bologna, will receive half the profit from sale of the three remaining estates, Tufton said.
The Sugar Company of Jamaica has lost $283 million since the government bought the factories in 1998. It announced in 2004 that it would sell the company after years of accumulating debt.
It has struggled to do so. A $39 million deal with Infinity Bio-Energy of Brazil fell through earlier this year amid the global economic crisis.