Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Antigua government to acquire full control of energy company

Published:Tuesday | January 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Antigua & Barbuda government says it has signed an agreement to purchase the remaining shares in the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC).

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the government, which owns 25 per cent of the company, signed off on a term sheet to purchase National Petroleum Limited's 75 per cent stake in West Indies Oil for US$30 million.

He told legislators that the previous administration had offered US$81 million for the shares.

"It is worth more than US$81 million, so I am not necessarily condemning the previous government," he said.

In November 2010, then prime minister, Baldwin Spencer, told Parliament that his administration was moving to acquire the shares and that the acquisition would form an integral component of the government's "Power to the People Initiative".

Spencer said that the acquisition would not have increased government's debt stock.

He said rather, PDV CAB, a private company for which the government of Antigua & Barbuda is the sole shareholder, would borrow the funds for the acquisition.

Browne told Parliament that the government intends to partner with a Venezuela oil company on WIOC to transform it "into a subregional supplier of petroleum products" , as well as divest shares in the company to Antiguans.

"At least 49 per cent of the shares will be divested publicly, and we strongly encourage our citizens ... to purchase shares in what will become the most profitable business entity on the island - if it is not already," Browne said.

WIOC last recorded a profit of EC$19 million, he said. The company promotes itself as a leading supplier of petroleum products and services in Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica.

- CMC