ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 23rd February 2015……..Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne and Foreign Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Her Excellency Delcy Rodriguez, on Saturday 21st February successfully hammered out an agreement covering the acquisition of the West Indies Oil Company WIOC.
Foreign Minister Rodriguez and her team of ambassadors and technicians flew into Antigua on Friday on the instructions of President Nicolas Maduro, fulfilling a promise made to Prime Minister Browne in Costa Rica to collaborate on the acquisition of one of the most significant business enterprise in Antigua and Barbuda.
“We had a most successful - most productive meeting. We have in essence and in principal agreed to the terms of our arrangement which include an equity participation by Venezuela as well as a loan facility to help us to upgrade the West Indies Oil Company facility. Our plan is to turn WIOC into a major petrol distribution hub in the northern Caribbean. We have sold them the idea and they have agreed to support us. They will be providing 24 million US dollars in funding,” Prime Minister Browne stated.
The country’s leader also announced that his government has secured an additional 30 million US dollars from a Chinese investor who will partner with Antigua and Barbuda in the acquisition.
“The excess funds will be utilized for maintenance and expansion of WIOC. We intend to turn WIOC into a major profit centre with the government maintaining fifty-one percent of the shares. Some of the shares will be divested to Antiguans and Barbudans eventually. I think WIOC is poised to become a major facility in the sub-region. This new enterprise has the ability to create more jobs for our people and make an even more significant contribution towards national development,” said PM Browne.
The country’s leader stated that this is a great opportunity for the country and it is being made possible by the partnership with Venezuela. He thanked President Maduro and Foreign Minister Rodriguez for their government’s commitment to Antigua and Barbuda and outlined that the partnership will further help to strengthen and deepen the relationship. He said this particular partnership will redound to the benefit of both peoples of Antigua and Barbuda and Venezuela.
Foreign Minister Rodriguez said that Venezuela is committed to Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean and the agreements reached demonstrate how deep the relationship is with Antigua and Barbuda. She noted that the partnership on WIOC acquisition will be beneficial to both countries.
Government currently owns twenty-five percent of the shares in WIOC. The remaining seventy-five percent of the shares are being offered at US $30 million dollars.
Prime Minister Browne has indicated that it is his government’s intention to expand WIOC to become an export facility, which will grow the country’s foreign exchange, generate jobs and grow the economy.