The Barbados National Oil Company Limited (BNOCL) has confirmed the signing of an agreement for the sale of its subsidiary, the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL), to regional petroleum products giant the Sol Group.
However, in a media release today the company said completion of the sale, expected before the end of March this year, would be subjected to a number of conditions, including regulatory approvals.
At the same time BNOCL is assuring Barbadians that it will continue to be the sole importer, owner and distributor of gasoline, diesel and fuel oil on the island.
“Consumers will continue to access product at their regular sources as before. Prices at the pumps will only change in accordance with the price of imported products as is currently done,” the company said in a short statement.
Such a deal would fall under the fair competition division of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and would require its approval.
And while the FTC was not in a position to comment on the matter today, Barbados TODAY understands that the regulatory agency was yet to receive official notification of the deal.
The FTC does not currently regulate the BNTCL. However, according to the Fair Competition Act, any public bid for the control of an entity would be considered a merger and had the potential to lead to a dominant position, and would therefore require application and subsequent investigation by the FTC.
In January last year Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr De DeLisle Worrell called for the sale of the BNTCL, pointing out that the achievement of Government’s 2015-2016 financial year target of reducing
the fiscal deficit to four per cent of gross domestic product would depend on the completion of the planned divestment of the BNTCL.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced the planned sale last April, stating at the time Government was simply “waiting on the cheque”.
Sinckler, who at the time was delivering the third annual lecture of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) on the topic Transforming Statutory Corporations in Barbados: A focus on FSC’s Development Five Years On had declined to give details but said “we have proposed to sell it and it will be sold soon”.
Government first announced plans in 2014 to sell the BNTCL, which was valued at more than $70 million at the time. However,
neither Sinckler nor BNTCL General Manager Winton Gibbs would give details of the sale.
In July last year FTC’s Chief Executive Officer Sandra Sealy told Barbados TODAY she was keeping a close eye on the pending sale of the agency to a private entity, adding that she was yet to receive any official documents regarding the sale.
Efforts to get a comment from the Sol Group or Sinckler on the sale agreement have so far been unsuccessful.