ST JOHN’S, Antigua — Prime Minister Gaston Browne has invited the competent authorities of the Bank of Nova Scotia to a meeting by January 7, 2019, to discuss the purchase of the bank’s branch holdings in Antigua and Barbuda.
The invitation is contained in a letter sent on December 13 by the prime minister to Scotiabank’s branch manager in Antigua, Suzan Snaggs-Wilson.
In the letter, the prime minister said that the proposed meeting would be between high officials of the Bank of Nova Scotia and representatives of a “consortium comprising the government, local banks and other qualified and competent local institutions” desirous of purchasing Scotiabank’s branch holdings in Antigua.
He said, “The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss the parameters of the sale which would not necessarily exclude participation by any regional entity approved by the government and the regulatory authorities”.
Explaining the government’s position to the Bank of Nova Scotia, Browne stated: “The government of Antigua and Barbuda makes it clear that its primary concern is to build resilience in the local banking sector and reduce its vulnerability to de-risking strategies employed by foreign owned entities that weaken our national capacity to participate in the global financial and trading system effectively.”
He added, “It is important that the ownership of the vital banking sector be re-balanced to improve the strength and capacity of local shareholding. This in no way affects foreign-owned banks that now operate in Antigua and Barbuda.”
The prime minister also made clear that “the Bank of Nova Scotia’s decision to sell its branch holdings provides the opportunity for strengthening the local banking sector, improving their members’ resilience, and enhancing the nation’s utilization of its own wealth, including keeping profits at home for re-investment in economic growth and social development”.
The prime minister copied his letter to the chairman of the board of Republic Financial Holdings Limited of Trinidad and Tobago, with which, he said, his government understands Bank of Nova Scotia had discussed arrangements for the possible sale of its Antigua branch holdings, subject to all legal and regulatory requirements.