Bevo Agro repays loan, buys back shares

The top managers of B.C. greenhouse supply firm Bevo Agro have bought back shares the company paid as interest while working its way through a fiscal slump.

The Langley-based company runs a 34-acre facility to raise and supply vegetable, flower, berry and other seedlings for greenhouse operators, field growers and nurseries, including a significant customer base in the U.S.

Last February, it retired a $5 million convertible debenture to Banyan Capital Partners, a Vancouver private equity firm, paying interest over the past five years in the form of Bevo Agro shares.

Bevo announced Tuesday it has repaid in full a $1 million loan from Banyan, which Bevo said will save it $120,000 per year in interest costs. The additional loan from Banyan was used as security for a $2 million operating loan facility for Bevo through BMO Bank of Montreal.

At the same time, a company owned by Bevo CEO Jack Benne, general manager Leo Benne and another family member has bought 1.6 million of the 2.2 million shares Banyan owned, while another Bevo manager has bought up the remaining 553,805 shares.

Bevo was able to pick up a new $24 million credit facility through Farm Credit Canada last February, to replace the company’s previous credit lines through BMO and also to repay the $5 million Banyan debenture.

After posting a net loss of over $640,000 for its year ending June 30, Bevo in late November posted a net loss of over $717,000 on $1.3 million in sales for its first quarter ending Sept. 30, up from a net loss of almost $844,000 on $1.64 million in sales in the year-earlier period.

The company said it was able to improve its gross margin on reduced costs, but sales were lower due to several orders being “reallocated to different time periods.”

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