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Activist Peter Permell: Minority shareholders changed Alphonso’s mind

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Minority shareholder activist Peter Permell told the Guardian yesterday he believes that up to Monday morning, FCB chairperson Nyree Alfonso had intentions of submitting herself for re-election, but all this changed when she saw the reaction of minority shareholders during the bank’s annual general meeting at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port-of-Spain.



“During the AGM, she realised she was not in (the) favour of the shareholders and then decided not to present herself for re-election. I believe it was the Minister of Finance, represented by the corporation sole, who made the decision not to support her re-election,” he said. Permell said Monday’s AGM was “part one” and he believes that the special general meeting to be held within 30 days will be “part two.”


“It is my assessment that the remaining seven directors will be removed when the next special general meeting is held. This is what we have been calling for, which is the removal of the entire board,” he said. Corporation sole also did not support the re-election of Marlene Juman, permanent secretary in the Office of the Attorney General. Permell said he was not surprised and said the corporation sole on behalf of the Minster of Finance took a “principled stand.”


“Juman was part of the decision-making process, so they could not remove three directors and leave her. She had to go too. If he had left her, people would have said this is all political,” he said. He added that Finance Minister Larry Howai is trying to rebuild confidence in the bank, and banks survive on confidence. “The minister is trying to re-engender confidence. That is why we are saying that the rest of the board must go,” he said.


Dr Dax Driver, chief executive officer of the Energy Chamber, said the First Citizens Bank (FCB) initial public offering (IPO) was a success as it gave many small shareholders an opportunity to buy shares in the bank. “FCB’s IPO was a success as thousands of people now have shares and this is good for the economy,” he said. Driver was speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony of Energy Chamber’s Corporate Governance Toolkit Launch at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain.


He encouraged the Government to continue with its plans for IPOs for other state-controlled institutions. Earlier this year, the Government has promised to go ahead with an IPO for Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd and the T&T Home Mortgage Bank. “We urge the Government to push ahead with other IPOs,” Driver said. Finance Minster Larry Howai told the media after the function he agreed with Driver’s position.


“I agree with what he said. I think everyone would have been saying, at least up to December, that it was a success judged on the basis of the performance and the demand for the shares. Overall, it was a good IPO,” Howai said.


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