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Belize agrees to pay USD81.2m compensation for BTL’s 2009 nationalisation

17 Sep 2015

The Belizean government has agreed to settle an ongoing dispute with a group of companies affiliated with British businessman and politician Lord Michael Ashcroft in regards to the 2009 re-nationalisation of incumbent telecoms operator Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL), 7 News Belize reports. Under the deal – which was signed last week between Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Michael Ashcroft – the government agreed to pay Ashcroft’s affiliates USD32.5 million in compensation for the August 2009 nationalisation of BTL (equivalent to BZD1.44 [USD0.72] per share). The exact level of compensation is still subject to arbitration proceedings in London however and could multiply in favour of the ousted British shareholders (which seek compensation to the tune of BZD10 per share), the news agency claims.

In addition, the state must pay USD48.7 million to Ashcroft’s British Caribbean Bank (BCB) in regards to a disputed loan of USD22.5 million, which was taken out in 2007 by BTL’s previous board of directors. PM Barrow was cited as saying: ‘In order to settle this matter – to have the former shareholders acknowledge once and for all that BTL is now and forever the property of the government and people of Belize – we will pay the award that the tribunal issued in the BCB matter. In others words, we will no longer seek to skip and jump and dodge and run and postpone the inevitable for another day while interest continues to run. But the USD48 million will not be paid by us ultimately. It will be paid by us in the first instance as a sort of a bridge [loan], but it is the liability of BTL and BTL will then have to repay the government of Belize’.

Belize, Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL, Digi)

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