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Trinidad: Government denies blocking attempt by Jamaica company to acquire GHL

By CMC

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Colm Imbert

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 20, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government says it is not being putting in place measures that would serve to block attempts by the NCB Global Holdings Ltd of Jamaica (NCBJ) to acquire the Trinidad and Tobago-based Guardian Holdings Limited (GHL).

In a statement, Finance Minister Colm Imbert described as “erroneous” a newspaper article “alleging that the Ministry of Finance’s “failure” to grant regulatory approval for the proposed takeover has “forced” NCBJ to extend its offer to acquire a controlling interest in GHL to April 30, 2019”.

Imbert said that the article also denied that the Ministry of Finance is a “stumbling block” to the transaction.

“Nothing can be further from the truth,” he said, adding that the newspaper “must be aware that uninformed reporting can have serious consequences”.

He said he wanted to “make it clear, that as part of its take-over bid, the NCBJ is obligated, among other things, to obtain a Foreign Investment Licence from the Minister of Finance, pursuant to the Foreign Investment Act Chap. 70:07.

“The Ministry of Finance, therefore, cannot be pejoratively described as a “stumbling block”, since it is one of the regulatory authorities that must by law approve the transaction, and it must do so with impartiality, and with fairness to all concerned.”

Imbert said that it is “ noteworthy that before extending the time for the offer, NCBJ unilaterally fixed its own deadline of February 7, 2019 for the approval by the regulatory agencies of its takeover bid. “However, the application for a Foreign Investment Licence was only sent by NCB’srepresentatives directly to the Minister of Finance on February 5th, 2019, two days before this deadline, without all necessary supporting documentation”

Imbert said as soon as he had received the document, he started reviewing the application and it became evident that further documentation was required.

“The reality is that the Ministry has been actively engaging with the applicant’s attorneys to obtain all required information, in order to allow the Minister of Finance to make an informed decision.

“Further to the initial application, because of gaps in the information supplied, additional information has been requested from the applicant. The Ministry is now reviewing the most recent responses which were only submitted on February 15th 2019… by the applicant’s attorneys.

“This matter is therefore still being engaged by all parties,” Imbert said, adding that it was “irresponsible” for the newspaper to have indicated that the government was holding up the transactions “ when in truth and in fact, the application was only sent to the Minister two days before the deadline, without all required supporting documentation.

“It is to be noted that the Minister of Finance has a public duty to carefully consider all of the facts surrounding the application before making his decision,” he added.

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