Group Makes A Run At U.S. Sugar

“This deal is a ‘win-win’ for everyone including the environment, the South Florida Water Management District, shareholders, employees, surrounding communities, and citizens of Florida,” said Gaylon Lawrence, Jr. “Our offer is far superior to the one management of U.S. Sugar is trying to sell to the state — on several fronts. U.S. Sugar shareholders will receive $300 cash for their shares at closing, which if invested in investment grade corporate bonds, would yield more than $500 by the end of 2016 — without uncertainty.”

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The Lawrence acquisition proposal offers shareholders $300 per share, guaranteed. It also assures the employees and surrounding communities that U.S. Sugar will continue operating as a going concern for years to come. This will most certainly preserve jobs and help stabilize home values.

Previously, the Lawrences made bids of $293 per share to buy U.S. Sugar, once in 2005 and again in 2007, but those offers were both rejected by the board of directors without informing the shareholders. This time, the Lawrences are appealing to the shareholders directly with hopes they will recognize the generous $300 per share purchase price while also providing that the company will operate well beyond 2016.

In environmental terms, the Lawrence and state proposals both help accomplish Governor Crist’s goal of restoring the north-south hydrology between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, with two major differences.

First, U.S. Sugar’s 181,000-acre land purchase proposal has the state acquiring tens of thousands of acres over and above what the South Florida Water Management requires to meet its goals. The Lawrence proposal will cost taxpayers a fraction of the $1.34 billion price tag. Secondly, it will preserve the jobs of the employees and contribute to the economic vitality of the local communities located south of Lake Okeechobee.

“We are committed to selling the land that the South Florida Water Management District needs to build this worthy project,” said Lawrence, Jr. “It is still a complex work-in-progress, one we are fully committed to accomplishing as stewards of the land.”

The deal is expected to close in 2009.

Source: Lawrence Group Press Release

For the Wall Street Journal’s take on the deal, click here.