Hurst: Sir Richard Branson ‘interested’ in investing in LIAT

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Hurst: Sir Richard Branson ‘interested’ in investing in LIAT

Unread post by bimjim » Fri May 03, 2019

https://antiguaobserver.com/hurst-sir-r ... g-in-liat/

Hurst: Sir Richard Branson ‘interested’ in investing in LIAT
May 3, 2019

The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda has indicated that the British entrepreneurial magnate, Sir Richard Branson – of Virgin Atlantic fame – has shown interest in investing in the financially challenged regional airline, LIAT.

This was according the Chief of Staff within the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst, who made the revelation yesterday at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing.

According to Hurst, discussions held with the British capitalist involved growing the struggling airline out of its situation, with the hope that it would be- come a profit-making enterprise.

According to the Cabinet notes, LIAT would have to enlarge its fleet and add other aircraft types. Hurst said, “The entrepreneur has proposed investing several million dollars. He would wet lease several aircraft, jets, and they would fly from Fort Lauderdale to Jamaica, Haiti and down into Antigua and Barbados.

“The whole idea is to enlarge LIAT, rather than collapse LIAT or making it a smaller entity.” This investment, Hurst said, would allow the air carrier to fly to destinations out- side of the region.

“He [Sir Richard Branson] is not going to plow his resources into a smaller LIAT that would not be able to achieve a profitable status. There just is not [enough] passengers and other kinds of possibilities to make LIAT profitable within the Caribbean,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government of Antigua and Barbuda is continuing its discussions with Barbados to purchase that country’s shares in the regional carrier. Hurst said Barbados has indicated that its shares in LIAT have been a burden on the country, which is currently going through an International Monetary Fund (IMF) restructuring program.

“We have also made a bid to purchase all the shares from Barbados because the Prime Minister of Barbados [Mia Mottley] has indicated they are burdened,” he said, adding that the value of Barbados’ shares in LIAT has not yet been determined.

This development followed the meeting of LIAT’s shareholder governments in Antigua on Tuesday, where it was agreed that a proposal by Prime Minister Gaston Browne regarding the future direction of the airline would be examined.

As the Barbadian Prime Minister was not present at the meeting, the Barbadian representative said upon his return he would raise with Prime Minister Mottley the issue of Antigua and Barbuda’s intent to purchase all of Barbados’ shares. A response is expected shortly.

During the meeting, Browne presented the proposal which is expected to be put into writing within a week. That proposal, according to reports, involves – among other things – a way to finance the keeping of the three planes owned by the Caribbean Development Bank.

There was a suggestion that the planes be sold as part of the downsizing of LIAT and there is consensus among some shareholders that this is a matter which merits very serious consideration. However, Hurst reiterated that the government would not allow any downsizing of LIAT to take place.

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Re: Hurst: Sir Richard Branson ‘interested’ in investing in LIAT

Unread post by bimjim » Sat May 04, 2019

https://news784.com/caribbean/richard-b ... t-in-liat/

Richard Branson Shows Interest in LIAT
May 2, 2019

British Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has been identified as a potential investor for cash strapped regional airline LIAT.

Exactly how discussions were initiated remain unclear, but it could mean good news for the Antigua based regional carrier that is possibly experiencing the worst financial crisis of its existence.

Though it is being described as merely interest being shown by Branson, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst spoke of a plan that is being developed.

The extended route is a plan that was proposed by LIAT several years ago when it began considering purchasing jets, with the intention to expand its network to include the United States, Jamaica and Haiti.

Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Records fame also owns Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Galactic. He owns Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands and his business empire also includes Virgin Healthcare and Hotels and from 2020, he will join the cruise industry with Virgin Voyages.

If secured, the British Billionaire’s investment will mean a major shift in how the airline currently conducts business.

The news is being viewed as a solution to the LIAT crisis, with the hope that a public/private partnership can be forged.

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