Plateau - The Plateau State government has paid N700 million to debtors to save the comatose Jos International Breweries, JIB, from total liquidation, an official has confirmed.
John Mankilik, the Chairman of the board saddled with reviving JIB, said the settlement of the debt owed to Diamond Bank, the outfit’s creditor, was a “major step forward toward the revival of the company.”
“When the board was constituted in November 2010, we found that the company was not only totally down but it was also heavily indebted; and the creditors wanted the entire firm dispensed with as scrap to reduce the debt,” Mr. Mankilik was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria.
“But we struggled and settled that debt; we are already looking toward getting investors to re-start business again,’’ he said.
Mr. Mankilik said the company’s initial debt claim of N1.3 billion was lowered to N970 million after evaluation.
“Of the confirmed figure, we found that most of it was accumulated interests on the principals. We then tried to negotiate with the creditors, especially since the company was no more in operation, and came up with the final figure of N700 million, which we have paid up,’’ he said.
Mr. Mankilik described JIB as a “very viable company’’, recalling that it was paying the salaries of the entire workforce of Plateau some years ago.
“Also, aside its massive revenue, the company employed 7,000 persons directly, and this is in addition to indirect employees and other multiplier effects,’’ he said.
Since going under, the new board has faced multiple court cases instituted by workers and contractors.
Besides clearing of staff entitlements, the board has also battled to defray N10 million legal fees submitted by the brewery’s lawyers, Mr. Mankilik said.
“We have compiled their claims and have studied them. We are reaching out to the state government and we shall soon get back to the lawyers, the workers and other creditors,’’ he said.
Mr. Mankilik said that the board’s attempt at securing a N2 billion credit from the Bank of Industry, BOI, was frustrated by Diamond Bank.
“At that time, Diamond Bank was not comfortable with JIB’s debt profile, but now that we have settled our debts, we shall return to the BOI and apply afresh for that facility,’’ he added.