24 Sep 2009

American Samoa's Togiola explains cannery bid

4:13 pm on 24 September 2009

The American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono has told lawmakers he decided the territory should buy the assets of Samoa Packing after learning negotiations with other parties interested in the cannery had failed.

The governor spoke to the fono today for more than an hour, and made a power point presentation about his ideas for the purchase.

The governor says they've offered four and a half million US dollars for the plant, plus permits and licences, and half a million for staff to maintain it, pending the takeover by a company to operate it for the Government.

The cannery would process and can albacore and wahoo and the intention is to have a co-packing contract with Star Kist, Tri Marine or other interested canneries.

The proposed cannery will not have a label and the products could be sold to any buyer.

Also proposed is loin processing and the sale of fresh frozen fish.

The cannery would employ up to 700 people.

Togiola says two companies are interested in managing the operation and talks will be held with them in Honolulu this weekend.

According to the plan he presented today, within 60 days, the government would complete the purchase of Samoa Packing's assets, select a board, pick a management team, select a company to operate the cannery and open for business.

Though the governor had said earlier he intended to seek an additional 20 million US dollars to operate the cannery, today he told the fono this money would be raised through the co-packing contracts, stimulus funding, and possible subsidies through the just introduced ASPIRE legislation.