ST JOHN’S – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it is prepared to hold direct talks with Scotiabank over the acquisition of its local branch here after indicating that the Trinidad and Tobago-based financial institution was seeking as much as “300 per cent” more than the sale price.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne had earlier this month indicated that his administrative had received “positive” feedback to a proposal that would allow it to own at least 40 per cent of the Scotiabank branch here, which is being sold as part of several branches in the Caribbean to the Trinidad and Tobago-based financial institution.
But speaking on a radio programme here, Browne said while the Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) had agreed “in principle to the 40 per cent shares for Antigua and Barbuda, and when I say Antigua and Barbuda, a consortium of banks or the banks and the government of Antigua and Barbuda”.
“However, we are not quite happy with the maths. You know they come with the sophisticated talks, so for example the value that we understand the bank to have they want to price the value of the bank at about 300 per cent of its value and we have said to them we are not accepting that.”
Browne told radio listeners that his administration is prepared to “pay whatever you paid for it that is going to be the value that we will accept”.
Last November, the RFHL 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.
The RFHL statement said that the banks being acquired are located in Guyana, St Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It said that the purchase price is US$123 million, which represents US$25 million consideration for total shareholding of Scotiabank Anguilla Limited; and a premium of US$98 million over net asset value for operations in the remaining eight countries.
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.
Browne told radio listeners that if RHFL is prepared to accept the offer of Antigua and Barbuda government paying “whatever they pay Scotiabank Canada for the bank . . . then I think we definitely have a deal.
“If they do not then this matter becomes a situation where we say you know what we are not having any deal with you, we will go and buy the bank ourselves, we will go and talk to Scotiabank ourselves”. (CMC)