Government says London-based company willing to sell shares

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the London-based Global Ports Holdings (GPH) is willing to allow Caribbean nationals to purchase shares in the company that has entered into a multi-million dollar agreement for the development of the cruise port here.

Browne has said that the US$83 million agreement with GPH would change the landscape of the island and that the company has agreed to change aspects of the agreement to allow for the investment by local and regional investors.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (File Photo)

“We have said to Global Ports and this is in response to the agitation of members of the opposition in which they are asking for Antiguans and Barbudans to buy shares. We have asked them to broaden the scope of their company to list their company, to have a port company in which they will allow Antiguans and Barbudans to buy shares along with others in the Caribbean to buy shares in the company

“They have agreed. So one of the amendments we will make to our agreement is that Global Ports will convert its company into a listed company in which they will allow for the sale of shares to people in the region,” Browne said.

He said though that Antigua and Barbuda would not at this time be seeking to purchase shares since the new company “would only become viable if the (cruise ship) traffic increases exponentially.

“Global ports they are prepared to take the risks. They believe that within the next few years they can literally triple the cruise ship arrivals and that’s the only way they will be able to recover their 80 plus million dollars investment.

“But from a risk standpoint, it is not an investment I would have recommended at this time. After the product would have grown and become profitable and sustainable then I have no difficulty, but it shows again we are a listening government,” he added.

The existing agreement with GPH announced in February allows for US$21 million to end the bond with Antigua Commercial Bank (ACB), US$40 million to construct the new pier, US$25 million to construct new shops, five million grant to fund local entrepreneurship and a further US$2 million to improve the environment at Heritage Key.

The GPH, established in 2004, promotes itself on its website as the world’s largest cruise port operator with an established presence in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific regions, including extensive commercial port operations in Turkey and Montenegro.

Under the terms of the 30-year agreement, GPH will take over the management of cruise ports here in exchange for infrastructure and debt payments, wiping away the US$21 million debt for the pier. In addition, GPH will complete the fifth port to allow the port to handle larger ships, capable of carrying at least 6,000 passengers, as well as the enhancement of the current Heritage Mall properties and the development of other facilities.

The Government said that GPH would also be involved in the further development of the Fort James Beach hotel.

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1 COMMENT

  1. That would be one way for them to raise funds. Equity instead of debt. The only thing is, Antiguans will not be the ones to buy the shares. Antiguans buy bonds. They do not like to take any risk. And therefore I won’t be surprise if the share are bought by Trinidadian banks and others as diversification of their investment portfolio

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