Prime Minister Gaston Browne says his government’s policy on foreign companies giving locals the first right of refusal also applies to telecommunications companies.
Browne was responding to reports this week that Irish telecommunications company Digicel, filed for bankruptcy.
The prime minister told an interview on 664 Connect’s, The Hot Seat that despite the country’s challenges with COVID-19 he’ll gladly enter talks for the purchase of Digicel if the owners decide to sell.
“We have to try and create the opportunity for ownership. I mean Digicel is in trouble right now and even though we have our problems with COVID, if Dennis O’Brien says he’s selling tomorrow we’ll buy Digicel,” he said.
Browne hastened to clarify “I’m talking about the Antiguan branch, we’ll buy it.”
But the prime minister said “we’ll buy it providing that we get a good price.”
Digicel has not announced any plans to sell but instead insists that it will be business as usual.
The prime minister says buying Digicel will guarantee that more money stays in the local economy.
“In so doing tens of millions of dollars that are repatriated to Ireland on an annual basis could stay here creating some sustainable profits and opportunities for the people of Antigua & Barbuda so it is a sensible thing to do,” he told The Hot Seat during a zoom interview.
In a statement Digicel said at the start of April, we announced refinancing activities which, when complete, will strengthen our balance sheet by reducing our debt by USD $1.7 billion, extending our maturities and reducing our ongoing financing costs.
‘Following overwhelming support from our debtholders for these proposals, we are now progressing with the required administrative processes.
‘As such, we announced details of a proposed Scheme of Arrangement in the Bermudian Courts in connection with Digicel Group One Limited, which is purely an intermediate financing holding company.
‘This Scheme has the support of over 97 per cent of its bondholders and also involves the appointment of a light touch joint provisional liquidators to oversee the implementation of the Scheme.
‘It’s important to point out that this will have no impact on our day to day operations, our staff, our suppliers, our customers or any aspect of our ongoing activities – it is business as usual.
‘We will provide further updates on this as we progress.’
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here’s a guy who can’t offer a guaranteed minimum wage to unemployed workers during the pandemic because “there isn’t enough money”, but now suddenly has enough money to purchase a phone company
Antigua is reopening because according to the Leadership it was said a few weeks ago, that financially,Antigua didn’t have the luxury to lockdown for 3 or 4 months.
We have to hurry up and open the country and airport because we need the funds.
The Leadership is asking for loans and funds because for the couple months lockdown, we have been depleted.
The country has no reserve funds and we have seen this over the past few months.
Yet we are jumping up to buy digicel shares. Exactly who are buying these digicel shares ? Antigua or money from the chinese.
These Chinese are buying up everything and we don’t know what is being brokered for these deals and all these loans we are getting from them.
One day we are going to wake up and the Chinese will come knocking on our doors saying they own us.
Gaston Browne,please take your head of the sand.There are persons in Antigua and Barbuda.Who received EC$350.00 per month from Social Security.There are times when those persons could not get their monthly payouts.If your Administration(Social Security) cannot and could pay persons consistently.Why do you think buying Digicel in Antigua would help.You people would run it into the ground.Look at the lousy service the customers are getting from INET/APUA
Our illustrious leader is so poor boast it is not funny but hilarious. I guess the PM would be begging China for another loan and then they would own it. We know he doesn’t want any loan from the World Bank and the IMF and they are not giving the loud mouth none anyway.
Oh I forgot, he has a very rich godfather in Antigua.
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