February 20, 2024

Labour r­elations expert warns of fallout from attempts to block Scotia sale

By Antigua Observer

A long serving CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Employers Federation said there would be serious consequences if the Government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to block the sale of the local assets and operations of Scotiabank to Republic Financial Holdings (RFH) of Trinidad and Tobago.

Henderson Bass. (Photo by Theresa Gordon/OBSERVER Media)

Labour Relations Consultant Henderson Bass was the latest to add his voice to the escalating issue, saying the country could lose a lot if the government does not relent.

“We can lose the bank and its services and the employees will be on the breadline,” Bass said yesterday on OBSERVER media’s Big Issues.

 “People who are thinking of doing business in Antigua could also think twice. Those are the two things than can result.” 

Scotiabank plans to sell its operations in nine Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda to RFH for US $123 million.

However, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is also the Finance Minister, is refusing to grant a vesting order to facilitate the sale, and has further threatened to resort to the compulsory acquisition of Scotiabank local business if necessary. 

Aside from Prime Minister Browne, the government of Guyana has also raised objections to the proposed sale.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has reported that the review of the application for the sale of some of Scotiabank’s Caribbean operations to Republic Bank is at an advanced stage and Republic is so far complying with all the ECCB’s requests for data relating to the transaction.

Republic Financial Holdings is seeking regulatory approval from the ECCB to acquire Scotia’s operations and businesses in the Eastern Caribbean.

At a recent ECCU Monetary Council meeting, ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine told WINN FM in St. Kitts and Nevis that the Central Bank is now fully engaged in the review of the application made by Republic Bank to acquire Scotiabank’s operations in the sub-region.

“We’ve asked for significant data and information from Republic. We’ve gotten everything we’ve asked for at this point in time. We obviously reserve the right to ask for more as we go, but based on what we’ve asked for we now have a full data in front of us and we are examining that.

“As we indicated before, the application process also includes us engaging our peer regulators; that is to say, for example, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, the Bank of Guyana and others; we started to do that. In fact, only last week [we] met the regulators met in Aruba … and so we are proceeding,” he said.

According WINN FM, Antoine was unable to give an anticipated completion date for the review, but pointed out that as regulators, they are operating within a legal timeframe.

For more on this story go to: https://antiguaobserver.com/labour-r%C2%ADelations-expert-warns-of-fallout-from-attempts-to-block-scotia-sale/

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