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PNG Business News - August 16, 2021

Water And Electricity Outages Wreak Havoc On Operations: Chamber

According to the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, disruptions in water and electricity delivery cost firms a substantial amount of money, particularly in the industrial sector. Because to the continuous power and water supply issues in Port Moresby, Chamber president Rio Fiocco stated that operating expenses were rising, particularly for electricity because they had to pay more for generator fuel. Manufacturing businesses, he added, were the worst impacted. “In terms of power, it has been widely reported the government’s outstanding dues to PNG Power Ltd. “It needs to pay its debts,” Fiocco said. Electricity supply issues, according to the ANZ Bank, are hurting companies and limiting development. Mark Baker, the company's managing director, explained that it was "primarily a cost problem for us and many other firms." “We cannot afford to have interruptions to power supply,” Baker said. “(We) need to have to reliable generators and UPS systems to maintain operations at all times. “Investment in modernising the power system is critical. “Without reliable and cheap power, business growth will be constrained, whether an SME or a larger company.” According to Brian Bell Group, about K300,000 was spent on gasoline last year as a result of the outages. Although the firm had a robust power backup strategy in place, power interruptions disrupted commerce and raised expenses, particularly for refuelling and maintaining generators. Cameron Mackellar, the company's CEO, stated that power outages were growing more often, which was a negative thing. “We spent more than K300,000 in generator fuel across the group in 2020. And you need a generator when you don’t have power,” he said. “This was nearly twice as much as we spent in 2019. “Servicing and maintaining or replacing generators is an added cost as well.”   Reference: Luma, Dale. The National (11 August 2021). “Water, power supply disruptions affecting operations: Chamber.”

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PNG Business News - August 16, 2021

Businesses Awaiting Government Action

Photo Credit: Oil Search Businesses are waiting for clear answers from the government on when resource projects like Papua LNG and the Pasca A offshore oil and gas project will be operational. According to Rio Fiocco, head of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, there had been rumors of agreements being signed or close to being completed, but companies required a firm decision on when construction would begin. He claimed the projects will boost business confidence, particularly Papua LNG, by creating spinoff enterprises for locals, in accordance with the government's national content goal. According to industry sources, the government recently stated during a PNG Chamber and Mining workshop last week that it intended to make announcements on pending projects by September 16. During the workshop, Secretary of the Department of Petroleum and Energy David Manau stated that an agreement for the Pasca A project in Gulf was expected in the following two weeks. “For Pasca, we have completed all the negotiations and the agreements are in its draft stage,” he said. “As of last night (last Tuesday), in a briefing with the Prime Minister James Marape, the State negotiating team (SNT) was given until next week (this week) to sit with Twinza and complete the gas agreement for a possible NEC (National Executive Council) announcement the following week.” In February, the state and the project's developer, Total E&P PNG Ltd, inked a fiscal stability agreement for the Papua LNG project. The front-end-engineering-design (Feed) stage of the US$12 billion (K41.28 billion) Papua LNG project is expected to take two years, with the actual construction taking four years. The economic advantages of the projects, according to managing director Jean-Marc Noiray, will be realized following the building period. “We need to embark on the whole stabilisation of the project which we call the pre-Feed,” Noiray said. “We are working hard on that. “The Feed itself will last between 15 and 18 months, from the moment we reach the final investment decision. “And from the final investment decision to first gas, we have about four years of construction. It’s a long journey before we get to the first gas and the first revenues.”   Reference: Luma, Dale. The National (10 August 2021). “Businesses waiting on Govt”.

Business

PNG Business News - August 13, 2021

ABG outlines plans on trade and investment in Bougainville

Bougainville has the potential to become a strong local economy that is recognized nationally and internationally.  ABG Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Patrick Nisira said this when speaking on Trade and Investment in Bougainville during the parliament session this week in Buka. Minister Nisira had recently announced that ‘Bougainville is Open for Business’ where he also explained the process involved for interested investors to follow when thinking of investing in Bougainville. The Bougainville Inward Investment Board will be the authorized body to analyze all foreign investment applications into Bougainville. “The Bougainville Inward Investment Board has been in operation since June and has had 2 meetings thus far, and has been processing more than 30 applications of interested investors.”  “This is the mechanism that the ABG and the Department of Commerce, Trade and Industry will administer to manage foreign and local businesses authorized to set up in Bougainville,” he explained. Nisira assured the House that any companies or investors who do not meet the required standards under the ABG’s Inward Investment Act will be disqualified and ordered to leave Bougainville. He said that all past practices of businesses being established but fail to progress, will not be repeated under his watch. “This government and my office will not allow such things or repetition to happen again as we are putting stringent measures to ensure that the government support and funding is not abused,” he emphasized. ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama gave his support for this saying that while Bougainville has enormous potential for economic growth, it needs credible investors to help develop its resources. “I want to assure the people that my government will not politicize any investment on Bougainville but we will let the Bougainville Inward Investment Act of 2018 and the responsible agencies to govern and regulate all foreign investments in Bougainville,” Toroama said.

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PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

European Union Gives PNG K21 Million to Help with Anti-corruption Programme

Anti-corruption efforts in Papua New Guinea have received a big boost from the European Union, which will invest €5.4 million (about K21.7 million) over three years. Dirk Wagener, a national representative for the United Nations Growth Programme (UNDP), said during the inauguration of an anti-corruption program in Port Moresby that corruption has hampered Papua New Guinea's development. “The European Union will provide €5.4 million to this project, in addition to the funding which will be made directly to the government of Papua New Guinea to implement key components of the government’s anti-corruption strategy and plan of action,” he said. According to Wagener, the plan recognizes that fighting corruption is an essential prerequisite for national growth and is critical to ensuring that people receive the services and commodities that they are entitled to. “It is, simply put, a precondition for achieving Papua New Guinea’s national development vision and aspirations.” Corruption, he warned, would impede PNG's accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals if it was not tackled. Wagener stated that the initiative would have four objectives aimed at strengthening local capacities to successfully combat corruption and that both government and non-governmental organizations would be involved: The first outcome is intended to aid in the execution and oversight of the national government's strategic plan of action. The second outcome will be the creation of a fully operating Independent Commission Against Corruption. The third outcome will concentrate on bolstering current anti-corruption investigation and prosecution agencies. The fourth outcome acknowledges the importance of the public and civil society in combating corruption. “The project will work with the Royal PNG Constabulary’s national and provincial anti-corruption and fraud units and the office of the Public Solicitor,” Wagener said. Transparency International PNG commended Papua New Guinea on the passage of the Organic Law Establishing an Independent Commission Against Corruption in November 2020. “The campaign against corruption must be placed at the top of the agendas of our societies. Unless corruption is checked, it will poison our ways of life and corrode standards,” said chairman Peter Aitsi. “At TIPNG, we welcome this law and the eventual establishment of the ICAC in our country. It is our hope that this body will further empower people in PNG to take action against corruption and work to protect the integrity of the people, society and nation of Papua New Guinea.” He stated that the ICAC's key functions, once formed, would be to: Prevent and minimize corrupt conduct, conduct research, suggest systems, methods, practices, and policies; Investigate and prosecute corrupt conduct, and Arrest a person who has engaged in corrupt behavior.   Reference: Gwangilo, Phoebe. Asia Pacific Report (9 August 2021). “European Union gives PNG K21m boost for anti-corruption project”.

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PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

Treasurer Applauds IMF Decision on COVID Aid

Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey applauded the International Monetary Fund's declaration that it will expand aid options for nations affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. These new alternatives will offer nations with money in the Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF has also stated that it is considering adding to its concessional loan facility and maybe establishing a new facility to assist nations in these difficult economic times. “The Marape Government fully supports the recent announcement by the IMF, and would want to encourage the other members of the IMF to continue discussions about positive suggestions like supplementation of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) and the proposed Resilience and Sustainability Trust,” Ling-Stuckey said. “Our engagement with the IMF has yielded continued dividends, through the support that has come from bilateral partners to the support directly from the IMF in 2020.  “We hope we can continue this engagement on a long-term basis as we strengthen even further our relationships with the international community.”   Reference: Loop (8 August 2021). “Treasurer hails IMF announcement”.

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PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

Recent Mining Transparency Report is More In-depth: Aklan

According to Lucas Alkan, the chairman of the PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) national secretariat, the new report is more thorough than previous ones. It mirrored data gaps and suggestions in earlier studies, according to Alkan, in order to enhance openness and accountability in the mining and petroleum industries. The report's release was announced by the PNGEITI Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG). “Despite the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019 and disruptions to activities in 2020, the MSG is satisfied that the 2019 EITI Report has significantly improved in addressing information and data gaps identified in previous reports, including the corrective measures recommended from PNG’s first validation assessment against the 2016 report,” Alkan said. Richard Kassman, senior vice-president of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, said the chamber welcomed extractive industry operating projects' cooperation in providing information for the 2019 report. “We are pleased that the current report provides a more comprehensive information from industry and government of the revenue derived from the resource projects and also noting the enormous voluntary contribution in community infrastructure projects and flow-on socio-economic benefits such as community health and education programmes as well as spin-off business opportunities,” he said. Highlights include: The extractive industry has contributed more than k6 billion; Contributed 28% of the government's income; Responsible for 28% of PNG's GDP – this does not include the multiplier impact of contributions from all of the industry's contractors and subcontractors;and, Contributed approximately K450 million in cash and in-kind social expenditures, the most of which were voluntary, to infrastructure projects, community health and education programs, and spin-off business possibilities that benefited SMEs (small-medium enterprises). “I want to assure the public that this is a work in progress that the industry, together with the regulators and reporting entities of government remain committed to minimise this.”   Reference: The National (2 August 2021). “Latest mining transparency report more comprehensive: Official”.

Business

PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

Wong Named Interim CEO Of Paradise Foods

Ben Wong has been named temporary chief executive officer of Paradise Foods Ltd for a three-month period. Wong had had senior leadership positions in international corporations and the fast-moving consumer goods industry before joining the company as the group chief financial officer in September 2019, according to Chairman Anthony Smaré. James Rice, the previous chief executive officer, has returned to the United States. “Ben has been CFO for Paradise Foods for the last two years and had filled in for James previously for short stints. “Ben will continue to hold the role of Group CFO and act as interim Group CEO for this period,” Smare said. “Ben’s key focus as acting CEO will be to ensure that the executive leadership team and the Paradise group as a whole maintains a business-as-usual approach for the next few months to achieve the Group’s targets for 2021 as we continue to build upon Paradise’s core strengths, strong brands and excellent reputation in PNG as a quality food and beverage manufacturer.” Wong expressed his delight in assisting the firm and its employees at this time of change, saying, "I look forward to continuing our company's progress together as a family."   Reference: The National (4 August 2021). “Paradise Foods appoint Wong as interim CEO”. 

Business

PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

PNGEITI to Reach Three Additional Industries

The PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) will extend to include three additional non-renewable industries, according to Chris Tabel, deputy head of the national secretariat. The forestry, agricultural, and fisheries industries, according to Tabel, sought to imitate the EITI model. He said that the EITI policy, which is presently undergoing public comment, includes a provision to cover these industries. “This particular initiative was created solely for the purpose of creating transparency in the extractives of the mineral, oil and gas sector,” he said. “But, we’ve also captured inside the EITI policy on extractives a certain provision that would allow for expansion into the other three sectors. “This would allow us to expand to forestry, agriculture and fisheries with the model itself.” Tabel stated that this was similar to some nations across the world implementing the EITI in the non-renewable sector. He stated that it was based on the economy and the factors that influenced it. “So, in terms of having that guidance, we’ve captured inside to move into these other sectors,” he said. “In this particular consultations, we’ve got a lot of feedback in terms of that expansion and we noted them and we will now take that back and in terms of formulating the finalised bill.”   Reference: The National (4 August 2021). “Agency expanding reach to three sectors”.

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PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

PNG's Extractive Industry Listed Among 35 Developing Countries

Photo Credit: PNGEITI / Lucas Alkan Among the 35 nations on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative list, the Papua New Guinea Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has made significant progress. The EITI website listed 55 countries incorporated into individual countries at various stages of implementing the EITI Standard; nine countries have made satisfactory progress, 35 (including PNG) have made meaningful progress, and three countries have made insufficient progress or have been suspended due to political instability or missing the reporting deadline. According to Lucas Alkan, the head of the PNGEITI, gathering data for a report is not an easy task, but despite the difficulties, the PNGEITI has since issued its yearly report to the worldwide organization and has maintained its progress on the EITI list. The Extractive Industries Openness Initiative was founded in 2002 to help nations improve transparency and accountability along the value chain of oil, gas, and mineral resources. The EITI is a global organization that brings together sponsored nations, civil society groups, and businesses to create a transparency framework. PNG applied for candidacy in 2013 and was accepted as an EITI implementing country in 2014. Since then, the country has published annual reports for the years 2013 to 2018. The 2018 report aimed to improve the completeness of the data collected, while the 2019 report aims to meet all validation recommendations from its validators, including additional disclosures on sub-national payments, improved presentation, and meeting all validation recommendations.  PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum President Richard Kassman stated that producing a report every year is critical to the country's EITI candidacy. He stated that if PNG fails to provide a report, it may be suspended for missing the reporting date and that he is happy with PNGEITI's annual reports.   Reference: Kamus, Maxine. Post-Courier (3 August 2021). “PNG Extractive Industry Among 35 Progressing Countries: List”.

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PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

PNG Ports Corp Redevelopment Expected to Cost K1.1 Billion

PNG Ports Corporation is redeveloping and investing in its ports in the future as part of its 30-year master plan. Rodney Begley, the chief operating officer of the PNG Ports Corporation, said the company completed a 30-year master plan 18 months ago that included evaluations of every port in the country. “We did an economical assessment, environmental assessments, and constructional assessments. “This is a general everyday roster on the master plan. This document now manifests PNG Ports as we look forward to the next 30 years. “We are working with the Australian government in port redevelopment and investments.” He stated that ports in Daru, Kimbe, Madang, Kavieng, Lae Tidal Basin, Rabaul, Vanimo, and Lorengau are being considered for redevelopment. Over the next five years, this will spend K1.1 billion ($AU400) in reconstruction across the country. “Over the last 12 months, I’ve come to recognize the importance of the Highlands region as the food basket of the country. “We at PNG Ports have visions to develop three inland trade hubs to support the Highlands. “This idea is that we replicate a traditional ocean seaport and we place it at the base of the Highlands in Goroka and maybe in Mt Hagen,” said Mr. Begley. He explained that the goal is to make it easier for people to transport fruits and vegetables, as well as other items, up and down the highway by utilizing these three stations. “That’s a visionary idea and something that they are talking to the government about. “This is the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility (AIFFP) funding of the Pacific. “In November last year, I wrote to the Australian government and they granted us K26m, and this year in January I wrote to Australian government and we are now in negotiations to secure and finalize $AU400 or K1.1 billion.” PNG Ports will invest money through a mixed financial package, with 80 percent being soft loans and 20 percent being grants, according to Begley. “All of this is underpinned by the PNG Ports 30-year master plan. Those eight ports will be the fundamental focus of this spending,” he added.   Reference: Post-Courier (2 August 2021). “Ports Redevelopment, Investments To Cost K1.1 Billion”.

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PNG Business News - August 09, 2021

ICCC Rejects Link PNG Request to buy PNG Air Shares

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) has rejected Link PNG's proposal to purchase shares in PNG Air Ltd for the second time. PNG Air Ltd had asked Link PNG Ltd to buy 40% of the company from the National Superannuation Fund and 9% from other shareholders. Last week, the consumer and competition watchdog said that after completing its review of the proposed purchase, it was likely to have a significant impact on competition in the relevant areas. According to their analysis, the purchase would have possible public costs that would outweigh the anticipated public benefits. Link PNG stated in its application that PNG Air was not profitable and that, as a result of the Covid-19's influence on the aviation sector, PNG Air would most likely quit the market. Link PNG, an Air Niugini subsidiary, has claimed that the planned share acquisition must be approved in order to retain present service levels, competitiveness, and the employment of current PNG Air personnel. According to ICCC Commissioner Paulus Ain, the watchdog noticed that PNG Air had been losing money, but that the losses had been minimized as the airline increased its market share and revenues. “There was no evidence of any significant rationalization or restructure carried out by PNG Air to suggest that such measures have already been exhausted, such that continued losses are a sign of a failing firm,” Ain said. “No application provided by PNG Air or the applicant to satisfy the ICCC that PNG Air has done all it could to make it a profitable entity. “For example, there has not been any cost-cutting in 2019 and 2020 have tripled from 2017 and 2018 figures. “Whilst the financials for 2019 and 2020 are unaudited and much weight are not placed on them, the ICCC considers that the costs should relatively remain the same because, from the information available, there has not been any major changes in the administrative aspect that would contribute to such large increase. “The ICCC also understands that besides Link PNG, there are other parties that have shown an interest to acquire the Nasfund shares.”   Reference: The National (2 August 2021). “ICCC rejects Link PNG’s bid to acquire shares in PNG Air”.

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PNG Business News - August 06, 2021

Make all Transactions in Mining and Petroleum Value Chain Transparent: Ginson Saonu

Morobe Governor and Deputy leader of the ruling Pangu Pati Hon Ginson Saonu today opened the PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Commission Bill Momase Regional consultation in Lae and gave his backing for the establishment of the Extractive Industries Transparency Commission. He welcomed a State Technical working group comprising the Department of Petroleum, Department of National Planning, Constitutional and Law Reform Commission, Department of Treasury and staff from the PNGEITI National Secretariat to administer the consultation. The Governor underscored the importance of reflecting the national goals and directives enshrined in the Constitution in making policies and laws that govern the resource sector. The Momase consultation is the second leg of a series of regional consultation to gauge views from stakeholders to shape a bill that is reflective of views from wider community for better implementation of EITI Global Standard in Papa New Guinea. Consultation workshop starts today and ends on Thursday this week. The implementation of EITI Principles and the Standard in Papua New Guinea rides on a National Executive Council Decision administered by as a secretariat under the Department of Treasury. The proposed law aims to establish the PNGEITI National Secretariat as a commission to provide policy recommendations to the Government and more so provide a clear description of activities taking place in the PNG mining and petroleum industry. Deputy Head of PNGEITI National Secretariat Christopher Tabel thanked the Governor for opening the workshop which is the second of regional consultation rolled out and will continue to two other regions. “The PNGEITI is a state initiative and it’s only fitting and delightful moment for the state working group on the legislation and the instrumentalities involved in the process to have a Governor of existing and upcoming resource projects of huge magnitude. “PNGEITI has been in operation since 2014 effected by a NEC decision and now we are moving into the next step in anchoring this extractive industry reporting process into PNG’s legal and administrative system. PNGEITI has published 7 country reports detailing activities taking placing in the PNG mining and petroleum space. “We thank the Morobe Governor and his hardworking administration team for the support and the welcome that we have received from Morobe. We look forward to a meaningful consultation in the coming days with all stakeholders from Government, Civil Society organizations and resource companies,’’ Mr. Tabel said.

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PNG Business News - August 06, 2021

Resident Indonesian Ambassador to PNG H.E Andrias Supandi pays courtesy call on Prime Minister Marape

Indonesia border at Wutung Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades Indonesian Ambassador to PNG, H.E Andrias Supandi has paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister James Marape recently during which they discussed new and ongoing issues of mutual concern. The leaders discussed cooperation on COVID-19 and the reopening of the border, among other things. Both agreed to ensure the border was properly policed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 along the border areas. Ambassador Supandi used the opportunity to propose for the two countries to enter into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to facilitate trade and commerce given that there is potential as demonstrated in the success of vanilla trade. He said this could be better coordinated and managed through such an arrangement as a Free Trade Agreement. Ambassador Supandi also informed Prime Minister Marape that Indonesia has already ratified the Border & Defence Cooperation Agreement and Land Border Transport Agreement and was awaiting PNG to do the same. He said these agreements would pave the way for a more robust bilateral tie between the two countries. On West Papua, Indonesia is very much appreciative of the consistent position that PNG has taken in acknowledging that West Papua was an integral part of Indonesia and the West Papuan issue remained as an internal issue for Indonesia to resolve, he said. Other matters discussed included the need for joint cooperation in power connectivity to areas in Western and West Sepik provinces. Both agreed for the two countries to consider jointly developing the border areas through a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). This would facilitate trade, commerce and in doing so, open up employment opportunities for people living on both sides of the border. Regarding investment, Prime Minister Marape requested Ambassador Supandi to identify an Indonesian investor who was interested in buying cattle from PNG, as, he said, Papua New Guinea was ready to enter into a joint venture in this area. Prime Minister Marape finally proposed a Special Travel Protocol between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. This, he added, would not only allow for more people-to-people interactions but would help facilitate easier access by traditional border crossers to continue visiting relatives on each side of the border.

Business

PNG Business News - August 06, 2021

PM Marape says Government is closely monitoring a proposed acquisition of Oil Search Limited

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP says the PNG Government is fully aware of the Santos Limited and Oil Search Limited proposed merger as announced on 21 July 2021 and is closely monitoring it. Prime Minister Marape said his Government has also noted the recent board and management changes at the Oil Search Limited. “Oil Search Limited is a prominent PNG company whose activities comprise a significant percentage of PNG’s GDP and provides the livelihood to thousands of Papua New Guineans both directly and indirectly. Any proposed merger must satisfy the national interest test.” The Prime Minister further stated that his Government’s top priority is to ensure that projects such as Papua LNG, Pasca A and Pn’yang are progressed as soon as possible. He said it is in this context that the Government is keen to see how the merger talks go with Oil Search and Santos adding that he could see some positive developments from this deal. “I strongly recognise that the merger of these two important license players in the market can deliver higher capacity and value to our projects. It brings a stronger combined balance sheet to the table. I also recognise that this proposed merger is a strong positive statement in terms of investor confidence in the operating environment.” He said PNG welcomes the fast-tracking or prioritising of any upstream oil and gas development and downstream LNG export investment in PNG, whether by capital raising and investment or as a direct consequence of a merger or an acquisition. This can only result in demonstrable long-term benefits to PNG including: Rapid development of PNG’s significant world-class proven reserves. Prioritising of PNG projects including integration where-ever possible. Employment and industry training of PNG citizens/residents. Emergence of PNG as a regional energy supplier with best environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles being adhered to by operators. Prime Minister Marape said while any business mergers or takeovers is determined by the parties themselves and their commercial interests he emphasized on the importance of having meaningful capacity and participation through an extensive and senior management level in-country corporate office and leadership thrust. "It is important that the merged entity ensures significant local influence on decisions affecting Papua New Guinea assets, jobs and broader community. "We do not wish for the largest oil and gas company operating in our country to simply be a branch office of a foreign company. It is important that while maintaining a strictly commercial focus, the interests of all employees, contractors and service providers are given the highest priority," he said. The Prime Minister also noted the given fact that Oil Search is dual listed in Papua New Guinea and Australia, that all takeover regulatory requirements are strictly observed at this time. It is the Prime Minister's expectation that the Securities Commission of Papua New Guinea is fully informed of this takeover and that includes ensuring that detailed and appropriate disclosures are maintained in the process for the regulator to do its job well.

Business

PNG Business News - August 02, 2021

ICCC Considers Rejecting Westpac's Acquisition

The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission is debating whether or not to accept Kina Bank's bid to buy Westpac's share in Westpac Bank PNG Limited. Commissioner Paulus Ain of the ICCC has also issued a draft determination on Kina Securities Limited's Authorisation Application for the planned acquisition of 89.91 per cent of Westpac Bank-PNG-Limited ($420 million). The ICCC intends to deny approval for the proposed purchase following public discussions, which included opinions from key parties and market data. “For the reasons outlined in its draft determination, the ICCC is not satisfied that this proposed acquisition would not have, and would not be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening of competition in the relevant markets; and is not satisfied that the proposed acquisition will result, or will be likely to result, in such a benefit to the public that it should be authorised,” Ain said. “Therefore, the ICCC proposes to decline authorisation to KSL.” However, the ICCC has scheduled a meeting on August 11, 2021, for the parties and other stakeholders to comment on the draft finding before the ICCC makes a final conclusion on the proposed purchase. Kina Securities Limited has also verified receiving a copy of the ICCC's draft determination. In response to the draft finding, the bank stated that it remains committed to the acquisition because it thinks it would strengthen competition in the relevant markets and provide a number of significant public benefits. Westpac has also stated that it is working with Kina to evaluate the ICCC's draft determination. Both are expected to submit additional comments to the ICCC before the commission's final judgment is published in September, following the public consultation period that begins next month. “Given Kina Bank’s commitment to financial inclusion and innovation, its proposal to retain all local staff and branches, and its intention to maintain two brands in PNG, Westpac believes that the transaction is in the interests of Westpac’s customers and staff and the people of Papua New Guinea and Fiji,” the bank said in a statement. In December 2020, Westpac announced its plan to sell its Pacific businesses in Fiji and Papua New Guinea to Kina Securities Limited. Kina Securities applied to the ICCC in March seeking approval for its proposal to acquire 89.91 per cent of Westpac PNG's shares, and Kina shareholders approved the acquisition of Westpac's Pacific businesses in April. However, the sale is still pending regulatory approvals in both Fiji and Papua New Guinea.   Reference: Yafoi, Melisha. Post-Courier (28 July 2021). “ICCC Looks To Reject Westpac Acquisition”.

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