WIOC CEO praises benefits of government’s acquisition

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The plan by the government to acquire the majority shares in the West Indies Oil Company Limited (WIOC), three years ago, was a step in the right direction.
That’s according to Gregory Georges, chief executive officer of WIOC, who was speaking during a recent interview with OBSERVER media.
Georges was responding to a question about whether the acquisition was a worthwhile venture.
The Antigua and Barbuda government became the majority shareholder in WIOC following a U.S. $30 million buyout of National Petroleum Limited (NPL) in 2015.
The government received many criticisms from the public about the purchase and members of the opposition United Progressive Party who questioned the pedigree of one of the investors.
Georges, who was appointed CEO of the company a year before the purchase said: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
He said: “In 2016, our profitability was in the range of E.C. $17 million. In 2017, we are looking at a projection of about $22 million.”
In 2016, the government of Antigua and Barbuda received a cheque for approximately E.C. $5.5 million from WIOC, marking the company’s first return since the acquisition in April 2015.
Georges said by acquiring shares in the oil company, the current investors are taking a long-term view of the business and are therefore willing to invest more in the organisation.
The CEO asserted that the previous shareholders took a short-term view of the business and invested “very little in the company.”
WIOC provides oil storage services in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and the Eastern Caribbean.
Georges said in the initial stages, the government bought 75 percent of WIOC’s shares from the foreign entity NPL, having previously owned 25 percent.
Since then, they divested 49 percent of the shares – 25 percent to Petróleos de Venezuela, and 24 percent to a Chinese entity.
The government still retains 51 percent majority ownership in the company.

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