Local brewery return a step closer

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The Gaston Browne administration is making progress on its promise to return a brewery to Antigua and Barbuda with this week’s move in Parliament to greenlight the acquisition of a 10 percent share in Brewtech Antigua.
The government has entered agreements with the Germany-based brewer, Brewtech GmbH, which has undertaken to raise some U.S. $13 million to finance the project.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the Lower House on Tuesday that the shares being sought by the government were valued at U.S. $600,000. The abandoned brewery plant at Crabbes Peninsula is being proposed as part payment to meet that buy-in.
“The parties have agreed that the purchase price for 10 percent of the issued shares in the company will be paid by the government to the company as follows: U.S. $500,000 being the agreed value of the infrastructure and physical plant on the property; U.S. $100,000 or E.C. $270,000 being the capitalised rent,” Browne stated.
That capitalised rent is to be taken from the U.S. $100,000 in rent Brewtech Antigua will pay for the first five years on its 25-year lease for the land on which the brewery plant is situated. Those first five years run from 2016 to 2021. In 2021 the company will start paying its rent annually.
“One of the manifesto pledges that we made was that we will re-establish a brewery here having lost the Wadadli Brewery to St. Vincent and we held discussions with the former principals of the Wadadli Brewery prior to the elections and that is why we were able to make the bold statement in our manifesto,” Browne said.
Former Prime Minister Sir Lester Bird took point on securing the investor after his Antigua Barbuda Labour Party returned to government in 2014.
But according to the PM, the progress on the project was stymied by the former operators who were reluctant to give up the lease even though they were no longer producing beer locally.
“They were trying to ensure that there’s no competing beer factory in Antigua, certainly not utilising that property. We had to literally threaten them with legal action to get back the property.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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