Is Crist's U.S. Sugar buyout a 'bailout'?
The other major heavyweight in the sugar industry, Florida Crystals, jumped into the middle of the debate over Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed buyout of U.S. Sugar, accusing the state of using Everglades restoration as cover for what's really a bailout of its competitor.
Florida Crystals, which is headed by Alfy and Pepe Fanjul, filed a legal challenge to the South Florida Water Management District's bond validation suit, thus blocking at least temporarily the state's plan to borrow $1.34-billion to buy 181,000 acres of U.S. Sugar's land. However, the challenge is unlikely to stop the water district board's scheduled vote on the buyout Tuesday.
Robert Coker of U.S. Sugar said the buyout is not a bailout, and that it was "a relief to finally have Florida Crystals and the Fanjuls come out in the open rather than lurking around in the background" opposing the purchase. Gaston Castens of Florida Crystals said the company doesn't object to Crist's buyout plan per se, just the terms in the proposed contract. Here's the legal challenge.
Craig Pittman, Times staff writer