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Bid to oust TCL board

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Republic Bank has declined comment on reports that it is among some of large shareholders in Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) seeking to oust the board of the financially troubled cement company. 



According to reports, 18 of TCL’s bigger shareholders, including Republic Bank, the Unit Trust Corporation (UTC), the National Insurance Board (NIB) and Bourne Investment Ltd of Barbados, are trying to force out several members of the current board of directors. Also among those shareholders—all of whom signed documents confirming their participation in a requisition for a meeting to remove the directors—are some of the company’s large individual shareholders, such as Helen Bhagwansingh and Stephen Espinet.



The other major TCL shareholders, who together hold 54.7 per cent of shares, are Tatil Life, a trust fund account controlled by RBC and the company’s largest single shareholder, Mexican cement giant Cemex. 



Yesterday, officials of Republic Bank told the T&T Guardian they would not to comment on the matter. However, word is that the disgruntled shareholders want TCL’s CEO Rollin Bernard, Barbadian Dr Leonard Nurse, Andy Bhajan, Bevon Francis and Brian Young removed as directors and have provided their own list of directors to immediately take control of the company.


The three directors who are not the subject of the requisition are Wayne Yip Choy, Alejandro Cantu of Cemex and Jean Michel Allard of the International Finance Corporation. 



News of the planned ouster was first reported in a trade publication, Global Cement, on Thursday. Global Cement reported that TCL, the Caribbean’s only cement producer, is facing deep financial problems despite the favourable competitive position it holds in most Caricom countries. In Barbados, the Arawak cement plant is the sole cement provider. TCL also operates Caribbean Cement Ltd in Jamaica, while its biggest operation is in T&T.


Problems have been brewing between TCL’s board and shareholders for several months over the company’s poor financial performances.



Earlier this year, TCL announced plans to issue senior secured first lien notes (bonds) not exceeding an aggregate principal amount of US$325 million. The bonds were to be issued approximately 80 per cent in a US dollar tranche, and the remainder in a TT dollar tranche and the proceeds were to be used by the company to repay its debts. However, the TCL board later decided to postpone the refinancing and await more favourable market conditions.


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