Tri-Marine asks USDA for multi-million loan guarantee
U.S.-based Tri Marine Group is seeking a multi million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development for its tuna cannery facility in American Samoa.
The USDA Rural Development briefing papers submitted to the February 2012 meeting of the federal group, Interagency Group on Insular Areas, provides a summary of programs as well as funding allocations for the Rural Development to the insular areas.
For American Samoa, under the category of Rural Business Programs for business and industry (B&I) guaranteed loans, the report says that Rural Development is in discussion with Tri-Marine for a $30 million B&I guaranteed loan for a tuna cannery processing facility.
Tri Marine has taken over government land previously occupied by COS Samoa Packing for the construction of the Samoa Tuna Processors (STP) Inc, for tuna cannery operations as well as fresh fish export.
Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Tri-Marine vice president of production, Dan Sullivan explained that the company has a plan to refurbish the tuna processing facility in Atu'u to include a large — 5,000 ton — cold store facility, a fresh and frozen fish processing facility and a tuna cannery.
“This project is a significant undertaking and will naturally involve financing. As part of the financing process we are seeking loan guarantees for as much as $30 million,” Sullivan said last Friday afternoon. “These funds will be used for the projects described.”
“The application for loan guarantees has been made; I cannot predict with any certainty when a decision will be made,” he said. “Our planning and preparation continue and we expect to begin construction soon.”
“In the meantime, we are conducting operations” at the Samoa Tuna Processors site and this “includes providing unloading and cold storage services to the American Samoa based fleet, as well as purchasing, processing and exporting high quality fresh fish to Japan and the US for the premium quality markets,” said Sullivan.
The most recent project in the territory that sought and received approval for a loan guarantee from the Rural Development office was a $16.7 million loan for the American Samoa Hawai’i Cable (ASH-Cable) and American Samoa Cable, LLC (ASC) for the purchase of fiber optic cable, the report says, adding that the loan guarantee approval was made in 2010.
ASH-Cable, the company that owns, manages and operates the undersea fiber optic cable, is minority owned by the American Samoa Government with majority shares held by Florida-based eLandia, whose local subsidiaries includes BlueSky Communications and BlueSky Moana TV.
As previously reported by Samoa News, the loan guarantee is made with the ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank.
Another benefactor of this program is the three-story Tradewinds Hotel, owned by the Haleck Family in Ottoville.
The report summary also cited other Rural Development programs benefiting American Samoa recently. For example, under the Rural Housing Programs, the federal agency — since 2009 — has assisted over 186 homeowners with over $1.3 million in Home Improvement and Repair Loans and Grant Programs.
According to the report, the territory’s “communal” land tenure system has prevented Rural Development from utilizing its flagship Direct and Guaranteed Loan Program (502 Loan Program).
Rural Development has been working with the Development Bank of American Samoa to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to provide “security” for homeownership loans, it says.
Another Rural Development program is “Community Programs” and last year a $110,000 Community Facilities Grant was awarded to the LBJ Medical Center “for the purchase of much needed microbiology equipment,” the report notes.
Currently, the federal agency is working on a $1.5 million Community Facilities loan application received from a faith-based school project. (The name of the school was not identified in the report).
Under the Rural Utility Services program, the federal agency says that in 2010 the American Samoa Telecommunication Authority (ASTCA) received an $81 million grant and $10 million loan under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for its Broadband Linking the American Samoa Territory (BLAST) project.
According to ASTCA, this project will transform the islands’ legacy copper network into an advanced fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure.
The Rural Utility Services also provided the American Samoa Power Authority — in 2009 — with two grants totaling $3.14 million for High Energy Cost Grants. Such grants are provided for rural communities with home energy costs that are over 275 percent of the national average, the report says.