J. Wray & Nephew Limited (JWN) of Kingston Jamaica is the owner of the Appleton Rum brand. JWN is owned by Lascelles de Mercado & Company (or Group) which was purchased in 2008 by CL Financial (Lawrence Duprey)of Trinidad & Tobago. That brought JWN and Appleton into the same company as Angustora Bitters. News details of February 6 2009 news release: Jamaica's leading rum makers, Appleton and J Wray & Nephew, subsidiaries of Lascelles de Mercado, are not for sale, declared the executive director of CL Financial, Michael Carballo. Last week, both the Government and central bank of Trinidad & Tobago moved quickly, taking over the assets and liabilities of many of the companies of Lawrence Duprey's CL Financial as the group ran into liquidity troubles. Only last year Angostura, a subsidiary of CL Financial, acquired the Jamaican conglomerate Lascelles de Mercado in a deal valued at around US$700 million. Speaking with Caribbean Business Report on Tuesday from Trinidad & Tobago's capital, Port of Spain, Carballo said: "At Lascelles it is business as usual and despite all the rumours it will not be sold to any foreign entity. We want to reassure stakeholders and employees that Appleton is important to us and is a very important piece of our portfolio. We fully intend on growing that business." Last year, Carballo said that Angostura wanted to export one million cases of Appleton rum within the next three years and that it was prepared to aggressively market the product in both the Caribbean and international territories. CL Financial already controls a sizeable spirits portfolio and Duprey said his vision is to see Appleton and J Wray & Nephew as part of a plan to create a spirits company akin to a Caribbean Diageo. Lawrence Duprey As word of Duprey's predicament spread throughout world markets, reliable sources speaking with Caribbean Business Report said that Diageo was contemplating a bid for Appleton. "I want to make it absolutely clear that Appleton is still a prized asset in the CL Financial portfolio and it is an investment that we take extremely seriously," said Carballo. "We see value in it and I will be in Jamaica very soon to answer all questions and address any concerns people may have." In an effort to allay CL Financial customers' fears, the Trinidadian Government in conjunction with the central bank took over many of the assets and liabilities of the companies within the group, creating a bailout plan. The companies now under the Government's control are CLICO Investment Bank (CIB), Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB), British American Insurance Company and CLICO Insurance. CL Financial is a diverse conglomerate with interest in construction, real estate development, financial services, alcoholic beverages and energy-based businesses including ammonia and methanol. It was widely believed that CL Financial was over-leveraged. Asked why CL Financial ran into problems, Carballo said, "Two of the reasons that led to a liquidity crunch were, firstly, plummeting methanol and ammonia prices on the world market and secondly, over-exposure to commercial real estate. CL Financial is asset-rich (around TT$100 billion) but cash poor with liquidity problems. We had to go to both the Government and the Central Bank to get a bailout very much like other companies have had to do, both in the US and in Europe." Carballo further explained that "in order to prevent a contagion that was likely to destabilize the entire Trinidadian financial sector, the Government decided to assist CL Financial". The prime minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Patrick Manning, places CL Financial's debts at around TT$8 billion with many others placing that figure considerably higher. The Government has now taken control of two life insurance companies, namely, British American and CLICO Trinidad Limited. Both CIB and CMMB will now be taken over by First Citizens Bank, a state-owned operation. CL Financial has agreed to dispose of its 55 per cent holding in Republic Bank, one of the Caribbean's largest indigenous banking entities. Now combined, Citizens and Republic will become the largest indigenous banking operation in the Caribbean. "CL will dispose of its 56 per cent holding in its Trinidad-based methanol operations which will go to the Government," said Carballo. "The rest of the group remains intact. CL Financial can ride this out as it now reconsolidates its many business interests."