Trinidad bank takes over Mazaruni Granite
Owed US$13M

Stabroek News
May 6, 2003

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The Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT) Merchant Bank on Friday appointed Maurice Solomon as Receiver/Manager for the heavily indebted Mazaruni Granite Products Limited (MGPL).

Solomon told Stabroek News yesterday that his intention was to continue the MGPL operations and to assess its future viability. As a consequence he said that none of the workers had been sent home. A release issued by Solomon urged all the workers "to continue working with diligence and initiative so that the company can continue in the future as a profitable enterprise and contribute to Guyana's economy."

Solomon's appointment came after MGPL experienced financial difficulties and defaulted on its loan obligations in 2001. Stabroek News understands that the amount owed is in excess of US$13M.

The foreclosure comes in wake of efforts by MGPL which had been working with RBTT to restructure the company and it had been expected to sign an agreement to this effect shortly.

In May last year RBTT's Director of Corporate Credit Keith King visited Guyana to assess the potential interest from the quarry industry in the acquisition of the assets of MGPL. King met officials of Toolsie Persaud Limited and BK International among other quarry owners as part of its efforts to recover its loan by securing a new business interest in MGPL that would ensure that its (MGPL) obligations were met in a timely manner. Neither BK nor Toolsie Persaud expressed an interest in MGPL's operations.

King also met with a number of government officials to alert them to RBTT's intention following a request from the government earlier in the year to defer its planned foreclosure pending the implementation of a number of infrastructure projects.

These projects, on which MGPL's investment was premised, have been running several years behind schedule and as yet there are no guarantees when the projects would kick off because of the time it takes to get projects out to tender, the awarding stage and mobilisation in the short term.

MGPL started operations under the stewardship of Managing Director Peter Cummings at the Teperu quarry in the Mazaruni River in 1997 taking over from Guyana Granite Products Ltd. Observers have noted that the quarry with a capacity of 3M tonnes per year was simply too large for Guyana's needs and shipping stone to Caribbean islands was uneconomical. MGPL had mobilised investment from a number of persons locally and Development Finance Limited of Trinidad also had a small equity stake in it and had ex-tended US$3M in credit to it.

MGPL had also been brought before the court by Taipan Shipping Ltd for non-payment of a disputed amount of US$ 566,000. MGPL, in a consensual judgment had promised to pay US$244,100 of the amount over 12 months.

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