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Emera deal to provide boost for GB economy

The $82 million purchase of 55.4 percent of direct and indirect interest in Grand Bahama Power Company Limited(GBPC)by Emera has the chamber head for the island optimistic that the recent transaction will provide a much needed boost to Grand Bahama’s economy.President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Peter Turnquest toldGuardian Businessyesterday he is optimistic about Emera’s future business plans, including the proposed construction of a new distilled plant that will create a number of jobs for Bahamians.

“We’re excited about the distilled plant they have announced they wil construct in the new year, creating jobs in construction which are very much needed in Grand Bahama,”Turnquest said.”We look forward to the consistency in the electrical supply that it will bring along with the efficiencies with the new generator that they promise it will also deliver.”

In 2008 Emera acquired a 25 percent interest in GBPC through its acquisition of 50 percent of the shares of BISX-listed company ICD Utilities Limited(ICDU), which holds 50 percent of the shares of the island’s power company. The recent transaction makes Emera the majority shareholder of ICDU.

President and CEO of Emera Chris Huskilson said the company is looking foward to raising the bar of utility services in Grand Bahama.

“Emera’s Caribbean presence is strengthened by our majority ownership in Grand Bahama Power,”Huskilson said.”We look forward to serving the customers on Grand Bahama and bringing the efficiency and reliability of the electrical system on the island up to Emera standards.”Turnquest also hoping the increased footprint of Emera on the island will pave the road for recovery in Grand Bahama, not only providing a spark to the local landscape but drawing interest from more foreign investors.”Hopefully this signals the start of the turnaround of the Grand Bahamian economy and the loss of jobs, and hopefully investors will see it as a real confidence boost and it will spur them to have renewed look at Grand Bahama and its outlook both from a domestic and foreign point of view,”he said.”I think that the government has mentioned some of the developments they expect for the island and we look forward to better things to come in 2011.”Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham provided brief comments on the recent Emera deal at a Rotary Club luncheon yesterday at the British Colonial Hilton, outlining the plans the electrical company has going forward.”There are a number of things that are likely to come about in Grand Bahama, one of which is today(yesterday)they would have announced the purchase by Emera, a Canadian electrical company, of the electrical company in Freeport,”Ingraham said.”They would have announced the construction of a new power station at a cost of$35 million and the employment of 180 or 200 people to do the construction.”The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and through its investment in GBPC and ICDU, Emera will appoint a number of new Bahamian members to the GBPC board of directors. Emera will finance the acquisition through existing credit facilities. GBPC is the only utility operator on Grand Bahama Island, serving 19,000 customers.

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