The public will soon have the opportunity to take ownership of major national assets with the release of the prospectus for the sale of West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) shares in early December.
Managing Director of WIOC, Gregory Georges, told PointeXpress recently that the December release of the prospectus for the sale of ten percent of the shares the Government of Antigua and Barbuda owns in the company.
Georges’ confirmation followed Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s recent announcement that a limited percentage of the government’s shares in WIOC will soon be made available for purchase to citizens and residents of Antigua and Barbuda only through the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange (ECSE).
On Sunday, the prime minister told PointeXpress that the restriction which allows only people in Antigua and Barbuda to purchase is designed to ensure that ‘people of Antigua and Barbuda get exclusive rights to capitalise on the investment opportunity at the discounted price being offered via a stock split’. These restrictions include a limit on how many shares an investor can purchase.
WIOC’s managing director, Georges provided further clarity on the stock split explaining that although the current share value is in excess of EC$600.00, the government has agreed to the stock split of $60.00 for the limited investment offering.
“The 10 to 1 stock split makes the divestment more accessible to a wider base of Antiguans and Barbudans and presents a more palatable offering given the current market conditions.”
He also disclosed that the stock split is intended to accelerate and promote the development of the domestic financial market.
“The offerings should boost investor sentiment in challenging times and the attractive pricing should increase the stock market activity in the medium to long term,” said Georges.
He continued that this offering will yield direct revenue for the government of Antigua and Barbuda as its shares are up for sale. Georges went on to say that “the company value and market capitalisation would remain the same when the sale is completed”.
According to the WIOC managing director, the shares will come to the market in mid to late 2021 with its own IPO to attract fresh capital for additional capital investment as the entity continues its expansion plans.
Prime Minister Browne added that his Cabinet is focused on ensuring that a wide cross section of people are able to afford the shares.
The sale is viewed as an important investment vehicle to encourage the pursuit of greater wealth creation opportunities for ‘ordinary people’ who are not interested in entrepreneurship. Browne also disclosed that discussions are ongoing with another WIOC major shareholder, Fancy Bridge, to add 10 % of its holdings to the divestment pool.
When asked for a shareholder’s perspective on the IPO plans for WIOC, Browne said the offering will be at the share value which is likely to be higher than the current value given the continued growth of the company even in these challenging times.
The restrictions which are being applied to the initial shares purchase will also likely be removed..
The process, which includes the preparation of the prospectus and offerings, is being handled by a regional brokerage firm as there is no brokerage firm in Antigua and Barbuda.
Individuals will be able to get further details from the prospectus which will be available in early December.