Cable & Wireless West Indies Limited, which trades here as Flow, has been taken to court by a group of former shareholders.
Acting on behalf of the Cable & Wireless Minority Shareholders Group, Queen’s Counsel Garth Patterson this morning filed a claim in the High Court in a class action against the directors of the utility company.
Ricky Went, one of those spearheading the lawsuit, told reporters on the sidelines of the monthly business luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at Hilton Barbados Resort this afternoon that when C&W merged with other utility entities, the minority shareholders were effectively locked out of the company.
“As it stands now, the current decision that has been taken would mean that shareholders who were involved in the company would no longer be involved. The shares have been effectively cancelled,” Went, who is regional advisor for Axel Finance said, adding that if this trend were allowed to continue, other companies could follow suit, resulting in the closure of the local stock market.
He warned that the situation had implications for the country’s children and the island in general.
Another person spearheading the legal action is prominent chartered accountant Douglas Skeete.
Skeete, who accompanied White this afternoon, told reporters they were looking for at least 1,000 minority shareholders to be named as claimants in the class action.
“There are a number of remedies which we are asking the court to look at. One of these remedies would be . . . Cable & Wireless would effectively, through the amalgamation of two companies, have bought back the shares of the minority shareholders that own 19 per cent of these shares and have cancelled those shares,” he said, adding that the minority shareholders were not given the opportunity to say whether they wanted to sell or remain as shareholders.
He said that because C&W has abrogated the rights of the minority shareholders, the court was being asked to award damages and to reinstate them as shareholders.
Skeete noted that Cable & Wireless West Indies owns 81 per cent of the shares in the company that has 2,200 shareholders. He explained that there are about 2,000 small shareholders.
He is hoping that this matter, considered urgent, would be heard sometime next week.