December 9, 2008

U.S. Sugar approves $1.34b sale

U.S. Sugar said its had authorized a $1.34 billion agreement to sell 181,000 acres to the state of Florida, a deal now waiting local approval.

''We signed the deal on the table,'' said U.S. Sugar Senior Vice President Robert Coker, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday. Now, it's in the hands of the (South Florida) water management district, he said.

The board of the South Florida Water Management District has until Dec. 16 to approve the deal. But state laws in Delaware, where U.S. Sugar is incorporated, mandate a two-month waiting period to allow the company to consider other offers.

Coker told the Herald that U.S. Sugar would shop around, for other offers.

The Lawrence Group, an agricultural company from Tennessee, has made an offer of $600 million for U.S. Sugar and argues that keeping the company going has more value than allowing the land sit idle as a environmental investment.

While approving the deal, U.S. Sugar also approved a retention and severance package for workers. The deal allows the company to lease the land for seven years, the newspaper said.