Prime Minister Gaston Browne says Antigua and Barbuda is prepared to acquire further shares in the cash-strapped regional airline, but is unwilling to pay an estimated US$44 million being asked by Barbados for the sale of its shares in the airline.
The two countries have been holding discussions on the acquisition of the shares and last week, Browne told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the talks were still ongoing despite media reports in Bridgetown that they had broken down.
Speaking on a radio programme here, Prime Minister Browne told radio listeners if St. John’s had to settle at the asking price of US$44 million “that would be a steal for Barbados.
“We are not in the process of giving away money. We are in the process of creating value and to get fair value for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, so as far as I am concerned, and I have said this to the Prime Minister of Barbados (Mia Mottley), so she knows my thinking, telling her that discussions cannot start at US$44 million.
“So she knows the position and she has since come down,” Browne said, adding that he was looking to an amicable settlement of the negotiations and in the event that does occur, his administration is prepared to invest directly in the airline.
“And my colleagues will tell you that it was always my first option. The issue though about buying Barbados’ shares came about as a result of an impasse in which Barbados said it could not go any further, sell the planes, we said, look we cannot be a successful shrinking LIAT.
“We do not accept that and that’s the case, lets negotiate and we will buy all or some of the shares and they said they will sell up to 90 per cent of the shares. If we are unable to come to a satisfactory compromise then we will just put in our money and buy those shares and we can still get a majority position which is not necessarily what we are fighting for,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda currently holds 34 per cent of the shares and if it succeeds in convincing Bridgetown to part with its LIAT shares, would have 81 per cent of the airline that employs over 600 people and operates 491 flights weekly across 15 destinations.
St. John’s said it would seek to acquire the LIAT shares owned by Barbados, through a take-over of the liability of Barbados to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
During the radio programme, Prime Minister acknowledged that there’s a back and forth situation over a particular matter.
‘What we are saying here, we oppose the sale of the planes to pay off the debt so rather than selling the planes to a third party, Antigua and Barbuda says it would step in and assume Barbados’ shares associated with the acquisition of the planes.
“That’s a simple matter I understand okay. Unfortunately my (negotiating) team got involved in some kind of sophisticated negotiations which would have resulted in a settlement of 44 million. I don’t understand that kind of maths.”
He said what occurred initially is that the negotiation team “based on initial discussions had agreed on a proposal that was put forward. Barbados government had put forward a proposal for settlement at US$44 million and I am told that initially that our negotiating team agreed”.
He said he was disappointed that the negotiating team would have contemplated agreeing to the US$44 million.
“I understand mathematics, I understand percentages and I also understand value for money and I know if we were to settle at US$44 million that would be a steal for Barbados,” he added.
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Don’t know how our PM think he can out-whit Bajans. As I said before Barbados PM is no easy walk over….ask the USA.
Neither is Gaston. Viv 2.0. Asks the Brits.
He’s getting the silent treatment from Barbados as he persists in running his mouth. Let me grab a bag of popcorn and a comfy sofa.
LIAT is and has always been an insolvent company. I-N-S-O-L-V-E-N-T!!! Why would we pay $44M for an insolvent company? Barbados taking us for a ride.
There’s nothing like sending an unprepared team to negotiate on your behalf. They clearly did not understand the mandate. Lucky they didn’t come back with some horses.
Better yet Audley some;
‘…Bajan steel donkeys;
…Bajan jockeys to ride them;
.. Bajan .Flying fish and Coo-coo;
…Bajan Cherries; and
…Bajan Rum cakes.’
The PM’s method of arriving at a price as reported here ……’Antigua and Barbuda says it would step in and assume Barbados’ shares associated with the acquisition of the acquisition of the planes’ clear and understandable. Unknown here is what is the. ..’sophisticated’ method Barbados used to arrive at a US$44 million price? Can your reporters get the PM to expand on this?
If Barbados is the majority share holder then Mia should force the sale of the planes.
“We are not in the process of giving away money”. Can someone remind the PM that it’s tax payers money!. The same tax payers money he will most likely be pouring into this bucket with a hole in it.
Pensioners and workers can’t get their wages and he’s wanting to spend their money on a sentimental gamble!.
There are other airlines that can and will easily absorb ALL of LIATS destinations and possibly sell those flights cheaper. LIAT IS NOT ESSENTIAL TO THE CARIBBEAN!!..
LOCKING HORNS – RIPPING OFF HORN OR WEARING APPAREL
It has always been two Rams, ‘…Locking Horns,’ and not necessarily a ‘…Ewe and a Ram.’
Invariably, a Ram is battered and left seriously wounded and without a horn.
In these negotiations, one may see if Prime Minister Gaston Browne has the power to shave off Barbados’ shares or skill to rip off Prime Minister Mia Motley’s ‘…Horn or Wearing Apparel.’
In the interest of regional integration.
Two islands on the same side CARICOM.
LIAT is not profitable, proven.
A token sum for the shares in good faith is recommended.
Anything contrary Barbados should be considered as hostile and non coperative in the efforts to resuscitate a dieing LIAT.
PM Browne should seek support from the other share holders for support before sitting at the negotiation table again.
Sorry Mia but this Gaston Browne is not anywhere close as dumb as Baldwin and can’t count Lovell. They should have never let Barbados have increased their share in LIAT that easily while Antigua pumped in money as debt. You guys pull a smart one on Baldwin and Lovell. And it was aided by Gonsalves.
Antigua is not a dumping ground of your debt. Just fight it out with the IMF. Perhaps you will be asked to retrench some more public workers
Can you imagine if it was Lovell? Look how easily our ABST slipped through his fingers and end up with Sandals. Maybe the PM can send Mrs. Arindale to negotiate with Mia. She has more balls than Lovell and is not a pushover. She can handle Mia for sure.
LOVELL TO BAT
More cricket balls? Who said that?
As much as she may have more ‘…balls than Lovell,’ though he may not look as magnificent as ‘…Sir Viv or Brian Lara,’ put him in to bat, you may see what he does with ‘…balls loosely bowled between the wicket.’
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