Friday, June 18, 1999

C. Brewer plans
to sell food units

Mauna Loa Mac Nut company
may be sold as part of an effort
to raise cash for investors

By Russ Lynch


C. Brewer & Co. is looking to sell its Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp. subsidiary and other food businesses to raise cash for some investors.

J.W.A. "Doc" Buyers, chairman of C. Brewer, said the board of directors has approved a plan that could result in the sale of all or part of C. Brewer's food group. The group consists of the macadamia business as well as Hawaii's largest coffee wholesaler, Superior Coffee Inc., and other businesses producing juices, jams and jellies.

C. Brewer has retained an international investment banking firm, ING Barings LLC, to assist in the plan.

Buyers said some of the original investors in Buyco -- a company formed in 1985 to take the then-publicly held C. Brewer & Co. private -- now want to cash out and set themselves up for retirement.

"Mauna Loa is the best source to raise capital for the shareholders who want out" and additional cash to finance Brewer's expansion into "nutraceuticals," Hawaii-grown products that can be used to make medicine or food supplements, Buyers said today.

Another reason to sell Mauna Loa is that they have never reached the worldwide distribution that the company hoped for, Buyers said. While the macadamia nuts have reached more than $90 million in sales they have never made it to the $100 million-plus level that Buyers believes is possible and a new international owner could take them there, he said.

The actual growing of the nuts is done by ML Macadamia Orchards LP, a separate entity whose partnership units are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The Mauna Loa brand name, however, is owned by the C. Brewer subsidiary, which processes, packs and sells the nuts.

C. Brewer said it will keep its real estate and diversified agriculture businesses and push harder in its new directions in herbal crops for health uses. Buyers said the company also will keep its nonfood subsidiaries, including Brewer Environmental Industries and Hilo Coast Power Co.

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