New brewery will be locally owned

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Antiguans and Barbudans will, if all goes according to plan, have significant stake in BREWTECH Antigua Limited which is expected to return to the country and start operations next year.
Jobst Meier Zu Biesen, managing director of BREWTECH Antigua Limited, yesterday told OBSERVER media the aim is for the brewery to be owned primarily by Antiguans.
“It is an Antiguan company and our aim is to have majority Antiguan shareholders so that it could be called truly Antiguan. One reason is for marketing purposes and secondly it is about the benefit of the country. If it is an Antiguan country the dividends plus everything else stays in the country,” Biesen said.
He added that if the company was owned fully by a foreign investor then all the profits and other benefits would be for the investor himself. However, he stated that, the management of the brewery will be based entirely on the shareholder status.
 The Germany-based brewer, will assume responsibility for the setting up and management of the new brewery plant at Crabbs Peninsula in the interim stage. He said that all the engineering has been taken care of and he will also be responsible for setting up the organisation.
Biesen claimed that he is already in possession of the various recipes for the products and will be ready to begin production as soon as the facility is up and running. He, however, acknowledged that decisions from that point will depend on the shareholding structure of the company. He asserted that all stakeholders will have to sit together and decide how they want to move forward.
Some of the decisions yet to be made, according to Biesen, are whether the technical and commercial aspects will be done fully by foreign investors or whether local stakeholders would take on the commercial responsibility of the company. He said that if there are no local investors then the foreign investors will run the entire operation themselves.
Costa Constantinides, technical project head, added that the investors have been in contact with all the people who formerly worked for BREWTECH at Antigua Brewery and they have made a long list of the old staff members whom he expects will make up the majority of the manpower needed to get the new brewery off the ground.
He said that because they have previous knowledge of working in a brewery, this should make everything a lot easier. Nevertheless, they would need to be trained on how to operate the new equipment, he added.
The company is expected to begin operations in August 2019, currently, it has 10 full-time employees and will be employing an additional 50 once the company is opened.
Earlier this year, the government moved to Parliament to approve the acquisition of 10 percent shares in the company which has undertaken to raise some US$13 million to finance the project.
At the time, Prime Minister Gaston Browne had told the Lower House that the shares being sought by the government were valued at US $600,000. The abandoned brewery plant at Crabbes Peninsula was being proposed as part payment to meet that buy-in to fulfill what was a manifesto promise which was to re-establish a brewery in Antigua, having lost the Wadadli Brewery to St. Vincent.
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.

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