New bankruptcy case hits Chilean fruit sector

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New bankruptcy case hits Chilean fruit sector

Chilean company Scramble has filed for bankruptcy, along with its comerically-linked fruit businesses Ben David, Agro Frio and MR Fruit.

Chilean holding company Asesorías e Inversiones Scramble has filed for bankruptcy with outstanding payments to companies including multinational Chiquita, Banco Santander and Banco de Chile.

Scramble was born out of a merger between exporters Ben David and Agro Frío, which was owned by the Pandol Brothers until a change of ownership three years ago. The business began its activities in 2008 and later joined with another company MR Fruit.

At the start of August the company filed for bankruptcy with the 18th Civil Court of Santiago "for finding itself in an insurmountable situation of default", citing Chiquita, Banco de Chile and Banco Santander as the main creditors.

It is a situation that not only will affect Scramble's associated export businesses, but also producers Amigos del Norte, Agrícola Oro Verde and Agrícola Dos.

Ben David, MR Fruit, Oro Verde and Agrícola Dos are listed as guarantors and co-debtors for Scramble, which means they too face responsibility if the company can't pay its debts.

A complaint filed to the 5th Civil Court of Santiago by Chiquita claims Ben David, Agrícola Oro Verde and MR Fruit signed promissory notes on May 26, 2010, which were supposed to be paid on Jun. 1, 2011. The multinational requested a payment of US$3.3 million plus agreed interest.

Agro Frío also decided to file for its own bankruptcy, with debts owed to Chiquita, print packaging company Envases Impresos and Banco Santander. The company's production business Amigos del Norte has also filed for bankruptcy to the 26th Civil Court of Santiago for debts owed to Chiquita, Rabobank and Agro Frío.

On Aug. 2, Chiquita made a complaint against Agrícola Dos for US$1.5 million in outstanding payments, with the U.S. company claiming it needed to comply with a mortgage agreement involving property and water rights.

Photo: Daily Record

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