Governor meets with team working to sell HOVENSA


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Gov. John deJongh Jr. has met with representatives from the investment bank HOVENSA hired to try to sell the refinery.

The governor's briefing with investment bankers from Lazard Ltd. - the company HOVENSA retained to direct the marketing and potential sale of the refinery on St. Croix's south shore - was one of the provisions contained in the Fourth Amendment Agreement between the government and HOVENSA that the Legislature approved Nov. 4.

The agreement, which deJongh signed Nov. 7, required HOVENSA to retain within 10 days of ratification a reputable investment bank experienced in the sale of oil and gas assets to conduct a bona fide sales process.

On Nov. 18, HOVENSA announced it had retained Lazard, a global independent advisory firm, as its sole investment banker.

The agreement also required HOVENSA to arrange for the investment bankers to brief the governor and his advisers, Duff and Phelps, before beginning the process of trying to sell the refinery to "explain the strategy and mechanics of the sales process and to respond to questions posed by the governor" and his advisers.

The agreement also requires the investment bankers to provide monthly status briefings for Duff and Phelps after that initial meeting and any time an event the bankers consider significant to the sales process occurs.

Government House put out a press release Friday that included some information about the initial meeting, but it was not clear from the press release when that briefing occurred.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said Friday that he was not sure when the meeting occurred, possibly that week - the week of Dec. 23 - or late in the previous week. He did not respond to messages seeking clarification on Monday.

The agreement sets up a period that the refinery will be for sale that only lasts through Aug. 15, after which the agreement and "sales process period" expires unless the parties agree to extend it.

The agreement also contains a few dates outside of that period. For instance, it defers a portion of HOVENSA's annual payment in lieu of taxes until the refinery sells, HOVENSA ceases to operate an oil storage terminal or Aug. 15, 2019, whichever is soonest.

The Government House press release on Friday quoted the governor on the discussion he had with the investment bankers.

"I asked them to describe the sale process and the type of buyers that might be interested in the facility. What I learned was consistent with other reports on oil refinery operations," deJongh said in the press release. "The large amount of oil being produced in the Midwestern United States and shipped to Texas and Louisiana makes the HOVENSA refinery on St. Croix an attractive opportunity for both domestic and international operations."

The release said that Lazard plans to market the shuttered refinery on St. Croix's south shore through its offices in New York City, Houston and Paris, "in order to capture a wide group of potential buyers."

The Daily News was unable to reach attorney George Dudley, the local attorney who represents HOVENSA and its owners, or Alex Moorhead, a HOVENSA spokesman, on Monday night for comment about the meeting.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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