Oct 12, 2016 News
…NIS is largest shareholder
A sale agreement has been concluded between the Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and the government. The government is now in possession of the 40 million shares DDL once had in the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI).
Kaieteur News understands that the transfer of shares, which was long in the making, was made final about a month ago. However, Government made no official announcement and there is no word on what was the price settled at. The company had an asking price of some $45M, but government was optimistic that, through negotiations, a more convenient price could have been arrived at.
The additional shares acquired by government represent 10 per cent of the shares in BBCI.
Last year, government announced that it wanted badly to “ease the pressures and burdens of the people who use the bridge.”
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo told the media that government wanted to place itself in a better negotiating position, by attracting shares so that it could have a stronger voice in the governing body of this company.
The Prime Minister said, “We are trying to ensure that our voice is not a feeble one and that the dominant partners in the Berbice Bridge would recognize that we are serious.”
Recently, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said government remained committed to providing significant financial relief for those persons traversing the Berbice Bridge and in order to guarantee low fares, government would have to gain majority control of the company.
Government had also hoped to engage with the other stakeholders about selling their shares in order to influence the decision to reduce the bridge tolls since the Bridge Company was initially refusing to lower them.
But after intense negotiations, government finally brokered an agreement with the company to reduce the tolls, which took effect this year.
The toll on passenger cars and minibuses was reduced from $2,200 to $1,900, while there was a 10 per cent reduction for the other classes of vehicles.
Government is also providing subsidies to the river taxis, which were introduced after the BBCI maintained that it was not reducing its tolls.
The New Guyana Pharmaceutical Company (GPC) which is owned by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, has 80M in share stock in the Berbice Bridge.
The other principal investors in the bridge include the National Insurance Scheme with an initial 80M worth in shares, Secure International Finance Company with 80M shares, Hand in Hand Motor & Life Insurance Company which holds 40M shares and the Colonial Life Insurance Company with 80M shares. DDL’s 40M shares now belong to government.
The remaining and overwhelming majority of shares held in the Berbice Bridge Company belongs to government through the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL) and stands at $950M in preference shares. This has since been sold to NIS, bringing its share stake to in excess of one billion.
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