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By Latrishka Thomas

The 75 or so workers of the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), or Scotiabank Antigua, can take comfort in the fact that they will be paid the severance due to them, following news that the bank has been sold.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne confirmed this with Observer yesterday saying that, “they [bank officials] met with the staff [Tuesday] afternoon and reassured them”.

“Those who stay will get new contracts from Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB),” he added.

On Tuesday, the Canadian bank announced that it had reached an agreement to sell its local operations to ECAB, “subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions”.

The release further stated that the move “supports the Bank’s strategic decision to focus on operations across its footprint where it can achieve greater scale and deliver the highest value for customers”.

Browne, who is also the Minister of Finance, elaborated on the transaction, remarking that “ECAB and ACB will be more resilient as a consequence of the acquisition of BNS and the RBC [Royal Bank of Canada] branches respectively. They will become less prone to failure from catastrophic events such as Covid-19”.

He also said that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda will become the single largest shareholder in Scotiabank, which currently has two branches on island.

In November 2018, Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holding Limited (RFHL) announced, in a statement, that it was seeking to acquire Scotiabank operations in Guyana, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The RFHL statement said, at the time, that the purchase price was 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 and Guyana had initially expressed reservations about the proposed acquisition, PM Browne indicating that his government would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the move, as he lobbied for the bank to be sold to a local financial institution.

Browne’s handling of the situation was met with much criticism.

Now, the prime minister told Observer that the “ABLP has been vindicated once again.

“We bang them off on Global Ports, WIOC, UWI, BNS, and LIAT will follow,” he exclaimed.

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