Regional governments reach 'consensus' on LIAT deal

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A new agreement has apparently been struck as the government of Barbados has apparently come off its initial stance of requesting US $40 million from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GOAB) to acquire most of its 49 percent shareholding in regional air carrier, LIAT (1974) Ltd.

“We have a general consensus on the way forward,” declared Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. He attended a LIAT shareholder government’s meeting held over a week ago. He confirmed that in that meeting with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves,

“That consensus,” continued Browne, “will result in the recapitalization of LIAT as well as the restructuring of LIAT to place it on a path of sustainability.”

Talks broke down between the GOAB and Barbados back in June when the two sides could not come to an agreement on the purchase price for most of Barbados’s 49 percent shares in the regional air carrier.

The Barbados government, then, was seeking approximately US $21 million more than the GOAB was willing to offer.

Concerning the new deal, however, Prime Minister Browne said, “I’m not in a position to give the details at this point, but to say that the issues that we’ve had, there has been some convergence and there’s now a consensus and a way forward.”

In November, the GOAB secured a loan from Venezuelan Bank, BANCO ALBA, for US $15.8 million as it expected to use most of the acquired financing to become the largest shareholder of the regional carrier.

The Antigua and Barbuda shareholding currently sits at 34 percent.

After talks to acquire Barbados shares had broken down, Antigua and Barbuda sought a way-around the stalled negotiations by seeking a capital call through other existing and potential regional shareholding governments.

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