No deal!

Court injunction stops BNTCL sale

The controversial multi-million dollar sale of the state-owned Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to regional petroleum products giant Sol has been stopped in its tracks by two legal challenges mounted by Sol’s competitor Rubis Caribbean.

The High Court last Friday granted Rubis an interim injunction until April 3, 2017, throwing a spanner in the works of Government’s plan to beef up the dwindling foreign exchange reserves, which had fallen to a 14-year low of 10.3 weeks of import cover as of the end of last year.

Rubis had lodged an application for a judicial review, challenging the inclusion of a 15-year moratorium clause in the agreement between the Freundel Stuart administration and the Sir Kyffin Simpson-led Sol for the US$100 million merger, which the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is currently probing to determine whether or not it should be approved.

The clause prohibits the construction of another oil terminal in Barbados, as well as the granting of licences for the storage of fuel, aviation fuel and jet fuel for the commercial and industrial purposes.

Chief Executive Officer of Rubis Caribbean Mauricio Nicholls told Barbados TODAY this evening that his legal team had advised that “this moratorium should not be granted because it would constitute an illegal restriction” of the right granted to the Minister of Energy by law to decide on such matters.   

“With the application we also filed for an urgent interim injunction to restrain the parties in the proposed merger, which are basically Sol subsidiary and BNOCL [Barbados National Oil Company Limited] from including this clause in the agreement in case the FTC approves the sale of BNTCL as submitted to them,” Nicholls disclosed.

The Rubis executive further revealed that the High Court will on Thursday hear submissions from relevant parties to determine whether the injunction should be lifted or even extended.

Barbados TODAY understands that attorneys for Rubis filed a second but separate legal claim against BNOCL on Monday, challenging the fairness of the tendering process for the sale of BNTCL, on the basis that the conditions offered to Sol were never offered to Rubis.

However, when pressed for details on the offers referred to in the claim, Nicholls stressed that due to the sensitive nature of the case he would not comment further.

Rubis has been opposed to the deal from the very beginning, arguing that the sale of the island’s lone oil terminal gives its competitor the monopoly in oil storage and distribution, and would lead to existential solipsism.

Nicholls, last month put Government on notice that it was prepared to pursue all legal avenues to prevent an oil storage monopoly, after it was revealed that as part of the sale agreement, made public by the FTC, the administration had committed to maintaining a single terminal here until 2032, albeit under private ownership.

“We are prepared to fight the battle with all the elements the law gives us to fight that battle because we are fighting for our survival and our future here in this country. We are prepared to fight as hard as we can. We will fight it legally, ethically, with the right arguments and the right forums, but this is a huge issue for us,” Nicholls had said at the time.

After the international ratings agency Standard & Poor’s had downgraded Barbados from B- to CCC+ last month, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had said he was confident the FTC would approve the sale which, when taken with a draw down which was expected from the Sam Lord’s Castle development project and a First Citizens bank loan, would return the reserves to “well above” the desired 12 weeks of imports.
colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

21 Responses to No deal!

  1. Arthur Collymore
    Arthur Collymore March 29, 2017 at 1:00 am

    At the heart of this sale is the underhanded, secretive, conspiratorial manner in which this DLP admin conducts the country’s business. Too often we are made aware of transactions undertaken in our name after contracts are drawn & signatures affixed on the dotted line (Cahill comes to mind). Our head of govt acts as though the prestigious office of PM is his personal plaything & believes that because he is elusive, secretive & reclusive that he can be dismissive of our concerns. We are pensive but within the next year we will be elective in sending a clear message to DEM that we are no longer passive.

    Reply
    • Lilian Lloyd
      Lilian Lloyd March 29, 2017 at 2:59 am
      Reply
    • Nikki Nikki
      Nikki Nikki March 29, 2017 at 5:18 am

      Well said!

      Reply
    • Sunil Brome
      Sunil Brome March 29, 2017 at 6:13 am

      Very well said. Even when faced with a desperate sale we can find underhand dealings, not only the sale of the Terminal but in essence the Monopoly, which when given the commodity is something that can affect the whole country. If only there was more transparency on Sandals…

      Reply
    • Andrew Simpson March 29, 2017 at 6:40 am

      The ayes have it?

      Reply
  2. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn March 29, 2017 at 3:27 am

    The fair trading commission have no choice than to prove it. If I paying you to do a job and you want to stop me. What you think would happened. You will be looking for a job as simple as that. Their nothing such as fair trade commission. It only benefit certain people.THAT IS JUST A NAME.

    Reply
  3. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn March 29, 2017 at 3:29 am

    THE GOVERNMENT WAITING ON THAT MONEY REAL BAD.IF THAT DEAL IS STOP THE DLP WILL SINK IMMEDIATELY.

    Reply
  4. Jennifer March 29, 2017 at 4:37 am

    @Angus Benn – From how you speak you like you believe everything the government says about financial matters. Be careful what you masticate and ingest. Have you ever seen any of their financial records???? Many businesses say the same shyte and still their doors cannot close. Until you become their accountant general then don’t bother about any sinking. There is more old cons in this game. Them want money real bad yet they spending on non essential entities and aiding out whales and increasing their pay etc. Have a morning Kenco on me.

    Reply
  5. Steve Thomas
    Steve Thomas March 29, 2017 at 5:19 am

    It Seems that the Infastructure around Dem is crumbling…. Elections soon come!

    Reply
  6. Tony Webster March 29, 2017 at 5:41 am

    @Arthur Collymore. Agreed!!! Time to send strong messages, to government (yes, DEM “servants of the people”)…no matter WHICH party is in power. HEY! We ARE 50 years old and time surely has come that we need to demonstrate that we are adults now!

    NEXT: throw away your nom-de-plumes, and stand upright as “full” man, and “full” woman.

    BTW Arthur…these “spanners in the works” affecting this big deal, and the othuh one on Bay Street, must’ve soiled a few pants over at M.O.F. and the utuh (Ag.) Office-in-the-Tenth-Clould at Church Village. Good thing that unlike Venezuela…we still got toilet-paper , hereabouts and nowabouts!

    Reply
  7. Sunil Brome
    Sunil Brome March 29, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Angus Benn you really should make yourself aware of the powers of the Barbados Fair Trading Commission.
    All the legislation is published on their website which makes for long reading but also gives scope as to their role in such cases.
    If not bound to adhere to their decisions Government and Private sector organizations may enter into deals not beneficial to Barbados on a whole i.e a 15 year monopoly on petroleum product storage and distribution. If Government really wants the sale they more than likely would have to do so without all the fancy hidden clauses that we Barbados are not privy to seeing until reviewed by the same Fair Trading Commission.
    Given that with human element there is room for digression from the purpose a deal like this would be hard to approve given transparencies provided but not impossible.

    Reply
  8. Freeagent March 29, 2017 at 6:49 am

    You Barbadians make me laugh. Did you have a say in the sale of the Barbados National Bank or the Insurance Corporation of Barbados?
    LOL

    Reply
  9. FairMindedCitizen March 29, 2017 at 7:37 am

    @freeagent how are you going to compare those sales to something as essential as oil and gas that affects every single Barbadian individual and business, you people are crazy and extremely partisan

    Reply
  10. Sue Donym March 29, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Things that really make you wonder! One one hand this administration paints a picture of a country in need of stimulus and creative thinking; on the other a set of decision makers driven to madness through desperation!

    What good could another massive monopoly do for the country? Importation, processing, storage, distribution and pricing controlled by so few for so long? As if we needed another reminder that we are paying crazy salaries for people who seem to do little more than shuffle papers and attend cocktail receptions when they should have some regulatory and operational oversight with the objective of protecting public interests!

    Reply
  11. Quietly Observing March 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Freeagent BNB and ICB were not cash cows for the government. As a matter of interest Barbados National Bank was losing money, under government’s control BNB would never be this successful. So get real. Furthermore the public was invited to buy shares in both entities and policyholders of ICB were also invited to invest. BF&M owners of ICBL owns 51% National Insurance still own shares in ICBL. Any other ordinary Barbarians were invited to buy shares in BNTCL?

    Reply
  12. jrsmith March 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    @, Freeagent , hail, hail on the button , must add further this is how bajans are treated …………………..
    This stinks and is deceited , this happening because at last what bajans should have done 3 decades ago has happen , calling out how politicians conduct barbados business….this exposes what really goes on ,
    This show how barbados is control by foreigners ………………..
    ………………………………………………………………………………..
    Welcome to the world of (POLITICAL CORPORATE CORRUPTION)
    well ,well , well at last……………………

    Reply
  13. greengiant March 29, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    You are so right, ask them Freeagent. I don’t see why any of us regardless of political affiliation should wish this sector to be dominated by any multi national corporation after the mess left by Exon Mobil at Needham’s point and Shell at Gibbon’s in Christ Church.

    Sol is a barbadian company that brings much foreign exchange to this country, so apart from politics what other reason could we not agree with them getting the deal with an advantage for years to come. Sandals got a golden hand shake and we were all upset, whats wrong with sol getting the same hand shake? How come we are not hearing the opposition on this one? It’s too hot for them, they know they will have to depend on the same sol group.

    This is just another case of some people wanting the economy to hit rock bottom in the hope of this forcing an election, but at who’s expense? Do we need to endure further hardships just so those who left office two elections ago and entered opposition behaving like they were still governing, and predicting the instability of a one term government to regain the power they desperately desire? It’s mystifying to even think of it. I wish this space was enough to place the tainted pie of both BLP and DLP in one article. Hopefully I will enter the heat of the political battle, and expose their nakedness in the square. It’s the moment I desire most.

    Reply
    • Jack Frost March 29, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Are you aware that the sol subsidiary is a St. Lucian company. Where will the foreign exchange if any go?

      Reply
  14. Ideliver69 March 29, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    @, Freeagent Did the sale of BNB or ICBL creat a banking or insurance monopoly.
    you comparing Apples and Oranges

    Reply
  15. tedd March 29, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    this is nowhere close to BNB and ICBL, this is a monopoly those were not. if we got fed up with ICB or BNB price gouging we could go to one of their competitors. This situation is about giving one firm a monopoly and blocking anyone from competing with them. the best solution for the public is to sell BNTC to sol without the monopoly clause and allow rubis to build their own facility ( More vat and construction work for the economy). this would compensate government for the reduced price sol will be willing to pay for a company that is not a monopoly.

    Reply
  16. Anne March 29, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Smh… looking like another LIME / FLOW monopoly.

    Reply

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