LABELLE, FL. -- Two Massachusetts real estate firms have bid over $50 a
share to buy out LaBelle's large agribusiness company, Alico. This would
represent about a 100% gain in stock value from only a year ago. Alico's
largest shareholder now is Atlantic Blue, controlled by three of the
sisters of Ben Hill Griffin III, the late chairman and CEO of the company.
The sisters gained control of the company from their brother after a legal
battle several years ago. Alico owns citrus and ranch land throughout the
area, and sells to developers as the Southwest Florida area expands into
housing development and commercial shopping areas. Alico has been a large
force in developing rural areas into commercial development. In Hendry
county, they have been keen on sponsoring laws to favor tax breaks for
business and development of educational facilities and the development of
the county airports.