BCB Holdings, which was officially listed on the T&T Stock Exchange last week, was formerly known as BB Holdings Ltd. It underwent a name change in May 2009. In February 2009, Belize Bank Ltd, changed its name to British Caribbean Bank Ltd, and operates in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In June 2009, Belize Bank International Ltd changed its name to British Caribbean Bank International Ltd. It is based in Belize and operates internationally.
The group's equity investment comprises about 24.8 per cent of Grupo Agroindustrial CB, SA, and related companies, (Numar), which have interests in agro-processing and distribution operations, principally in Costa Rica. BCB Holdings Ltd is the parent company of a group of financial services businesses operating in Belize and the Turks and Caicos Islands. BCB Holdings has stated that its ambition is "to be the banking and financial services provider of choice in the Caribbean region.
The banking services offered by BCB International, which has relationships with Bank of America and Citibank, include:
�2 deposit accounts in multiple currencies: US, Canadian, the UK pound and the euro
�2 flexible types of loan facilities
�2 credit, debt and prepaid cards
�2 online stock trading
�2 online banking
�2 online merchant acquiring
�2 company formation and administration
According to BCB Holdings' 2009 annual report, through Belize Corporate Services Ltd and affiliated companies, BCB International offers Belize International Business Company (Belize IBC) formation and maintenance, along with complementary administrative and ancillary services. "A Belize IBC is a legal entity similar to the United States-based corporation or limited liability company and now enjoys total exemption from all forms of taxation in Belize," the report stated. "As of March 2009, Belize Corporate Services has over 16,000 companies under management."
BCB Holdings owns 24.8 per cent of Numar, which owns edible oil processing and distribution operations and palm seed plantations in Central America. The company is engaged in the production and distribution of edible oils, margarine, industrial oils and animal field. In fiscal 2009, earnings from its parent in Numar increased by 20.3 per cent to US$23.2 million from US$19.1 million in 2008. "Numar's profits were driven by the continued high world market prices for crude palm oil over most of the year," the report stated. Numar's investment strategy was to focus on increased production facilities in low cost areas, which its management is now convinced was well timed. Sales increased by 22.8 per cent to US$518.5 million in fiscal 2009 from US$422.1 million in fiscal 2008, with net income increasing from US$79.1 million to US$95.6 million.
The effects of the global financial crisis did not escape Numar. World palm oil prices fell in late 2008 to close the year with an average price of US$503 per metric tonne compared with prices for most of the year at more than US$1,100 per metric tonne. Prices are back to more than US$750 per metric tonne, almost a 50 per cent increase since December 2008. Numar's operations include vertically integrated operations, beginning with palm oil seeds and clones, plantations, extraction, refining, and selling and distribution of consumer branded products. Numar also has a highly active seed research and production programme. Numar sells oil palm seed internationally, including to Indonesia, the largest world producer of palm oils.
According to the annual report, "In January 2008, the bank reached a settlement with the government of Belize concerning a debt owed to the bank by Universal Health Services Company Ltd. This debt was guaranteed by the government. "By the bank having required by the Central Bank of Belize to credit the account of the government with monies received from the Venezuelan government, the government is in breach of its legal obligation under the 2008 settlement agreement, and the bank is entitled to damages resulting from the government's breach. "The bank is vigorously pursuing its claims against the government through the Appeals Board in Belize and through arbitration in London and, having received the advice of external advisers, expects to recover its claims in full."
"During the year, the group utilised the consultancy services of Bearwood Services Ltd, a United Kingdom company in which Lord Ashcroft has an interest. The aggregate fees paid to Bearwood by the company for the year ended March 31, 2009, amounted to US$0.3 million (2008–US$0.9 million)," according to the annual report. Lord Michael Ashcroft is the executive chairman of BCB Holdings Ltd.
At March 31, BCBH held investments of US$2.4 million in annuities issued by Clico Trinidad, maturing in December 2009. "During 2008, Clico's investment portfolios became materially impaired as a result of the global financial crisis, resulting in some branches being placed under court supervision. "Based on assurances given in public announcements on the financial position of Clico by the Government of T&T, in which it was stated Clico's obligations would be met in full, the company expects to recover the investment and no provision against recovery has been made," stated BCB Holdings 2009 annual report.
�2 Lord Michael Ashcroft, KCMG, executive chairman (Belizean)
�2 Dr Euric Bobb, non-executive director, (Trinidadian)
�2 Peter Gaze, chief financial officer (British)
�2 Lyndon Guiseppi, chief executive officer (Trinidadian)
�2 Philip Johnson, deputy chairman (Belizean)
�2 Wendell Mottley non-executive director (Trinidadian)
�2 Philip Osborne, director and company secretary (British)
�2 Cheryl Jones, non-executive director (American)
�2 John Searle, non-executive director (Belizean)
About Lord Ashcroft
Lord Michael Anthony Ashcroft, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, was born March 4, 1946. He is an international businessman, philanthropist and politician. He was made a life peer in 2000, and is a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. He holds British and Belizean nationality and is a belonger of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Belonger is a classification normally associated with British overseas territories. Ashcroft was ranked 65th in the Sunday Times' Rich List 2008, with an estimated personal wealth of �1,110 million. Ashcroft chairs BCB Holdings–(listed on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM)–which has interests in facilities services, finance and telecommunications.
BCB Holdings is the parent company of The Belize Bank, which formerly held a majority stake in Belize Telemedia Ltd until it was nationalised by the government of Belize. The controversial Ashcroft–who has donated funds to political parties in the UK and Australia, and to universities, among other institutions and causes–has interests in the parent company of SpeedNet, Belize's only rival telecommunications company. Ashcroft, who travels in a private Learjet, also has significant interests in the following companies quoted on the AIM: Mavinwood, Carlisle, OneSource, Corporate Services Group, Watford, London Town, Digital Marketing, Global Health.