Daily Observer: Members of the public have flocked to buy shares in the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) since they went on sale last month, bosses claim.
And anyone still wishing to purchase some, now has another month to do so.
General Manager Gregory Georges told Observer yesterday that response to the sale had been “very good” but that he could not give specific details.
The regional oil storage and petroleum products provider has applied for an extension of time in which to sell 10 percent of the Antigua and Barbuda government’s stake in the firm.
The sale period had been due to expire yesterday.
Georges said the application was made to the Eastern Caribbean Regulatory Commission.
“And we wait approval from them. A one-month extension would take us to May 21,” he told Observer.
“Even though we have not yet received approval from the Commission to extend the share sale offer, it remains open. So investors will still be able to go to our website and apply,” he confirmed.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne previously urged citizens to take advantage of the initiative.
“By going public and offering shares in WIOC, our government is providing the opportunity for Antiguans and Barbudans to build wealth, secure their retirement, diversify their investment portfolios and to build a secure financial future for their children,” he said.
“An investment in WIOC will be an investment in your family’s future and the development of our nation’s economy,” Browne added.
More than 300,000 shares were made available for purchase last month, at a price of EC$60 each. There is a minimum allocation of 50 shares per applicant, requiring a buyer to put forward at least EC$3,000.
The Antigua and Barbuda government has been a shareholder in WIOC since 1980. It gained controlling interest in 2015.
The shares sale has not been without controversy with the former owner of Half Moon Bay Hotel, Natalia Querard, seeking the proceeds through the courts.
In May 2014, the Privy Council ruled that Querard should be compensated US$26.6 million after the government compulsorily acquired her hotel property which had been destroyed by Hurricane Luis in 1995.
In August last year, the government, through its attorney, agreed not to dispose of any shares, including those in WIOC, until an appeal is heard by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to determine how Querard would be compensated for the balance of the amount owed for her property.
Querard’s legal team claims the government breached that by putting some of its WIOC shares up for sale in March.
Georges told Observer yesterday he could not comment on the matter, saying it was an issue between the government and the hotel owners.
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