Rubis Caribbean has not ruled out participating in a sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) if the five-month-old Mia Mottley Government goes ahead with a plan to divest the asset. Rubis Caribbean head, Mauricio Nicholls says it’s all up to Prime Minister Mottley and her Cabinet whether to shelve the sale plans initiated by the former Democratic Labour Party administration.
Further, Nicholls said he is still unsure whether the recent take-over of Sol by the Canadian Company Parkland Fuel Corporation brings an end to the controversy surrounding the sale of BNTCL.
This morning the Rubis managing director was not prepared to count the controversy as dead and buried until Sol withdraws or settles outstanding legal matters surrounding its bid and the FTC’s decision last November to reject the proposed acquisition as “anti-competitive”.
“This is a matter that we are going to have to discuss with our lawyers. We are yet to understand if Sol will still be proceeding with some of the legal matters it has in the courts of Barbados such as the legal challenge that they have made [against] the FTC’s ruling. So at this moment we are in consultation with our lawyers to decide what is the recommended course of action,” said Nicholls. Rubis also challenged the proposed BNTCL sale in court.
Last November, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) blocked the proposed acquisition by Sol “in its present form”. One of the main points of contention was a proposed 15-year moratorium in Sol’s favour on the building of new terminal facilities or import depots in Barbados. The FTC said it would be open to reviewing a revised proposal once the anti-competitive elements were addressed.
Following the FTC’s decision, Sol signaled its intent to challenge the ruling in court.
Nicholls told Barbados TODAY that while he does not mind the BNTCL remaining as a state-controlled entity, should the BLP administration be interested in selling the asset, Rubis is standing ready to participate in such a sale.
“The sale of the BNTCL is solely in the remit of the Government of Barbados and if they decide to keep the BNTCL we are absolutely fine with that. But if they reach the conclusion that they would like to explore a deal to sell the BNTCL then we will be interested in participating in the process. Ultimately the Government has to decide that for themselves but either way we are fine,” he explained.
As it relates to the entry of the new player in the market, Nicholls said that Rubis is not aware of any changes that Parkland will make to the way Sol does business. It was announced recently that Sol made the US$1.21 billion deal with the Parkland in which Sir Kyffin Simpson retains 25 per cent of the company.
“If any changes are made we will first need to understand what they are and then we decide how to react to them,” he noted.
According to the parameters of the Sol deal, after the second anniversary of the transaction the Simpson Group may sell its remaining interest in Sol to Parkland.
In announcing the deal last month, Sir Kyffin said it would “ensure an exciting and dynamic future for everyone.”
Attempts to reach officials at Sol for an update on its position regarding the BNTCL were unsuccessful.