The Caribbean headquarters of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank in Barbados is now known as the Michael Mansoor Building.
The naming of the Warrens, St. Michael main corporate offices in honour of the bank’s retiring executive chairman, coincides with the regional financial institution’s 10th anniversary.
During a prestigious ceremony attended by the who’s who in finance and business, various speakers, including Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, highlighted the achievements of the bank, particularly under the leadership of Mansoor during the past decade.
“The name Michael Mansoor is already synonymous with the achievements of FirstCaribbean International Bank during its first 10 years of operation in the Caribbean. It is therefore appropriate that today, on so special an occasion, the headquarters of this unique Caribbean institution, be named after a true son of the soil of the region, as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, at a crucial turning point in the history of the Caribbean,” declared Stuart.
Noting that FirstCaribbean was the product of the merger of three “powerful” cultural forces in 2002, he acknowledged that its Canadian-based parent company, CIBC, had recently been classified the third strongest bank in the world, adopting a “truly” Pan-Caribbean perspective from the moment of its arrival here.
The head of Government also suggested that one of the forces which gave birth to FirstCaribbean was the regional integration movement.
“I am fully committed to the integration of the countries of this region, not only because of my current role as the head of government responsible for the Single Market and Economy in CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet, but because it is patently obvious that the relatively small countries of the region, with so much in common, need to unite, if we are to survive and prosper in a globalised world distinguished at this time, by dizzying change,” stated the political leader of the ruling Democratic Labour Party.
The Prime Minister told his distinguished audience, which included President and Chief Executive Officer from the Canadian parent company, Gerald McCaughey, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. Delisle Worrell, the Governor of the East Caribbean Central Bank, Sir Dwight Venner, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and regional construction magnate, Sir Charles Wiliams, that the benefits of integration were too important to be left to chance.
“It is for these reasons that, despite the occasional set-backs, the countries of the region have moved towards deeper and wider integration,” Stuart added. He reasoned that the social environment of the 1990s was ripe for a banker to take a leadership role in the birth of this regional financial institution, noting that history had summoned Mansoor, “a truly Caribbean man who embodied the spirit of unity and empowerment that characterised the modern Caribbean”.
During last night’s ceremony, Prime Minister Stuart was joined by McCaughey and the Chief Executive Officer of FirstCaribbean, Rik Parkhill, in unveiling the name, which read The Michael Mansoor Building. The attendees were also treated to a stirring musical rendition by the CIBC FirstCaribbean Choir, of Kareen Clarke’s Caribbean Broascasting Union’s song contest winning number, United In The Caribbean.
However, the guest of honour had the final say and did not miss the opportunity to offer some “wise” advice regarding a way out of the current economic turmoil facing Barbados and other Caribbean states.
“If we do not improve our game, our best days may well be behind us, rather than ahead of us. To be clear, we are not the only people on the planet in these difficulties,” Mansoor suggested.
“We have to move heaven and earth to create a climate of welcome for investors, both Caribbean and international. We must make the decisions to improve energy security and cost, and there are opportunities in the modernisation of geothermal resources in, say, Dominica; greater use of natural gas brought to the smaller islands by pipeline or in compressed form.” Recalling that the region was once major producers of agricultural staples, he felt it might be time now to “bring all the learning and expertise that exists at the UWI to market”.
CIBC FirstCaribbean has a staff of about 3,400, assets of more than $22 billion, with more than 100 branches, 22 banking centres and seven offices in 17 regional markets. [email protected]