FIJI GOVERNMENT SELLS NEWSPAPER TO LOWEST BIDDER

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SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Mar. 9) - The Fiji government has sold some of its shares in the Daily Post newspaper to the lowest bidder in a recent tender.

The shares deliver control of the Post to Australia-based Belmont Trading Company Limited.

Ministry of Public Enterprise and Public Sector Reform Pramesh Chand confirmed that BTCL was the lower bidder among strong contenders from the local market for the government-owned newspaper.

Chand said the company met the specific criteria outlined in the tender for shares and that "the bid was a competitive one".

He said the Government thought that it was only natural that the tender was awarded to a company that already had interests in the Daily Post.

"BCTL has bought 49 per cent and it was only fitting that the tender was awarded to the company that already had interests in the company. By that virtue they are already in the company," he said.

Chand said as a start BCTL would be offered 5 per cent of the Government’s shares to give it a controlling interest in Daily Post. As listed in the Government’s information pack on its proposed sale of its Post shares, Belmont Trading held 49.4 per cent and gains another 5 per cent with the purchase of the Government’s shares.

"Government and BCTL are to enter into an agreement to give BCTL the opportunity to purchase the balance of the Government’s shares after a period of five years," said Chand. "The Ministry of Public Enterprise and Public Sector Reform will negotiate with BCTL that there be no structural redundancies for Daily Post workers when it takes control for as long as possible with a constituted grace period of six months if redundancy was absolutely necessary."

Chand said the Government was of the view that there would be an easy transition if an existing shareholder was awarded the tender.

March 10, 2005

FijiSUN: http://www.sun.com.fj/

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