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Exodus from Lascelles’ board

McConnell, Bell and Abrahams stepping down

BY AL EDWARDS Caribbean Business Report Editor aledwards@jamaicaobserver.com

 

 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

 

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THREE Jamaican Board members of Trinidadian-acquired conglomerate Lascelles De Mercado, namely William McConnell, Anthony Bell and Jason Abrahams are to step down, the Jamaica Observer understands.

Managing Director of Lascelles, McConnell, is credited with turning the rum division into a world-class outfit and one of the best rum producers in the region.

William McConnell

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He joined Lascelles subsidiary J Wray & Nephew as Financial Accountant in 1973 and has served as Managing Director of the Wray & Nephew Group of Companies since 1977.

Bell served as Group Finance Director having been with the group for well over two decades. He played a vital role in turning the flagship division – Rum, Wines and Liquors – into a powerhouse and oversaw Canada overtaking Mexico as Appleton’s biggest overseas market.

The prospect of both McConnell and Bell forming a consortium and acquiring the rum division and spinning it off from the Group has been mooted for sometime, especially given the heavily indebted status of parent company CL Financial.

Abrahams meanwhile, is a Jamaican investment banker based in Florida who was instrumental in structuring and securing the deal that saw CL Financial subsidiary Angostura acquire Lascelles in 2008.

In that year Lawrence Duprey’s CL Financial raised external debt financing in the amount of US$450 million to finance the Lascelles acquisition which amounted to US$676 million.

For its money, CL Financial got 86.87 per cent of Lascelles’ common stock.

With Duprey’s group of companies falling asunder in 2009, CL Financial Group’s financial director Michael Carballo intimated at Lascelles AGM that year, that CL Financial may have to turn to Lascelles to finance the US$340 million loan balance it had from the purchase of the Jamaican conglomerate.

One of the major problems CL Financial had was the intertwining of assets and its insatiable thirst for cash which served to bedevil the fortunes of Lascelles’ group of companies. The financial uncertainty and inability to  provide a coherent direction for the Jamaican group may well be a contributory factor in seeing McConnell, Bell and Abrahams heading for the door.

In 2010, Lascelles’ third-quarter sales for the period ending June 30 slumped by $700 million to come in at $6 billion. Net profit dramatically fell to $363 million from $1.39 billion for the same period in 2009.

For the first quarter ended December 31, 2010, Lascelles reported unaudited consolidated earnings results which saw  an operating profit of $931.1 million and a net profit of $821.3 million on operating revenues of $7.1 billion.

Lascelles is expected to report its second quarter 2011 results on May 11.

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