Wednesday 16 October, 2019

NCB gets nod from Trinidad gov’t for Guardian takeover bid

From left to right: NCB Financial Group deputy CEO Dennis Cohen and CEO Patrick Hylton.

From left to right: NCB Financial Group deputy CEO Dennis Cohen and CEO Patrick Hylton.

NCB Financial Group, through its subsidiary, NCB Guardian Holdings (NCBGHL) has received a licence from the Trinidad and Tobago government, under the country's Foreign Investment Act. 

The licence, which was issued on Tuesday allows for NCBGHL to acquire full control of Guardian Holdings Limited (GHL), which translates to 74,230,750 shares in GHL.

NCB now awaits a determination on requests made for a controlling shareholder permit, the company said in a notice on the Jamaica Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

It will issue a further release by May 3, which is the new extended closing date for the bid.

NCB last delayed the closing of the offer to April 30 in order to comply with regulatory concerns raised by Trinidad’s Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

Imbert on Tuesday, according to media reports, said he "welcomed this direct foreign investment in our local financial services sector, especially by a company with Caribbean connections, and wishes all concerned all the best in their future endeavours”.

NCB already owns the largest block of shares (69,547,241), representing 29.99 per cent of GHL. 

The company first launched a takeover bid for Guardian at the end of 2017 with the intent to grow its stake to 62 per cent but had to postpone the transaction to settle a dispute over pricing with minority owners. 

For NCB, the Guardian takeover is aligned with the group’s plans to reduce its concentration in Jamaica, and further, expand regionally. 

NCB deputy CEO Dennis Cohen reaffirmed that commitment, noting that the Guardian acquisition would help.

“We want to be the premier institution in the region. We are on a mission to achieve that goal,” NCB's deputy CEO Dennis Cohen said last Friday. 

He added: "Once we have a stake in Guardian, which is in 20 territories. I think that will help.”

The acquisition would place NCBFG as the regional banking powerhouse second only to CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank. However, the financial institution has had numerous setbacks with the takeover.

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