We reminded our readers on this editorial page just days ago that Barbados has the capacity to produce top quality business leaders and executives who can manage successful companies.
One of the prime examples of such talent, Mr Dodridge Miller, is taking his exit from Sagicor Financial Company, arguably one of the biggest and most successful financial services companies in the Caribbean.
As we lamented the avalanche of buyouts of Barbadian brands that are falling into the hands of mainly Trinidadian and Jamaican corporate entities, we struggle with the question of why this was happening and whether it pointed to a larger question about the capability of local business leaders to rise to the challenge of operating in a modern and highly competitive business environment.
One also has to examine the price point at which securities on the Barbados Stock Exchange are trading and whether this was creating an environment that makes them prime targets for takeovers by rivals with cash.
National borders have disappeared, and forward-thinking, savvy executives were advising their companies during the pandemic to build their store of cash reserves because the auction block was likely to be filled with good buys that were weakened by the maladies of COVID-19.
In this connection, we learned that another Trinidad and Tobago-based company was trying to get its hands on an important local company.
Like Collins Limited which was acquired by a Trinidad outfit, BICO Limited, another iconic Barbadian brand, is also more than 100-years-old.
In its December 2022 ruling, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), the quasi-judicial body that ensures there is fair competition in the market, blocked the plan by ice-cream rival Creamery Novelties Ltd to take control of BICO.
Of interest, is the fact that BICO also controls the largest cold-storage facility on the island at its Harbour Road headquarters, which plays a major role in the storage of products for several retailers and distributors.
HADCO Group of Companies, wanted to have control of BICO via its Barbados-based subsidiary Caribbean LED Lighting Inc., and would also get control of the cold storage facility.
The HADCO Group owns Creamery Novelties Ltd, the manufacturers of Creamery ice creams, distributed in Barbados by Massy Distribution.
According to the FTC, it believed Barbadian consumers would not be well served if it approved the takeover. It outlined in the ruling it “determined that the merger will result in a substantial lessening of competition”.
It is important also for people to lift the information veil on the corporate activity taking place in boardrooms across the Caribbean, so that we fully understand the national implications of every corporate shuffle.
All this is occurring as Miller, who led Sagicor through several important and strategic moves, will pass the baton on to a Canadian, and the company’s chief financial officer, Andre G. Mousseau.
After more than 30 years with Sagicor, 20 of them in the top leadership role, the Barbadian who hails from the rural parish of St John, grew Sagicor from a mutual company with less than US$100 million in assets to a publicly listed pan-Caribbean company with operations in North America and assets of more than US$10 billion.
That is a significant achievement.
“Sagicor has greatly benefitted from Dodridge’s visionary leadership to become the leading financial services provider in the Caribbean with an exciting growth platform in North America,” said Mahmood Khimji, chairman of Sagicor.
For his part, Miller described Sagicor as a remarkable forward-looking company, served by dedicated and hardworking employees.
While some Barbadians may feel a sense of loss at the fact that Sagicor is now a Canadian corporate entity, they appreciate that corporate decisions were made in the interest of the entity, its shareholders, investors and policyholders.
We salute Mr Miller for his years of service and the example he has set for young Barbadian corporate executives and his contribution to the Caribbean’s financial sector.