TODAY

– March 2, 2015

Ag firm Olam locates West Coast HQ in Fresno

Olam International, the Singapore-based supplier of ag products from cashews to cotton, is setting corporate roots in the Valley with the announcement that Fresno will be its West Coast headquarters.

About 80 people will work out of Olam's new office at 205 E. River Park Circle, Suite 310, overseeing operations including sales, accounting, financing and farming, said Warren Williams, Olam's general counsel in Fresno.

Olam already employs about 1,683 people at its farming and food processing operations in Fresno, Lemoore, Hanford and Firebaugh. The new 16,660 square-foot office will serve as a corporate hub for its Valley business which includes farming almonds, processing tomatoes and dehydrating vegetables.

"This brings everyone together in one spot, which is a big benefit," Williams said.

Olam is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 18 to celebrate the new office with scheduled guests including John Gibbons, president of Olam Americas based in New Jersey, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Fresno County Supervisor Susan Anderson.

Employees began moving into the new digs on April 25.

Olam is a truly global company that operates an integrated supply chain for 20 products in 64 countries. It began its expansion into the Valley in 2007 when it acquired cotton processor Anderson Clayton Crop. in Fresno after purchasing its parent company, Queensland Cotton Holdings of Australia.

Since then it has been buying up agriculture-based holdings left and right in the Valley, including the former De Franceso & Sons dehydrating plant in Firebaugh in 2008, the bankrupt SK Foods tomato processing plant in Lemoore in 2009 and another dehydration plant in Hanford through its 2010 purchase of Gilroy Foods & Flavors from ConAgra

Jose Antonio Ramirez, Firebaugh city manager, said having Olam's West Coast corporate headquarters in Fresno could open up more prospects for its Valley holdings, including an expansion of the products it processes as well as research and development.

"The value-added opportunities that are going to surface from having its headquarters in Fresno and a plant in Firebaugh are going to be endless," Ramirez said.

Olam Americas has about 25 operations in the U.S., including California locations in Williams (north of Sacramento), Gilroy and Modesto in addition to its Central Valley holdings.

In 2010, the publicly-traded Olam International reported sales revenue of about $8.53 billion, with about $292.2 million in net profit.

Attorney Carl Refuerzo, chair of the business department for Fresno law firm Baker Manock & Jensen, works with Olam on its various business dealings. He said Olam's representatives here and abroad are easy to work with, and that this is great news for Fresno and the Valley.

"This shows Olam's commitment to investment in agribusiness in the Central Valley," Refuerzo said.

--

Previous Olam International stories:

Olam purchases another Valley food processor

Hanford dehydrating plant to transfer ownership

Olam closes deal on Lemoore plant

$10M in bonds authorized for garlic facility

Lemoore’s SK Foods sold

What is Fresno's most important area for future growth?

Blogs

gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 03/02/2015, 12:29 pm by 
NEDRA PICKLER, ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press
(AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday the deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York show that law enforcement needs to change practices to...
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:25 pm by JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press
(AP) — A 26-year-old nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly disease has filed a lawsuit against the parent company of the Dallas hospital where she worked. Nina Pham filed the lawsuit Monday in Dallas County against Texas Health Resources. She contracted Ebola last fall while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. He died, while Pham and another nurse who contracted Ebola survived. Pham says in her lawsuit that the hospital was unprepared to treat Ebola cases and that she was an unwitting pawn in its public relations campaign to restore its reputation. She also says she worries about her long-term health. A spokesman says Texas Health Resources remains optimistic the matter can be resolved.
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:24 pm by JEFF AMY, Associated Press
(AP) — The Mississippi attorney general's attempt to investigate Google is on hold for at least four more months. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate on Monday granted Google's request for a preliminary injunction, preventing Attorney General Jim Hood from going through with a subpoena meant to examine whether Google is facilitating others' illegal activities on its sites. The injunction will also bar Hood from filing civil or criminal charges for now. The Internet giant, based in Mountain View, California, argued that Hood's investigation is blocked by a 1996 federal law that says Internet services are immune from lawsuits over what third parties say using the services. "At this point, Google has the better part of the argument on the reach of the Communications Decency Act of 1996," Wingate said in a ruling read from the bench. He promised a longer written ruling within 10 days. Wingate, in discussions with lawyers Monday in court, laid out a schedule for each side to seek documents and depose witnesses over 90 days, with arguments on a final ruling in the case to follow this summer. "The fact that the court has issued an injunction does not mean the court has reached a final decision in the case — just that the court wishes to maintain the status quo," Wingate said. The showdown between Google and Hood had been building for several years, but it escalated last fall when Hood sent a 79-page subpoena to Google. That document demanded the company produce information on subjects including whether Google is helping criminals by allowing its search engine to lead to pirated music, by having its autocomplete function suggest illegal activities and by sharing YouTube ad revenue with the makers of videos promoting illegal drug sales. Hood pledged to appeal the injunction to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, maintaining his position that any dispute over the subpoena belongs in Mississippi state court. "If attorneys general are unable to enforce state drug and consumer laws simply because a company uses the Internet, then this should be a wake-up call to all Americans that our children can simply type in 'buy drugs' and Google will guide them through its auto-complete feature," Hood said in a statement. Google, though, has argued Hood is infringing on its free speech rights. The Internet giant and its supporters say Hood is part of a covert campaign by movie studios to use legal action to achieve enhanced piracy protection that Congress has rejected. The company says a letter that Hood sent Google that was largely drafted by the Motion Picture Association of America, and notes that former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore was hired by the Digital Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit group funded by movie studios and other companies. "We're pleased with the court's ruling, which recognizes that the MPAA's long-running campaign to censor the web... — is contrary to federal law," Google General Counsel Kent Walker said in a statement. Hood's office has said it's only working with people and companies harmed by problems with Google services. "Ultimately what lies in the balance of a final court decision is whether it will be more difficult for state law enforcement officials to protect victims of online crime," said Adam Benson, deputy executive director of the Digital Citizens Alliance.
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:23 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Michael Jordan and two other NBA owners have reached new heights, making Forbes world list of billionaires. Forbes released its list on Monday and noted that Jordan's net worth is estimated at $1 billion, thanks to his well-timed investment in the Charlotte Hornets. Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, with a net worth of $1.6 billion, and the Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, worth $1.3 billion are also on the list. Jordan and Reinsdorf are newcomers to the list while Alexander returns for the first time since 2007. The net worth of NBA franchise values increased this past year after the sale of Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. The 52-year-old Jordan, a Hall of Fame player who won six NBA championships with the Bulls, reached billionaire status last June, according to the magazine. This is his first year on Forbes' annual list which typically is released in March. Jordan acquired the majority stake in the Hornets in 2010 for $175 million. Forbes last June listed Jordan's equity as owner of the Hornets is $416 million and his net worth outside of the team to be $600 million. Topping the list of sports-related billionaires was Stanley Kroenke, who owns the NFL's St. Louis Rams. His net worth of $6.3 billion, which ranks him as the 225th richest person in the world. He is one of 11 NFL owners on a list that include 20 billionaire sports figures. Other NFL owners to make the list include Robert Kraft (Patriots, $4.3 billion), Jerry Jones, (Cowboys, $4.2 billion), Stephen Bisciotti (Ravens, $2.7 billion), Arthur Blank (Falcons, $2.5 billion), Robert McNair (Texans, $2.4 billion), Tom Benson (Saints, $1.9 billion), James Irsay (Colts, $1.75 billion), Daniel Snyder (Redskins, $1.7 billion), Alex Spanos (Chargers, $1.25 billion) and Jeffrey Lurie (Eagles, $1.1 billion). ___See Forbes.com/billionaires for more complete list of sports-related billionaires
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:21 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Lumber Liquidators is refuting a "60 Minutes" report that raised health concerns about some of its laminate flooring products and pushed its stock price to its lowest level in more than two years. In a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lumber Liquidators said all of its laminate flooring meets the safety standards set by regulators throughout the U.S. The defense came the day after "60 Minutes" aired findings that some of Lumber Liquidators' flooring made in China had high levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen. The tests by three certified labs concluded the amounts of formaldehyde failed to meet California's emissions standards. Lumber Liquidators' stock plunged $11.13, or more than 21 percent, to $40.73 in early afternoon trading. Earlier in the session, the shares fell to $8.19, the lowest since July 2012. The Toano, Virginia, company asserted that the doubts being raised by its products are being fueled by "short sellers" — investors that make money by placing bets that specific stocks will drop in value. The "60 Minutes" report included interviews with Denny Larson, executive director of nonprofit group Global Community Monitor, and environmental attorney Richard Drury. Larson and Drury purchased boxes of laminate flooring from several retailers with stores in California, including Lumber Liquidators. They sent the products to the labs for testing. While Lumber Liquidators' flooring made in the U.S. met California's emissions standards, every sample manufactured in China failed. Lumber Liquidators said random testing of its six laminate flooring suppliers in China determined the products were "safe and compliant." "We stand by every single plank of wood and laminate we sell all around the country," the company said in its SEC filing. Lumber Liquidators has 354 stores in the U.S. and Canada, including 37 in California. The company earned $63 million on sales of $1.05 billion last year. The "60 Minutes" report is the second damaging blow to Lumber Liquidators in less than week.In a separate SEC filing last Wednesday, the company disclosed the U.S. Justice Department may seek criminal charges against it under the Lacey Act, which is a U.S. law that includes a ban on illegally sourced wood products. Lumber Liquidators' stock has plummeted by about 40 percent since last Wednesday's filing.
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:18 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Lost that charger again for your cellphone or tablet? Hate sorting heaps of wires to charge various devices? Swedish retailer IKEA might just have the answer — furniture with built-in charging spots, including in bedside tables, lamps and desks. The new collection will be available in Europe and North America from next month, followed by global distribution. Jeanette Skjelmose, manager of the lighting and wireless charging sector, said Monday Ikea aims to make life at home simpler because "we know that people hate cable mess." The new furniture uses the Qi wireless charging standard, found in some Windows and Android phones, including the new Samsung Galaxy S6 expected to be launched soon. Ikea said it will also provide special charging covers for iPhones and older Samsung Galaxies.
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:02 pm by Business Journal staff
The Big Fresno Fair is accepting submissions for the inaugural San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition this spring.  The competition, held in partnership with the California Olive Oil Council, is open to olive oil producers throughout the state and must use the most recent olive harvest. Entries will be accepted through May 8 and must fall in one of the two classes, extra virgin or flavored olive oil.  "At The Big Fresno Fair, we pride ourselves on showcasing the best in Fresno County and beyond, and by adding this competition we are able to now showcase the quality and variety of top-notch olive oil producers we have right here in Fresno County and throughout the state," said Stacy Rianda, deputy manager at The Big Fresno Fair. "This has been in the works for a while and we are expecting a great turnout of entries for our first year." Competition categories in the extra virgin olive oil class include historical blends, historical singles, Spanish blends, Spanish singles, Tuscan singles and Italian blends. Flavored olive oil categories include citrus, herbal and other flavors.  Producers may submit multiple entries under one category but may not submit a particular entry to more than one category. All entries must be for sale commercially at the time of submittal.  Judging will take place on May 21 and 22 by a panel of six olive oil sensory experts at the California Olive Oil Council headquarters in Berkeley. Gold and silver medals will be named for each category as well as a best of show winner, all of which will be announced on May 29.  Competition winners will be have the opportunity to have a booth in the Wells Fargo Agricultural Building on both weekends during the 2015 Big Fresno Fair.  Additional information about the competition requirements and deadlines can be found here. 
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:43 am by Business Journal staff
Yolanda Castro, 45, was arrested during her shift last week at the Internal Revenue Service in Fresno following an indictment by a grand jury on 10 counts of tax fraud and making false statements to a government agency. Castro, a 20-year IRS employee, prepared and filed false tax returns for herself, family members and others between 2007 and 2013, according to the indictment. The indictment also states that Castro claimed a credit for education expenses in 2008 she did not incur, providing phony textbook receipts to support the claim. Castro also claimed child care expenses that were never incurred, according to the indictment. If convicted, each of Castro's 10 charges carry maximum penalties of three to five years in prison and fines of $10,000 to $250,000.
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:41 am by Associated Press
(AP) — The Navy is turning over hundreds of human remains to a California Indian tribe after determining that the band has a historical connection to one of the Channel Islands. A report this week in the Federal Register said Navy officials have recognized that the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians has a connection to the history of the island. The designation means that the remains of 469 people and 436 burial objects that were removed from San Nicolas Island over the last century will be repatriated to the tribe in Temecula, a suburb 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles, according to the report. The Ventura County Star reports the decision came after more than two years of talks between Navy officials and tribal officials over the Navy-owned island, which is 65 miles off the coast. "What (this) decision means is that nearly 500 human remains, and hundreds of burial and sacred items will finally be afforded the respect and dignity they have long deserved under federal law," said Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro, in a statement released Friday. The artifacts have been moving around museums throughout the state.
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:36 am by ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press
(AP) — Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Mexicans who were expelled from the country by immigration officials in Southern California will be allowed to return for a chance to make their case to stay in the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union said. A settlement approved by a federal judge in Los Angeles applies to Mexicans in Southern California who waived rights to a hearing when they were expelled — a procedure known as voluntary return. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Friday that it estimates that "a very small fraction" of roughly 30,000 people who returned voluntarily from Southern California during the period covered by the settlement will be eligible for another chance. ACLU affiliates in Los Angeles and San Diego sued the Homeland Security's secretary and other immigration officials in 2013, saying authorities used deceptive tactics. A settlement was reached in August, but the order by U.S. District Judge John Kronstadt defines who is eligible to make their case to immigration judges under the class-action lawsuit. The agreement applies to Mexicans who left voluntarily from June 2009 to August 2014 and have reasonable claims to remain in the country. They had to have been processed by officials in the Border Patrol's San Diego sector or by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Los Angeles or San Diego field offices. The Border Patrol long offered voluntary returns to nearly all people it arrested. But in recent years, the agency has embraced procedures that carry stiffer administrative and criminal penalties, including formal deportation orders and criminal prosecution. Some Mexicans were not fully warned of the consequences of voluntary returns, which included a 10-year ban on applying to re-enter the country for one person who married a U.S. citizen and had a U.S. citizen child, said Gabriela Rivera, an attorney for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. In some cases, people were given forms with a box already checked that they agreed to leave the country voluntarily, she said. The August settlement requires the government to provide detailed information about the consequences of a voluntary return, establishes a hotline for questions, gives people an opportunity to contact an attorney or someone else they choose, and prohibits authorities from pressuring anyone to accept the offer, Rivera said. Homeland Security said Friday that its component agencies — ICE and Customs and Border Protection — do not tolerate deception or coercion. ICE is revising its literature for notifying people who are about to be expelled from the country. "In an effort to address the issues raised in this litigation, both agencies have agreed to supplement their existing procedures to ensure that foreign nationals fully comprehend the potential consequences of returning voluntarily to Mexico," the department said. Initially, only the nine plaintiffs were given a chance to return to the country. Rivera said they are living with their families in the U.S. while awaiting hearings before immigration judges. The Department of Homeland Security's press office did not immediately respond to a phone or email message left after business hours. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel had no immediate comment. Advocates plan to promote news of the settlement extensively in Southern California and Mexico. Only the ACLU and organizations it approves will be allowed to submit applications to the federal government, Rivera said.

Latest State News

Written on 03/02/2015, 12:24 pm by JEFF AMY, Associated Press
(AP) — The Mississippi attorney...
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:41 am by Associated Press
(AP) — The Navy is turning over...
Written on 03/02/2015, 10:36 am by ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press
(AP) — Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of...
Written on 03/02/2015, 8:41 am by MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — For its next technological...

Latest National News

Written on 03/02/2015, 12:29 pm by 
NEDRA PICKLER, ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press
(AP) — President Barack Obama said...
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:25 pm by JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press
(AP) — A 26-year-old nurse who...
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:23 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Michael Jordan and two other NBA...
Written on 03/02/2015, 12:21 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Lumber Liquidators is refuting a...