The Freundel Stuart administration wants Sagicor to stay, with acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy hinting at an invitation for the company to engage Government in a discussion regarding its decision to move its headquarters from Barbados.
And if it does move and becomes unhappy with its new home, Sealy has told the insurance giant that it is free to return to Barbados.
The company announced in January that it planned to move its headquarters from Barbados due to Standard & Poor’s downgrading of Sagicor Life’s rating from BB+ to BB- and Sagicor Finance Ltd’s US$150 million ten-year senior unsecured notes to B from BB-.
And in a subsequent media conference Group President and Chief Executive Officer Dodridge Miller said three countries were under consideration – Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom – with a final decision to be made following analysis of several conditions. These included the sustainability of the ratings of these countries, the taxation impact on shareholders, the ease of the process to re-domicile, the ability to move funds across different geographies and enabling legislation.
Miller said at the time the process was a complex one and he estimated that it could be completed by the first quarter in 2016 once a decision was taken and shared with shareholders.
However, addressing the company’s 175th anniversary cocktail reception at the Fusion Restaurant at Limegrove last evening, Sealy said there was no reason Government and the company could not “engage in some discussion” about some of the realities that they faced.
“I don’t want to talk shop necessarily, but permit me to say while we understand decisions have to be taken in the interest of protecting your shareholders, you will have to allow me to say you make your decisions and you do what you have to do.
“But we sincerely hope that when you go where you think you need to go, remember you are free to light your candle and come back home anytime,” the acting Prime Minister said.
He said Sagicor was “usually at the front of the line” to take up Government papers and to support the administration in its efforts and financial needs, and commended the company on its longevity, which he attributed it to visionary leadership, commitment and determination of staff and a willingness to embrace change.
However, he also called on the insurance giant to reflect on the fact that it was established on “good, earthy, solid Barbadian tradition and values” 175 years ago and that is what has kept the company going.
“So through all the changing scenes of life, the basic principles of thrift and conservative management have actually served the company extremely well, as of course it has now become a major Caribbean player and is even impacting extra-regionally.”
During the reception a number of former chief executive officers and chairmen, including Colin Goddard, J Arthur Bethell, Sir Douglas Lynch, David Allan and Terry Martins were recognized for their service to the company.
Chairman of Sagicor Stephen McNamara said during the company’s 175- year history it went through many highs and lows including “recession, natural disasters, expansion and rebirth” and that as a result the company was now “well equipped to handle whatever is ahead”.
And he said as Sagicor looked forward to its bicentenary it would, through its group of companies, continue to focus on what was right for customers, shareholders, investors and the wider community. (MM)