Oil Report

Italian firm pulls plug on Jamaica sugar deal

KINGSTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - An Italian-owned company has pulled out of an expected deal to buy three of Jamaica’s state-run sugar estates, the Caribbean country’s agriculture minister said.

Agriculture Minister Christopher Tufton, in a statement on Wednesday to the government news agency said the Italian company, identified as Eridania Suisse SA, had decided against buying the debt-ridden factories after studying their possible purchase for several months.

The factories have a combined capacity to produce 150 tonnes of sugar per year. The government had earlier pledged to provide $15 million in interim financing to keep them up and running while necessary field maintenance work was under way.

But Lufton said Eridania had told him a limited outlook for return on investment meant it was unable to come up with the $100 million needed to repair and refurbish the factories and bring them up to full production.

Tufton said that government would continue to run the factories until another potential buyer or buyers are identified. (Reporting by Horace Helps; Editing by Rebekah Kebede)