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BUSINESS

Felix sold to group led by Arrocha

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The retailer chain Felix B. Maduro has been sold to FBM Retail Corp., whose principal shareholder is Grupo Arrocha of Panama, in partnership with Grupo Diunsa, S.A. and A.F. International Corp.

The amount of the transaction was not reported.

Grupo Arrocha operates the Arrocha pharmacy network, founded more than 90 years ago and currently consisting of 33 branches and more than 2,500 workers.

A press release reports that Diunsa is one of the largest department store chains in Honduras, with over 40 years of experience, while A.F. International Corp. has investments in supermarkets and real estate in the region.

The sale was consummated Friday when the U.S. Department of the Treasury, through its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) excluded the companies operating Felix B. Maduro from the so-called Clinton list, which prohibited them from engaging in transactions with U.S. entities.

The companies were included on the list on May 5 when the OFAC took action against owner Abdul Waked and his family.

To keep the stores open, Waked agreed to transfer all the assets of Felix B. Maduro to a trust controlled by creditor banks, which prompted the OFAC to grant a license to the chain to operate normally until Dec. 14.

OFAC removed the stores from the list once it certified that the new owners have no links with Waked.

The bids were reviewed by three directors appointed by creditor banks, including Carlos Rabat, the current manager of stores who will remain in his post during the transitional period. The National Bank of Panama (BNP), through its Manager Rolando De León, acted as trustee.

The proceeds of the sale will be distributed according to the following order of priority: employment benefits, creditor banks with real guarantees and finally suppliers. Any money that remains will be placed in a trust that will be returned to Waked if he is cleared by US authorities.

Waked acquired Felix B. Maduro in 2015. The company has operated in Panama for nearly 140 years.

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