The Trinidad alliance . . . another angle
Published on: 7/9/07.
by Hilford Murrell
AS SOON AS it became public knowledge that Neal & Massy Holdings Limited was seeking to merge with Barbados Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd (BS&T), there were numerous calls for Government to halt the transaction…
If the BNB/Republic Bank experience serves as any example of a Barbados/Trinidad relationship, then the shareholders in BS&T should be less concerned about their future in a similar union. The only caution lies in the choice of such a partner.
The BS&T saga is sure to heat up again in the coming days and weeks and no doubt the sentiments raised by what is being described as an emotional and xenophobic Barbadian public will reach a crescendo. Many business analysts appear to be oozing out of the wood work with their narrow and greedy agendas. The latest such analyst is Hilford Murrell who is quoted in the Nation newspaper extract above. He is of the firm view that in the same way Republic Bank has turned around the fortunes of the Barbados National Bank, so too shareholders stand to gain from the sale of BS&T to Neal & Massy.
A quick question to Murrell, is the retention of the name Barbados National Bank by Republic Bank and the obvious goodwill which it has translated profit an ethical decision by them?
The point the analysts like Mr. Murrell continue to miss is to view the BS&T merger in isolation. Why is it that in the developed world certain companies which are viewed as national symbols are protected? Do you imagine that in the USA, Wal-mart and Citibank would shift to 100% foreign ownership and the average American say and do nothing? How are the North Americans able to manipulate the system to protect companies branded national treasures? We know that it is not the ideal comparison but the point we seek to make, the open door policy, similar to our policy on immigration cannot be left unregulated. Trinidadians have been investing in Barbados for years, we therefore do not buy this anti-Trinidadian crap. The other observation is the integration process under the umbrella of CARICOM is spluttering. The lack of support by regional governments to support regional air travel which is an obvious ingredient for regional integration is note worthy. Having said that, the cash rich companies of Trinidad are gobbling-up companies in Barbados under the guise of CSME when it is clear for all to see that CSME is still a work in progress. Why is it that Barbados must always be the guinea pig?
What ever became of the 100 million which Barbados is owed under the Caribbean Multinational Clearing Facility?
Analysts like Mr. Murrell sit and get fat and have said very little as of now on the need for Barbadian companies to change course. Why have they not put heat, over the years, on the directors of local companies to get up off their asses and represent the interest of the shareholders by maximizing the resources? Why have they not inundated the call-in programs, appear on the TV shows much in the same way Patrick Hoyos and Douglas Skeete are attempting to do? Instead, many of these so called analysts are happy to say the right things so that they are seen as being with the “in-crowd” and to get invited to the cocktail circuit. They write the occasional newspaper article or a book to boast that they are now “published”__ seems all very mundane doesn’t it?
Do you know why the house slave was not liked by the field slave?
BU want Mr. Murrell to respond to Prime Minister’s Arthur recent revelation that he is concerned with the type of investment coming out of Trinidad into Barbados. The investment has taken the easy form of Mergers & Acquisitions instead of new investment which would help to build capacity in the economy, create jobs etc. BU also want to hear Murrell’s view on the report published in the Trinidad Express which paints a picture of a Trinidadian economy which is energized by petro-dollars; however the inability of the T&T stock exchange to create equivalent investment opportunities has forced the cash rich T&T companies to set sights on the undervalued companies in the Eastern Caribbean. We ask Mr. Murrell and others to slither from under the comfort of their rocks and seize their civic duty by seeking to educate a Barbadian public which is illiterate in the ways of business. All of them owe it to Barbados which has invested millions of dollars over the years to educate them.
In the coming weeks as this issue intensifies BU will comment some more. Readers must discern by now that we are very intolerant of the “fat cats” in our society who have benefited from free education but are reluctant to give back in ways to protect the well being of our small society. For those who are comfortable now, we remind them that it is a state which can change over night. Let us all use the power which free education has given us to power Barbados into the new and competitive world which has emerged.
Related BU Stories
- Sir Allan Fields The Man Behind The Orchestration To Dump Barbados Shipping And Trading To The Trinidadians
“The greater good”
Why should the good stockholders of BS&T act against their own financial self-interest to placate those “illiterate in the ways of busines”? It would be interesting to know how many of the anti-capitalists, anti-free market, greater good brigade actually own half a share in any bajan company? Does the greater good brigade take pay cuts for the greater good? Should Jordan’s start selling his goods at below market prices for the greater good? Should civil servants work for slave wages for the greater good? The greater good brigade can aford to be exceedingly benevolent with other people’s money. When they are as benevolent with their labour and land, then maybe Sir Allen et al will stand up and take notice.
We almost choked on our muffin when at 11.05AM this morning we heard no less a person than Hilford Murrell who called in to the VOB callin show to deliver what we thought was an excellent contribution. Mr. Murrell we kicked you in the ass in this article but we applaud your contribution this morning. We urge you and others with knowledge of these matters to come forward, for the public good to clarify and demystify these matters.
In response to the de gap, the confidence in the market can only be realize if shareholders are educated. To operate on the basis of deriving the highest economic value may not always be in the interest of the shareholders, in this case BS&T.
The shareholders are well informed. It’s the people who have all of their money at Scotia bank or under a mattress who “know not that they know not”. It’s the shareholders who are best able to determined what’s in their own financial interest, not the government or rum shop economists. What’s next; is the government going to start telling home and landowners how much they can sell their property for?
Ref: Proposed Neal & Massy/Barbados Shipping & Trading merger!
Hope this post sheds some light while creating some balance on the above mentioned merger transaction. As a regular listener to the program “Down to Brass-tacks” online; Wednesday 11th July was no exception.
Mr. Hilford Murrell openned the program agreeing with BSE for halting the exercising of transactions on BS&T shares by saying, “He regretted they reopened the Exchange after the announcement because it brought about an increase in the share price because of speculation.” What’s wrong with that? After all, isn’t that what a “free market system” is all about. Here is my greater concern:
Apparently some people are now noticing that “free market” economics in CSME (as it is currently understood) and national stability can in fact be in conflict. It doesn’t have to, the free market should only exist between the CSME countries and the ideology of it (aka liberalism) should not be determinative of policy vis-à-vis the “global economy.” The global economy should always be dealt with from the perspective of what promotes our national independence, stability and security.
Here in the United States of America it was President Ronald Reagan that put the Committee on Foreign Investment in United States (CIFIUS) legislation in place a masterful piece of legislation I might add. The CIFIUS process allows the President to block a Merger and/or Acquisition that is not in the United States’ interest.
Frankly I am disappointed to hear that in this day in age, I’m hearing that there is not that kind of legislation in place in Barbados; hopefully this will happen soon.
This law also allowed for and anticipates Congressional and public pressure to be put on the White House, so this “done deal” I’ve heard about is addressed.
Still, this sad fact would allow for a non Barbados Company to be running the largest employer beside government to be in charge and according to them, take the “Headquarters” to Trinidad. Sure, it’s a CSME company who will own and run things, but BS&T should be considered a national asset of sorts and not be ceded like this, even to our “allies”.
Speaking of G H Adams, E W Barrow, or better yet, J M G M “Tom” Adams, this would not have been allowed to happen as a matter of policy, and as recent founders would have bequeath this law to us.
Very simply, why even take the chance of compromising our stability by allowing a company/government to control ANYTHING as important and as fragile to the economy of Barbados from outside? (Neal &Massy in their announcement said, they will move the headquarters to Trinidad), not to mention being the biggest employer beside government. I want to believe that there are people a lot smarter than I who are making these decisions and still care more about securing our country than they do the almighty dollar or appearing to be fair.
I’m hoping this turns out right…
demarlehole~thanks for your comment. We are not sure that you are aware that even if Barbados had the equivalent CIFIUS legislation in place the reality is that the government of Barbados with the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Minister with direct responsibility, Lynette Eastmond and the Junior Minister of Finance have all been the biggest advocates for the merger to date.
So who would invoke the legislation if it were on the books we ask?
CIFIUS focuses on national security threats (mostly preventing advanced technology from falling into “enemy” hands). They have therefore raised objections to only a handful of m & a’s. As for “national stability”, we are not dealing with corporate raiders (Ivan Bosky or Michael Milken are nowhere to be found). Sound business considerations will guide the management of BS&T not partisan Trini politics. The PNM isn’t buying BS&T.