A merger between two competing firms may challenge Quark's former CEO Fred Ebrahimi's nut holdings.
At issue: a proposed merger between Hawaii's two leading macadamia nut processors, which has "raised antitrust concerns with the state's attorney general," reports the Star Bulletin.
Ebrahimi is a majority 12 per cent shareholder of Hawaii's Macadamia Orchards, a concern that grows and farms macadamia nuts in Hawaii. It owns or leases approximately 4,169 acres of nut orchards in three locations on the island.
But two local nut processors – Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp and MacFarms of Hawaii want to merge, in a move that means the combined firm would process 85 per cent of the state's macadamia nut crop.
President and chief operating officer of the area's largest mac nut grower Macadamia Orchards (the company Ebrahimi holds shares in), Dennis Simonis, said it was "pretty clear to him" that the merger will create a monopoly.
"Growers will have very few choices as to where to sell their nuts and Mauna Loa will have a market share that probably exceeds 80 per cent of the retail business in Hawaii," he told the Star Bulletin.
It's a threat to Ebrahimi's nuts: "The likely result is lower prices to growers and higher prices to consumers," Simonis said. "Mauna Loa will swear that's not going to happen, but they're in a position to do that."
But the nut processors say they don't want to do that. "We want growers to thrive and to prosper. And I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, we want nuts."
They claim they want to rebuild Hawaii's global macadamia nut market share which has shrunk form 90 to under 25 per cent since 1980.
To clinch the deal the nut processors are prepared to let go of some processing capacity.