Keen on any large injections of cash into the struggling economy, the Mia Mottley administration has given its blessing to a Canadian firm’s $2.4 billion bid for a 75 per cent stake in the Barbadian SOL Group.
But Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams said today the parties still required the approval of the local regulator, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to conclude the transaction.
“While the ministry welcomes investment in the energy sector from diverse players, this transaction is subject to the approval of the Fair Trading Commission, which by law has jurisdiction in this undertaking,” Abrahams told Barbados TODAY.
“The Ministry of Energy and Water Resources is aware that the SOL Group and Parkland Fuels Corporation have recently announced a business combination agreement. It is understood that this transaction includes the combination of the SOL Group’s business operations in the 23 territories in which the group operates with Parkland Fuels Corporation,” he said.
The Minister said it is also understood that Parkland Fuels is one of Canada’s growing independent suppliers and marketers of fuel and petroleum products, as well as a leading convenience store operator.
SOL, owned by Sir Kyffin Simpson, had come close to buying the state oil importer, the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL).
At the end of last November, the FTC denied an application by the SOL Group to buy BNTCL in light of the terms of the agreement at the time, saying that it would only approve the transaction if certain issues were addressed.
Earlier this month, the companies announced in a joint statement that the transaction and related fees and expenses would be financed by Parkland with a fully underwritten financing package,
The deal, which officials are hoping to close at the end of this year, should also see SOL acquiring approximately 9.9 per cent stake in Parkland, it added.
The transaction, the release said, was subject to “customary third-party consents and regulatory approvals, including approvals of the Toronto Stock Exchange”.
“The SOL brands will remain in place, and the SOL business will retain key management and continue to be managed from the Caribbean,” the release said.
The move would mean considerable sums of money for the struggling Barbados economy while at the same time “remove the pressure off those who wanted to buy BNTCL”, consumer rights advocate Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt told Barbados TODAY.
“If there is a sale that will bring more monies to Barbados I am for it. I am not against that at all because our country lacks foreign exchange and that may very well assist in that effort,” said Gibbs-Taitt.
SOL’s competitor, France-based RUBIS, had secured an interim injunction to stop the proposed US$100 million purchase of BNTCL, which was offered for sale by the Freundel Stuart administration in January 2017.
RUBIS had filed an application in the High Court for judicial review of a decision to approve the inclusion of a 15-year moratorium clause.
Since assuming office at the end of May, the Labour Party Government has thrown the sale of the BNTCL and the Hilton Barbados Resort, another state asset, into doubt.