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Updated: 2 hours 23 min ago

NCBFG leads volumes

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 23:53

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 13 securities of which two advanced, one declined and ten traded firm.

NCB Financial Group was the volume leader with 102,000 shares changing hands for a value of $402,900Scotia Investments Jamaica Ltd registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.05 to end the day at $2.50.

Conversely, Praetorian Property Mutual Fund suffered the day’s sole decline, falling $0.01 to end the day at $3.02.

On the mutual fund market 14,858 shares changed hands for a value of $332,357.10.

Clico Investment Fund was the most active security, with a volume of 14,758 shares valued at $332,055.

Clico Investment Fund remained at $22.50. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund declined by $0.01 to end at $3.02.

The second tier market did not witness any activity.

Unilever 1Q profits fall by 60%

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 23:50

Unilever Caribbean Ltd yesterday reported that its profit after tax for the first quarter of 2017 declined by 60 per cent to $3.8 million from $9.6 million in the comparable period last year.

The global consumer goods company said the reasons for the sharp decline in its profitability include issues related to start up costs in its capital expenditure programme, higher inflation as a result of rising costs and the continued effects of the foreign exchange shortage.

Unilever Caribbean also experienced a decline in its sales by 14.5 per cent, as its turnover in the first quarter of 2017, amounted to $115 million, down from $134.6 million in 2016.

The company said it “faced a very challenging start to the year, with economic headwinds continuing to impede growth in the Trinidad and Tobago market and impacting negatively the purchasing power of consumers.”

Unilever said in addition to the slowdown in the local market, “the growth seen in some of the key regional markets in the prior year has also softened.”

The company’s unaudited financial statements for the period were signed by its chairman Pablo Garrido.

PM promotes better trade links with Chile

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 23:48

The Governments of T&T and Chile yesterday signed bilateral agreements and have expressed a common view on the importance of regional integration and democracy.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was met by the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and received a guard of honour.

They later had bilateral discussions where agreements were signed and a joint declaration made.

Bachelet said: “Trinidad and Tobago is a very important partner in energy, as a main supplier of Liquefied Natural Gas.”

Bachelet also said: “We want to do move forward towards a trade agreement through the establishment of a working group.”

She also tweeted the two nations have “shared challenges, innovation and economic development and if we combine forces, we can fulfil our goals faster.”

Foreign Ministers of Trinidad and Tobago and Chile, Dennis Moses and Heraldo Munoz respectively signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Copyright Cooperation and Development yesterday.

The agreement realises the importance of intellectual property and its relation to the economic, social and cultural development of both countries.

The countries will work with a view to develop cooperation on matters relating to the creation, utilisation, promotion, protection and administration of intellectual property rights.

This information was posted on the Chilean Minister’s Twitter account shortly after the event.

The MOU was signed yesterday, on the first day of the two-day state visit to the South American nation by the T&T delegation led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

Rowley was met on arrival yesterday by the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

During the bilateral discussions, the two leaders articulated their shared views on the importance of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law, the Principals of International Law, social progress, economic development, transparency as well as the common interests of promoting the well-being of their citizens.

Both leaders pledged to grow and deepen relations in the area of trade, technical cooperation, energy and culture.

In relation to trade, it was highlighted that T&T supplies 92 per cent of Chile’s LNG imports valued at approximately US$650 million while Trinidad and Tobago accounts for 38 per cent of exports from Chile to CARICOM.

According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister: “The leaders are considering undertaking a study on the benefits of the insertion of Trinidad and Tobago together with Chile into the global value chain, so that Trinidad and Tobago might be able to reap the benefits offered by Chile through its extensive network of free trade agreements.”

Trinidad and Tobago remains focused on maintaining its position as a main supplier for fertiliser and other agri-products to Chile.

In the area of culture the two leaders expressed an interest in learning and appreciating each other’s language and culture.

In this regard they are exploring the possibility of a language learning exchange programme through a partnership between the University of Chile and the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

Prime Minister Rowley thanked President Bachelet for her assistance with the issue of the withdrawal of correspondent banking relations for Caribbean financial institutes.

Prime Minister Dr The Honourable Keith Rowley and President Bachelet also signed a joint statement after the bilateral talks.

Apart from Moses, Energy Minister Franklin Khan, Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young are accompanying Rowley. Also part of the delegation are Amery Browne, T&T’s Ambassador to Chile; Captain Douglas Archer, Defence Attaché Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Caracas; Candice N Shade Deputy Director Americas Division and Desk Officer for Chile.

Rowley and the members of the delegation are expected to return tomorrow.

TCI wants Caricom to maintain unified position on de-risking

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 23:29

The Turks and Caicos Islands has appealed to Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries to continue to maintain a united position on the issue of de-risking and the loss of corresponding banking relationships (CBRs).

Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, who came to power in this Overseas British Territory last December, said that she is aware that the 15-member regional integration movement has been looking at the entire issue of de-risking.

“What we find in the Turks and Caicos Islands is an attempt to de-risk entire sectors and that is not the way to go. We are trying to, for example, assess our financial services sector, we are complying with the various standards…but yet the goal post is moving every time we comply with the last standard and everybody else is coming up with their own standard…,” she said.

“Apart from that, our concern is also that you are looking at the casino industry, a sector that is a threat for …de-risking the entire sector,” she said, warning it may result in the illegal movement of “suitcases of money”.

Earlier this year, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said it would be providing US$250,000 to strengthen financial transparency, and assist in preventing the loss of correspondent CBRs in the region.

It noted that in the Caribbean, CBRs facilitate a number of payment systems, including international trade, cross-border payments and receiving of remittances.

But recently, some large international banks have started terminating or severely limiting their CBRs with smaller local and regional banks, in an effort to reduce exposure to risks associated with money-laundering and financing of terrorism.

The CDB project will be a pilot initiative, and will include the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, and seven-member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

It has three components: Strengthening the implementation of, and compliance with, international financial integrity standards by governments in the region, including updating laws and regulations as required. Increasing the technical capacity of banks and credit unions in the Caribbean to conduct customer due diligence, and adopt anti-money laundering best practices.

The CDB said this will include training for staff at financial institutions. Improving public-private sector coordination with regulators to more effectively address de-risking and develop a mechanism for ongoing dialogue between this group and external regulators and foreign banks.

The project will be implemented over three years in partnership with the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group.

CDB president Dr Warren Smith, speaking to reporters at the end of the 47th annual meeting of the bank’s board of governors, said that from the CDB’s perspective de-risking “is one of the biggest dangers to our growth and development that we have faced in recent times.

“It is so because we are small open economies and for that reason we have to depend on very regular trade. You cannot engage in trade if you cannot engage with the international financial system.

“You have to be able to move money in and out of your country. It is as simple as that. So it is something that needs to be addressed, needs to be resolved,” he said, warning however “the resolution is not a simple one”.

“There are very very moving parts here,” Smith said, noting however that the region needs to ensure that “our jurisdictions are credible, that we cannot be accused of being vulnerable to quote, unquote dirty money. So that is what is within our control and I think that is where we need to place greatest attention,” he said. (CMC)

Central Bank keeps repo at 4.75%

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 23:17

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank decided to keep its repo rate at 4.75 per cent at its May 2017 meeting.

In a statement issued late Friday, the Central Bank said: “In its deliberations, the MPC noted that the domestic economy continued to need support toward recovery, and that the risk of overheating did not appear imminent in light of the recent information on inflation.

“At the same time, the narrowing of interest differentials between Trinidad and Tobago and the US has implications for the balance of payments. In light of these factors, the MPC decided to maintain the Repo rate at 4.75 per cent. The Bank will continue to carefully monitor and analyze international and domestic developments in its deliberations.”

The maintenance of the repo rate also involved an assessment of the evolving situation in the domestic economy, according to the Central Bank.

It said: “Oil production in the first quarter of 2017 was higher than over the previous three quarters, albeit 1.6 per cent lower than in the first quarter of 2016. There was also evidence of a pick-up in energy exploration activity which is expected to bolster output in the short to medium term.

“Meanwhile, natural gas production has yet to recover, with output in January to March 2017 recorded at 8.4 per cent lower than the year-earlier period. Other available non-energy statistics suggest that construction and distribution activities were very subdued in early 2017.”

On the other hand, the Central Bank noted: “As a result, the Fed is likely to continue its cycle of interest rate increases in the near-term. In this context, the MPC noted that the upward movement in international interest rates had not been matched by a commensurate movement in domestic rates—for example, the differential between the Trinidad and Tobago and US short-term (three- month) Treasury instruments narrowed to 29 basis points in mid-May compared with 43 basis points at end-March 2017.”

The Central Bank also pointed that the liquidity situation of the financial sector was relatively comfortable with commercial banks’ excess reserves at the Central Bank averaged $3,441 million in April 2017 and have hovered around this level for much of May 2017.

But credit growth, however, has continued to slow as credit granted by the consolidated financial system to the private sector grew by 2.6 per cent (year-on- year) in March 2017 compared with 3.2 per cent a month earlier, with loans to businesses actually declining by 0.7 per cent in the year to March.

The next Monetary Policy Announcement is scheduled for July 28, 2017.

Royal Castle upgrades Piarco

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 23:11

Despite the downturn in the economy, fast food chain Royal Castle continues to expand and upgrade its restaurants, said Sandy Roopchand, CEO, Royal Castle.

“Generally, people still have to eat. Our prices are really affordable and this is what customers come for. Even with the recession they are able to afford. This industry is very competitive but we are able to maintain our customer base as we do have our loyal customers who keep returning,” she said.

Roopchand spoke to the Guardian on Friday at the re-launch of its branch at the Piarco International Airport. She could not give the cost of renovating the Piarco branch, but did say that it was “costly.”

“Renovations all depend on the locations as some stores are very small while others are bigger. It also depends on the age of the store.” She said this is part of their project to renovate all of their stores throughout the country.

“We started with the Maraval branch and we have been going to all the other branches. This is the most recent that we have done. This branch at the Airport has been here for the last 12 years. We wanted to give it a more modern look,” she said.

She also said that the restaurant chain has 30 restaurants around the country, which employ 400 workers and they are currently in expansion mode.

The last restaurant they opened was in March at the C3 Mall in San Fernando. She said a major strength of the brand is that it is locally owned unlike some of the other players in the industry.

While many other businesses complain about lack of access to foreign currency, she said as a locally owned business they do not have that worry.

“Customers do like our local tastes, our local pepper sauce as well as other ingredients. We do support local farmers so that the majority of our products are local and we do not need to import these,” she said.

She said in June, they will be opening another restaurant in Munroe Road, Chaguanas as they look ahead.

Next year marks Royal Castle’s 50th anniversary and she acknowledged the brand’s success rests on their customer base and their ability to constantly evolve.

“We have a loyal customer base and we support local,” she said.

TTNGL adds $0.08

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 00:19

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 12 securities of which six advanced, two declined and four traded firm.

Trading activity on the first tier market registered a volume of 758,804 shares crossing the floor of the exchange valued at $2,971,518.93. NCB Financial Group was the volume leader with 400,000 shares changing hands for a value of $1,580,000, followed by JMMB Group Ltd with a volume of 288,618 shares being traded for $366,548.86.

FirstCaribbean International Bank contributed 21,000 shares with a value of $162,750, while Grace- Kennedy Ltd added 19,137 shares valued at $54,540.45.

TTNGL registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.08 to end the day at $20.75.

Conversely, NCB Financial Group registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.01 to close at $3.95.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the mutual fund market, posting a volume of 2,583 shares valued at $58,118.33.

Clico Investment Fund declined by $0.01 to end at $22.50.

The second tier market did not witness any activity.

Go outside your comfort zone

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 00:15

Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon has urged CIBC First Caribbean Banking Centre and other members of the Bankers Association to “move a little bit beyond your comfort zones and to explore opportunities in new sectors.”

Gopee-Scoon said while the government’s role is to create an enabling environment, equally important is the role of the banking sector to provide the necessary financial products and services to meet the needs of consumers and the business community.

She was delivering the feature address at a ribbon cutting ceremony for CICB’s new Banking Centre at Sun Plaza off the Munroe Road Flyover, Charlieville on Wednesday afternoon.

The minister said CIBC ‘s expansion in T&T after 12 years was noteworthy and underscores the viability of T&T’s financial sector in the face of economic challenges.

CIBC, a regional bank whose parent company is Canadian, has one other branch in Maraval.

Gopee-Scoon, stressing the need for the banking sector to play a critical role in the development of T&T, financial institutions constitute second largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product, generating $16 billion or 17 per cent of GDP. She said the growth of banks has outpaced the country’s economic expansion.

She asked banks to look at several sectors, including the creative industries, tourism and hospitality and maritime sectors. Micro, small and medium enterprises, she said, need the greatest support and understanding from the banking sector.

Among the guests at the event were Central Bank’s Michelle Francis-Pantor, Deputy Inspector, Banks, Non-Banks & Payment Systems Oversight, members of CIBC’s board of directors and Vishnu Charran, president of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

CIBC’s local managing director, Anthony Seeraj, in his remarks, said the opening of the Chaguanas Banking Centre was an exciting development.

He said they have actually been operating out of the Munroe Road location for a month and have already seen a lot of interest and success. “The growth opportunities we see for ourselves are incredible.”

Mark St Hill, CIBC chairman and managing director, in his address, said the opening of the Chaguanas centre represented a significant milestone in the history of the bank.

CIBC CEO Gary Brown said this year marks 150 years of the existence of the bank’s parent company, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and 97 years since CIBC has been in the Caribbean.

He promised CIBC will continue to invest in T&T’s economy and the Caribbean.

Charran told the T&T Guardian he was pleased with the new banking centre, saying it was an indication of the continued growth of Chaguanas and investors’ confidence in the area.

T&T losing competitiveness

Sat, 05/27/2017 - 00:13

A minute of silence was observed in acknowledgement of the life and passing of Dr Anthony N Sabga at the start of the 88th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ANSA McAL shareholders held at the Radisson Hotel in Port-Of-Spain on Thursday.

The sombre start to the event was seen by all as a mark of respect for the sterling contribution of Sabga to the local and regional business landscape.

ANSA McAl director David Clarke told shareholders about the time and experiences he shared with the late businessman.

“I had the privilege of knowing Dr Sabga for some 50 years. He had many excellent core values. He was a family man and a very charitable man. The establishment of the ANSA McAL Foundation and the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards are testimony to this.” Clarke said.

Clarke added that the time he spent working with Dr Sabga taught him many life lessons.

He said: “One of the things I learned from him was the importance of integrity. I learned also of the great sympathy he had for all the employees of the ANSA McAL group of companies and all the shareholders. Many of the decisions he took were in the interest of employees and shareholders.”

Struggling to hold back his own tears, group chairman and CEO Norman Sabga commented on his father’s tremendous work ethic.

He said: “The DNA that Dr Sabga left us with will always be with us. He worked up until two or three weeks before he passed. That tenacity and leadership, even at that stage, was so evident in each day that he came to work and what he achieved.”

Turning his attention to the current economic environment, Sabga said that local companies needed to become more competitive to capture existing business opportunities and generate greater levels of foreign exchange.

“The problem we have in Trinidad is one of competitiveness. We’ve been losing that competitiveness in terms of price escalations, wages, productivity and even in energy.” Sabga said.

For its financial year ended December 31st 2016, ANSA McAL generated profit after tax of $803 million from $6 billion in revenue.

In the first quarter of its 2017 financial year, the group registered $155 million in after tax profit—a marginal decline from the $156 million it earned for the comparative period in 2016.

Revenue also contracted for the first quarter by 1 per cent, moving from $1.411 billion in March 2016 to $1.396 billion in March 2017.


TTNGL declines $0.66 again

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:57

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 14 securities of which one advanced, five declined and eight traded firm.

Trading activity on the first tier market registered a volume of 119,271 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $1,437,656.94. NCB Financial Group was the volume leader with 52,000 shares changing hands for a value of $206,120, followed by First Citizens Bank with a volume of 27,593 shares being traded for $878,837.05. FirstCaribbean International Bank contributed 15,100 shares with a value of $117,025, while Guardian Holdings Ltd added 5,801 shares valued at $92,816.

Clico Investment Fund enjoyed the day’s sole price increase, climbing $0.01 to end the day at $22.51. Conversely, TTNGL registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.66 to close at $20.67. Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the mutual fund market, posting a volume of 9,000 shares valued at $202,570. Clico Investment Fund advanced by $0.01 to end at $22.51.

The second tier market did not witness any activity.

ANSA Merchant defies the odds

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:56

ANSA Merchant Bank was able to increase its net operating income by 8 per cent for the year ending December 31, 2016—even though the local economy contracted last year. The profit before tax also increased from $297 million in 2015 to $322 million in 2016, for a year-over-year increase of 8.4 per cent, which is the second highest in its history.

According to the chairman’s report, despite the cyclical nature of economies which move from boom to bust cycles, T&T’s strengths go beyond its natural resources and so T&T’s well-educated workforce, its stable political environment and civic mindedness are values that give ANSA Merchant Bank the optimism for the future despite the “day-to-day vagaries of the market.”

ANSA Merchant Bank held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel, Port-of-Spain.

The chairman’s report said: “We have shared over the years that the principal reason for the strength and stability of ANSA Merchant Bank is that we manage and operate our company with a consistent set of business principles and core values. As we move forward in these uncertain economic times, we believe that shareholders will benefit from our commitment to continue doing the right thing.”

According to the managing director’s Report, ANSA Merchant Bank’s consolidated results reveal an “outstanding performance” in 2016.

The report stated that in October 2016, ANSA Merchant Bank acquired Consolidated Finance Co Limited (CFC) of Barbados.

“This was one of the several new opportunities that we are capitalising on at this time and represent the first step in deepening our regional footprint. Many of the strategies that we employed a few years ago have safely positioned our business for the very challenges we face today.”

The managing director’s report stated that ANSA Merchant Bank and its subsidiaries, TATIL, TATIL Life, and now CFC reported earnings per share that increased from $2.89 in 2015 to $2.94 in 2016.

Timothy Hamel-Smith, a board member of the ANSA Merchant Bank paid tribute to the late Dr Anthony N Sabga at the AGM saying it was he who laid the foundation for the successes of ANSA Merchant Bank and the Group.

“I came to know Dr Sabga in 1999. This started as a small bank and without his vision we would not be where we are today. Dr Sabga had an innate knack for businesses that one cannot learn in a book. That is now in the DNA of the ANSA McAL Group,” he said.

Sabga was chairman of ANSA Merchant Bank until his death on May 3.

NGC responds: 30 fired workers were surplus

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 00:53

The National Gas Company (NGC) of T&T confirmed yesterday that it notified 30 contract workers, some of whom worked at the Beetham Waste Water Project, that their contracts would not be renewed. In emailed responses, the company said the workers were surplus to NGC’s needs and were not employees of the company but workers with short-term contracts.

On Wednesday, the workers were informed at a meeting with NGC that their contracts would not be renewed. The workers say they feel betrayed by NGC because they had worked hard to reduce costs so the company could make profits.

“These contract workers are surplus to manpower requirements. Several relate to the Beetham Waste Water Project which was terminated; others perform duties which are not currently required by NGC. None of them are permanent employees,” NGC said.

The affected employees, in an interview after Wednesday’s meetings had said NGC was not justified in making the cut as the company continues to hire executives at the company.

However, NGC maintained that the decision was imperative in order to, “streamline the company in the face of a still very difficult energy environment.”

Referring to the process used to reduce the contract workers, NGC assured it followed best practice because the workers were treated, “as if they had all been permanently employed under the Industrial Relations Act, by according them severance benefits. NGC will also provide financial counselling and out-placement counselling.

Under the previous administration, in March 2014, the National Gas Company awarded a contract in the sum of $1,037,154,560 to Super Industrial Services Limited (“SIS”) for the Design and Build of the Beetham Water Recycling Plant together with the associated pipelines and water storage facilities, which is more commonly known as the Beetham Waste Water project.

The purpose of the project was to recycle output water from WASA’s existing wastewater treatment plant to industrial water quality standard and to take the pipe-treated water from Beetham to the Pt Lisas Industrial Estate using newly built pipeline infrastructure. The water would then be stored at water tank facilities and delivered to WASA.

The current administration stopped the project and began legal action against the contractor.

NGC cutting 30 workers

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 22:34

By month’s end, some 30 employees of the National Gas Company (NGC) will no longer have jobs as their contracts are not being renewed by the company.

The group, who were called in to meet with NGC officials yesterday in one-on-one meetings, gathered yesterday in Point Lisas after being given the news.

The T&T Guardian understands that the contract periods of these employees were reduced from six months to three months last December and the company began sending home employees by the ‘handful’ since then.

A spokesperson who asked not to be identified told the T&T Guardian the employees are disappointed in the company. “We feel betrayed by our management because we have worked hard to reduce costs, in order to keep the company and the country in a good economic standing for the past years,” the worker said.

“NGC is still making a profit and there are many areas where we can increase profit.” The workers will be sent home from the pipeline services department, support services and administrative staff as an Offshore Field office has been closed.

The spokesperson said the cut is not necessary as the company is still hiring high level employees.

“This move is not needed because NGC is still hiring high level employees while the technical staff pays for the state of the economy. The technical staff are fed up of being treated like dogs while upper management account for the bulk of monies paid in salary.”

Another employee who said he has been working at the company for over three years as a technician said he does not know how he will find work now.

“There are so many people out there who are looking for jobs, I don’t know how I am going to afford to pay my loan now,” he lamented.

The T&T Guardian tried contacting NGC’s Communications Manager Lisa Burkett via phone and email but no response was forthcoming.

A text message was sent to the cellphone of NGC chairman Gerry Brooks but there also no response.

TTNGL declines $0.66

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 22:33

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 19 securities of which three advanced, four declined and 12 traded firm.

Trading activity on the first tier market registered a volume of 277,751 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $7,224,385.39.

NCB Financial Group was the volume leader with 148,884 shares changing hands for a value of $591,330.05, followed by Republic Financial Holdings with a volume of 56,190 shares being traded for $5,726,884.80. JMMB Group contributed 21,142 shares with a value of $27,053.54, while National Enterprises Ltd added 14,718 shares valued at $154,662.00.

Republic Financial Holdings registered the day’s largest gain, increasing $0.03 to end the day at $101.92. Conversely, TTNGL registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.66 to close at $21.33.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the mutual fund market, posting a volume of 50,615 shares valued at $1,138,944.65. Clico Investment Fund remained at $22.50.

The second tier market did not witness any activity.

CL Financial in legal letter to Imbert: Remove your directors now

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 22:26

Remove government directors from CL Financial’s board within one week.

“We’ll do whatever is necessary in a legal framework to get back the companies. And yes, this is a first step,” said Carlton Reis (spokesman for Dalco and for CL Financial significant shareholder Lawrence Duprey).

Reis added yesterday: “We have enough evidence to show Government is mismanaging CLF’s assets. Government has been irresponsible, doing as they please and not consulting shareholders.”

Shareholders’ attorneys wrote to the Finance Minister last week calling for the removal of government’s directors. The letter was delivered Tuesday, Reis said.

The letter added: “In view of the expiration of the shareholders’ agreement and Government’s failure to respond either meaningfully or at all to the PWC report (on CL Financial) our client has taken a decision that management control of CL Financial must be restored without further delay to directors elected by shareholders to ensure the interests of CLF and its subsidiaries, affiliates, shareholders and other stakeholders will be properly protected in any disposal of assets of the CL Financial Group effected on Government’s instructions and/or the Liquidator of CIB.

“Therefore, we’ve been instructed by our client to call on you in the capacity of Minister of Finance representing Government in this matter to procure the immediate resignation or removal from the board of directors of CL Financial of all government directors.

“Please ensure this is effected within seven (7) days from the date of this letter to avoid any need for our client to take alternative action for their removal.”

Pending the removal of government’s director, the shareholders intend to hold a special general meeting of CL Financial for the election of at least three of its nominees as additional directors of the company.

This move by the company shareholders followed Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s May 10 statements that the group could owe the Government as much as $27.7 billion from Government’s January 2009 bailout. Imbert said the Government was seeking to recover funds. Shareholders however, disputed his figures.

In their letter to the ministry, shareholders said they’re anxious to facilitate early settlement of the liabilities of the Government and “willing to enter into good faith negotiations to achieve this end.”

But their concern primarily was with the shareholders’ agreement which hasn’t been renewed.

The June 2009 shareholders’ agreement was between CL Financial Limited, the Government, the directors of CL Financial Limited and the majority shareholders of CL Financial Limited (now represented by United Shareholders Limited- USL). The attorneys’ letter stated they’d been consulted by USL and authorised to represent CL Financial shareholders.

The 2009 agreement involved steps to correct the financial condition of Clico, Clico Investment Bank and British American to protect the interest of depositors, policyholders, creditors and shareholders after the 2009 Clico collapse.

The agreement, which was extended in 2012 and to August 2016, allowed the establishment of a new CL Financial board of directors. This comprised seven directors—four nominated by the Government and three directors representing the interests of CL Financial.

The present board comprises Dr Rolph Balgobin (chairman), Kirby Anthony Hosam, Terrence Bharath and Ingrid Lashley as government director.

CLF shareholder directors are Albert Tom Yew, Fredrick Gilkes and Trevor Marshall. Marlon Holder, who’s been managing director since 2010, comprises an eighth director.

The letter noted the last extension was to give the parties time to negotiate and agree on a new shareholders agreement. But it stated, the extension date has expired and parties do not have a new agreement nor further extension of this.

The letter added: “Accordingly, Government no longer has any right to be part of the board and/or management of CL Financial or to exercise any management control of CL Financial or any other rights under or in respect of the shareholders’ agreement in relation to CL Financial or its subsidiaries or affiliates.

“Our client is extremely disappointed at Government’s attitude towards settlement of the CL Financial group liabilities.”

The letter cited “long delay” since the initial intervention in 2009 during which the Government retained control of CL Financial’s board and the boards of substantial subsidiaries “but has done very little to progress repayment of liabilities incurred by the CL Financial group to Government.”

It was noted public statement by the Finance Ministry and other government officials “exaggerate the liabilities of the CL Financial Group to Government and suggest Government simply intends to dispose of assets at likely undervalue without any proper plan.”

The letter cited the Government’s failure to come up with its own repayment plan.

The Government was also accused of ignoring the report done by the PWC accounting firm which shareholders retained to review CLF’s assets/liabilities and prepare a settlement proposal. The report, done in December 2016 and sent to the ministry in January 2017, included a repayment plan and proposals for the restructuring and/or liquidation of CL Financial entities.


The legal letter also expressed concern at the Government’s failure to retain as a whole the block of Republic Bank shares held by the CLF Group amounting to approximately 51.37 per cent of the issued capital of Republic Bank Limited.

“Since the date of the intervention a significant portion of the Republic Bank shares has already been divested, namely 1.31 per cent by the Liquidator of CIB to a purchaser who is not known to our client and 24.69 per cent by CLICO by direction of Central Bank to trustees of the Clico Investment Fund.

“The consideration for the shares divested by Clico was based on a valuation of $109.72 for each share for which Clico received a GORTT Bond in the principal amount of $4.397 billion bearing interest at 4.2 per cent per annum with a maturity date of 2032.

“It has been publicly reported that GORTT proposes to sell the remaining blocks of Republic Bank shares vested in Clico (7.26 per cent) and CIB (18.1 per cent) separately.”

The letter stated: “The effect of separate divestment of the Republic Bank shares in separate blocks is that the CL Financial group has lost the substantial premium that disposal of a controlling interest in Republic Bank Limited would have attracted.

“In 2014 a valuation of the Republic Bank control premium was done by Deloitte, USA, who found that the value of the premium would range between a low of 25 per cent and a high of 30 per cent with the mid-range being 27.5 per cent This represents a significant loss of benefit for the CL Financial Group which Government will be required to make good.”

...our client has taken a decision that management control of CL Financial must be restored without further delay to directors elected by shareholders to ensure the interests of CLF and its subsidiaries, affiliates, shareholders and other stakeholders will be properly protected...

OCM declines $0.60

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 00:55

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 17 securities of which one advanced, nine declined and seven traded firm.

Trading activity on the first tier market registered a volume of 417,217 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $11,971,869.23.

Guardian Holdings Ltd was the volume leader with 140,026 shares changing hands for a value of $2,240,416, followed by First Citizens Bank with a volume of 124,718 shares being traded for $3,972,269.86. Republic Financial Holdings Ltd contributed 46,897 shares with a value of $4,778,128.49, while Ssgicor Financial Corporation added 40,545 shares valued at $364,499.55.

Republic Financial Holdings Ltd enjoyed the day’s sole price increase, climbing $0.04 to end the day at $101.89. Conversely, One Caribbean Media registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.60 to close at $16.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the mutual fund market, posting a volume of 32,433 shares valued at $729,805.80. Clico Investment Fund remained at $22.50.

The second tier market did not witness any activity.

Central Bank adjusts MMRR weighting

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 00:52

After a review lasting more than a year, the Central Bank has decided to make a major change to its Mortgage Market Reference Rate (MMRR), which banks have utilised as the guideline for adjusting their variable mortgage rates.

The Central Bank announced in a news release on Monday that it was adjusting the weighting structure of the MMRR, which now comprises a cost of funds element (at 40 per cent) and a representative interest rate element (at 60 per cent).

This 40:60 weighting has been changed to 50:50, in a move the Central Bank says would help to lower volatility in the MMRR moving forward.

Information on the cost of funds is derived from the weighted average costs of bank liabilities and other funding liabilities and policy and deposit insurance costs, while the 15-year Treasury bond yield is used as the representative interest rate.

The MMRR has been maintained at a rate of 3.00 per cent since March 2016 when the latest review commenced. According to the Central Bank, based on available data to March 2017, the 50:50 formulation would have resulted in the MMRR remaining at 3.00 per cent, while the 40:60 formulation would have resulted in an MMRR of 3.50 per cent.

The Bank said: “Given that the MMRR is not a policy rate of the Central Bank and alignment of mortgages to the MMRR is not mandatory, individual commercial banks would explicitly indicate whether they would continue to align their variable mortgage rates to the MMRR.

“The list of banks that utilise the MMRR in determining their variable interest rates will be published on the Central Bank’s website. In the interest of public disclosure and transparency, other commercial banks not aligned to the MMRR will need to declare to their customers and to the Central Bank the reference rates to which their mortgages are aligned.”

The Central Bank said T&T’s commercial banks have committed to adjusting the wording of their mortgage contracts, advertisements and published statements to further clarify, where necessary, the basis on which mortgage rates are to be adjusted. All commercial banks will remain bound by the disclosure requirements in the Guideline.

The Central Bank will resume publication of the MMRR on June 1, 2017, taking into account the changes to the benchmark.

The Central Bank, in consultation with the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT), introduced the “Residential Real Estate Mortgage Market Guideline” in September 2011.

The main aim of the Guideline is to improve transparency in the local residential mortgage market by requesting that commercial banks disclose to their customers information about how banks set mortgage rates and the conditions under which rates are adjusted over the term of their mortgage. The Guideline also established the MMRR.

T&T registers first ‘green’ building

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 00:50

T&T has registered its first ever “green” building in the form of a flagship commercial development owned by RGM Limited.

Aptly named for its location, Savannah East was designed and built in an environmentally responsible manner and will operate much in the same way as it promotes recycling and encourages sustainable energy through the use of rainwater to flush fixtures, condensate water from the air-conditioning system to irrigate the green spaces in the building, insulated windows and roofing to reduce heat transfer and the creation of energy every time the elevator is used.

The building, which was Constructed at a cost of $145 million, received its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification in March. A plaque stating this fact has been affixed to the front wall of the building which is situated on the eastern side of the Queen’s Park Savannah and provides a picturesque view for the occupants.

Describing RGM Limited as the vanguard heralding the way society should be thinking now, Facilities Manager Ronald Ayoung said: “This is about how we preserve our natural resources and how we can be more efficient in the use of the resources we have.”

During a tour of the new six-storey building on Tuesday, Ayoung urged people not to become complacent as electricity and fuel were not finite and would eventually run out one day.

He said: “From RGM’s point of view, it is important for us to be as demonstrative as a leader in terms of where we should be going forward.”

LEED buildings are said to produce less waste thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the organisation, whilst simultaneously boosting productivity through the creation of improved working environments.

Savannah East also has the honour of being named as the first building certified under LEED-CS v2009 in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Devanand Ragbir who headed the project on behalf of the local Green Building Council said:“A lot of people just don’t understand the concept of a green building.”

Boasting that the indoor-air quality was in keeping with international guidelines as it was a smoke-free building, Ragbir said they had managed to rack up points with the international rating agency as they satisfied prerequisite guidelines and achieved outlined targets throughout the project.

Revealing that over 200,000 pounds of materials from the site had been recycled during construction, Ragbir said other efforts included filtering all rain-water collected at the site and washing vehicles in a way that reduced the transfer of mud and other sediments.

Elaborating on the social and environmental benefits to be realised from such projects, Ragbir agreed it would easier to reconfigure some of the newer government buildings recently opened as they had incorporated some of the features which LEED promoted.

$16.8mn Readymix shares traded

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 00:50

Overall market activity resulted from trading in 13 securities of which one advanced, three declined and nine traded firm.

Trading activity on the first tier market registered a volume of 2,083,671 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $22,380,356.12.

Readymix (West Indies) Ltd was the volume leader with 1,530,386 shares changing hands for a value of $16,834,246, followed by Sagicor Financial Corporation with a volume of 525,504 shares being traded for $4,727,636. GraceKennedy Ltd contributed 8,000 shares with a value of $22,410, while ANSA MERCHANT BANK LIMITED added 7,023 shares valued at $280,920.

GraceKennedy Ltd enjoyed the day’s sole price increase, climbing $0.02 to end the day at $2.80. Conversely, Scotiabank registered the day’s largest decline, falling $0.03 to close at $58.

Clico Investment Fund was the only active security on the mutual fund market, posting a volume of 6,990 shares valued at $157,275. Clico Investment Fund remained at $22.50.

Bourse Brazil Latin America Fund remained at $8.08. Calypso Macro Index Fund remained at $21.48. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund - Development Fund remained at $0.67. Fortress Caribbean Property Fund SCC - Value Fund remained at $1.70. Praetorian Property Mutual Fund remained at $3.03.

The second tier market did not witness any activity.

Three elected to GML board

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 00:48

Guardian Media Ltd (GML) shareholders yesterday elected three new directors on to the media company’s board at its 101st annual meeting, which was held at the Radisson Trinidad Hotel.

The three new GML directors were Principal of the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, Professor Brian Copeland, retired First Citizens executive Sharon Christopher and head of content at GML Nicholas Sabga.

GML chair Teresa White, in her report accompanying the financial statement, said the company has restructured its business to “make the most of the rapidly changing media industry, better aligning our operations with how our audiences and advertisers use media in the digital world.”

White also signalled that a new phase of GML’s print optimisation project is to begin soon, but she did not give a definitive timeline.

Alluding to T&T’s economic downturn, GML managing director, Lucio Mesquita said a transformation plan is never easy to implement. In his message accompanying the company’s 2016 annual report, he said: “A transformation plan, especially during tough market conditions, is never easy. We are having to make difficult decisions, including staff reductions,” he said.

Mesquita assured shareholders that the relationship between management and the union remains good. “Although we will not always agree on everything, I am pleased with the relationship we have been developing with our staff union, BIGWU, especially in areas of common interest like health and safety and professional development,” said Mesquita.

He added: “We made considerable gains in 2016 but some of the most complex and radical changes to GML’s way of working will only be completed in 2017.”

In its 2016 annual report, Guardian Media Ltd (GML) reported profit after tax of $6.3 million for the period ended December 31, 2016 and earnings per share of $0.15.

A final dividend of $0.50 will be paid in June 2017.