Thu | Jun 20, 2019

Antigua and Barbuda still optimistic about sale of Scotiabank to local investors

Published:Monday | May 20, 2019 | 11:36 AM
Melford - Contributed photo

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it remains optimistic that an agreement could reached regarding the sale of Scotiabank to a consortium of local stakeholders.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas says while the Gaston Browne administration is maintaining its position regarding the sale of the bank, it is still optimistic that an agreement can be reached to benefit both parties.

“…logic has returned to the conversation and I think that there is going to be in the coming weeks a meeting of the minds again and we may well have a median position that everyone can live with,” he said.

“But clearly, it is just not a question in the government of Antigua and Barbuda’s mind about the continuation of the bank under a different name, but it is about understanding that within the context of that equation there is wealth that is being generated (and) the government of Antigua and Barbuda has clearly stated its position that it wants to be a part of retention of that wealth within the economy,” Nicholas added.

Last November, the Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited announced that it was seeking to acquire Scotiabank operations in several Caribbean countries.

Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana had initially expressed reservations about the proposed acquisition with St John’s indicating that it would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the move.

Antigua and Barbuda has said that it wants assurances that local banks will be given priority to purchase Scotiabank’s operations on the island and that local persons’ investments and savings will be protected.

St. John’s had requested a meeting with Scotiabank officials to discuss  the matter and a statement issued after the Cabinet meeting last week noted that the “Cabinet was informed that the parties interested in the sale and purchase are still holding discussions.”

But Nicholas said that the government maintains a principled position regarding the sale of the bank and made reference to the controversy that had followed when the government and the Jamaica-based hotel chain, Sandals, were at odds over tax payment.

In April, the Suriname-based Caribbean Community Competition Commission said the intended sale of Scotiabank’s assets in nine Caribbean countries could have anti-competitive effects in at least three CARICOM member states.

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