The deadline for digital registration of existing companies, foreign companies and business name holders has been extended to 31 July 2021. The Fiji government says the additional extension has been granted on the basis of the enduring hardship that many businesses have faced due to health restrictions and border closures. Companies and foreign companies will be deregistered and business names ceased if not digitally registered by 31 July 2021.
Japanese consortium Sevens Pacific Pte Limited will acquire a 44% shareholding in Energy Fiji Limited (EFL). The consortium is owned by Chugoku Electric Power Company (CEPCO) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) . The consortium will acquire 44% of shares in EFL, acquiring 24% from Government and 20% from FNPF. The Fijian Government will continue to remain the major shareholder in EFL, retaining a controlling interest of 51% of the shares in EFL while Fijian account holders with shares in EFL continue to hold 5%.
The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) Board has agreed to keep the Overnight Policy Rate at 0.25%. RBF Governor Ariff Ali says “the accommodative monetary policy stance remains appropriate given the subdued domestic economic activity and output remaining well below potential.”
The Bank says lending to the private sector decelerated last month due to lower lending to the private sector. It says the start of vaccinations and “prospects for business conditions, investment, retail sales and employment reflected in the Reserve Bank’s December 2020 Retail Sales and Business Expectations Surveys” point to some optimism over the next 12 months.
Broadcaster Communications Fiji Limited has announced an after profit tax of $824,394, and 4% financial dividend for the financial year ending December 31, 2020. Chairman William Parkinson said while it was a tough year, he’s proud the company delivered a final profit, while avoiding pay cuts. The company’s subsidiary, PNG FM recently purchased a block of land, and is working on plans for new studios in Port Moresby.
At Communications Fiji Ltd (CFL) Director Vilash Chand has retired, and Maciu Lumelume has joined the Board, representing significant shareholder, the Unit Trust of Fiji.
The Bank of the South Pacific is changing its name to BSP Financial Group Limited. The Company says its also progressing with its proposed secondary listing of its ordinary shares on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
Changing of the guard at two of Fiji’s prominent publicly listed companies.
Sanjay Punja is the new CEO of Atlantic & Pacific Packaging Company, and the new Managing Director of FMF Foods and The Rice Company of Fiji. Punja was previously CEO of all three companies in the 1990s -2009. His return comes as Ram Bajekal steps down as Managing Director of the companies. Meanwhile Jenny Seeto has been appointed as an Independent Director of the FMF, The Rice Company of Fiji, and Atlantic and Pacific Packaging Company, and will Chair their Audit and Finance Sub-Committees.
Meanwhile at FMF Foods, Hari Punja has stepped down as Director and Chairman, as “part of succession planning” at the firm. Ram Bajekal is the new Chair.
Western division education provider, Free Bird Institute has announced a net profit of F$710,387 for 2020. Chief Financial Officer, Waisale Iowane said: “Our service fee revenue decreased by 43% with an overall decline in total revenue by 17%, a direct effect of the closure of international borders. We had to act swiftly to ensure that our response was aligned with the continuous changes locally and globally and we ensured that we took the necessary steps which affected our employees progressively. The decisions made were not easy but were necessary due to the uncertainty that was before us.”
The United States embassy last week convened a virtual conference of more than fifty U.S.-based consulting companies to introduce them to Fiji’s burgeoning export sector. The conference, “Growing the Fiji Brand: U.S. Services Needed,” attracted U.S. companies that can assist Fijian companies with business to business matchmaking, distribution, marketing, and biosecurity compliance.
In 2019, Fiji exported $246 million worth of goods to the United States. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic slowdown, exports to the United States only dipped to $224 million.
Savusavu Bay has been approved as Fiji’s second Blue Lanes Yacht Port, joining Port Denarau in Fiji’s west. "The Blue Lanes initiative has given yachters from around the world the chance to join Fijians in COVID-Contained paradise. With more than 330 days since the last local case of the coronavirus in Fiji and more than 100 vessels approved, Fiji's Blue Lanes represent the safest and most sustainable tourism pathway in the world. The yachts docked at our Port Denarau, and those that will berth soon in Savusavu, are testament to our willingness to innovate and our commitment to COVID-safe tourism," said the Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Faiyaz Koya.
Barely a year after it bought a 20 percent stake in Energy Fiji Ltd (EFL), the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) is in the process of selling it.
While details have yet to be announced, Islands Business has been reliably informed that the divestment by FNPF was a condition in the initial purchase agreement when the pension fund bought the shares from the Fiji Government in August 2019.
"It was always understood that FNPF will hold on to the shares until the Government finds a strategic partner to buy the 44 percent, in which case FNPF will sell its holding, as per the sale agreement" Islands Business was told.
Whether the FNPF will recover the $206.1 million it forked out for the 20 percent stake in EFL stakes – as disclosed in the 2019 EFL Annual Report – is not known, but Islands Business has been told that talks on the divestment have concluded and that a statement will be issued soon.
In an interview with state-owned radio FBC news last week, Fiji's Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said negotiations had begun between EFL and an investor experienced in the energy sector for the divestment of the 44 percent stake in EFL.
"We are very excited about this one particular company that brings a lot of international savvy, international expertise and they have the ability to attract international capital to this particular divestment process and should they cross the line and we have this divestment in place then we think that EFL will be very much complimented by this new partnership," Sayed-Khaiyum told FBC.
Power production in Fiji is an open market but EFL, as a fully government-owned company, holds the monopoly license for retail power sale and distribution.
The Fijian Government has been trying to divest 44 percent of the company since 2015, but its earlier efforts have been unsuccessful.
A flash regulatory reform in 2017 produced the updated Fiji Electricity Act 2017 and paved the way for a 20 percent sell-off to FNPF after calls for Expressions of Interest failed to attract buyers.
Five percent, deemed non-voting shares, were offered for free to current and future EFL customers, while 75 percent was retained by the Government as it continued its search for potential buyers.
Upon completion of this latest round of divestment, the new ownership structure of EFL is likely to be: Fiji Government (51%), EFL customers (5%), and the new partner (44%).