By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Advisers are "still awaiting" the Government's final go-ahead on the $70 million sell-of its majority interest in the Aliv mobile operator, with the terms unlikely to change.
Gowon Bowe, one of those working on the placement, told Tribune Business that "everything is lined up" for the disposal of the Government's 100 per cent interest in HoldingCo, the entity that holds a 51.75 per cent equity stake in Aliv.
He indicated that a decision was likely imminent, given that the Government had summoned HoldingCo's directors to a meeting that was likely to be held next week.
"We still haven't got any final word from them," Mr Bowe told Tribune Business of the Minnis administration. "They have called for a meeting with the Board of Directors from HoldingCo, and believe this is scheduled for next week.
"So we're hoping that at some point we will get a final decision. Everything is lined up with the professional advisers and investors provided the position remains the same; that this was a transitory arrangement and the goal is to dispose of all of or the majority of it. All indications are that we are proceeding on the same basis."
The Minnis administration could realise a much-needed revenue windfall, given its precarious fiscal position, should HoldingCo's full $70 million private placement be taken up by Bahamian institutional investors.
It is likely one of the quickest ways for the Government to generate a significant one-off cash flow, and aid its bid to keep the 2017-2018 fiscal deficit below the $323 million outlined in the Budget.
"That's one that will be a positive contributor," Mr Bowe told Tribune Business yesterday, "and we have to look at other areas to ensure the Government is maximising its return on assets they have.
"Identify tax-generating assets to ensure we maximise revenues, and restrict them to previous spending patterns."
The HoldingCo investment was effectively a 'bridge financing' arrangement by the Government to ensure that Aliv's network roll-out was not delayed by the wait for private investors to come in.
Its exit was always planned, apart from any minority interest the Government may want to retain as an income asset.
The $70 million potentially generated by selling-off HoldingCo would also enable the Government to, finally, realise the proceeds from the $62.5 million spectrum license paid by Cable Bahamas. Those funds were immediately injected back into Aliv as HoldingCo's share of its infrastructure build-out costs.
HoldingCo holds the majority 51.75 per cent equity stake in Aliv, with Cable Bahamas owning the remaining 48.25 per cent. The BISX-listed communications provider has Board and management control.
HoldingCo was initially conceived as a vehicle that would pool Bahamian capital for investment in a variety of infrastructure-based developments throughout the country, with Aliv designed to be just its first holding.
The institutions eyed as its first investors have been targeted because they represent the broadest possible spectrum of Bahamian ownership through their members. They are pension funds, credit unions and mutual funds.