New York investors purchase large Florida agribusiness
A group of private investors in New York has gone in on a majority interest in Fort Myers-based agribusiness Alico Inc., one of the largest private landowners in Florida.
The all-cash $138 million deal involves 50.5% of Alico’s outstanding voting stock, purchased by 734 Agriculture, a private investment company owned by Remy Trafelet and George Brokaw, in partnership with Arlon Group, a global food and agriculture investment firm.
The majority stake will be valued at $37 per share and is due to close in the next 30 to 45 days.
Family-owned holding company Atlantic Blue Group previously owned the voting stock, but was sold due to tax reasons. Atlantic Blue Group is part of late citrus baron Ben Hill Griffin Jr.’s estate. His heirs include former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.
Florida citrus grower Clay Wilson will be the new CEO, though the company doesn’t foresee any substantial changes in focus or operations.
Alico owns 130,000 acres in central and south Florida, 11,000 acres of which are under production for citrus. Alico also specializes in sugar cane and cattle ranching.
Fitch report says housing recovery to continue
Fitch Ratings’ latest Chalk Line report for Fall 2013 emphasized the continued strength of the housing recovery, despite recent setbacks such as the government shutdown and increased mortgage rates.
"Still low absolute mortgage rates and home prices well below former highs in most markets suggest that affordability is still attractive," said Fitch managing director Robert Curran. "Recent government struggles, negative equity and challenging mortgage qualification standards appear to be little more than short-term headwinds restraining the housing recovery."
The analysis points to stable ratings for most issuers within the homebuilding sector during the short-term outlook.
Additionally, Fitch predicts a 17% increase in single-family housing starts for 2013, with new home sales up a projected 20% and an 8.5% growth in existing home sales. Total housing starts are estimated to grow 16.5% to 1.1 million in 2014.
The report also touches on quarterly growth trends and margin statistics for homebuilders, liquidity analyses, recovery ratings for six single B or lower-rated homebuilding credits, updated population projections from the Census Bureau, foreclosure statistics, general commentary on the industry, and more.