Duprey criticises assets sale

PORT OF SPAIN — Former executive chairman of the collapsed CL Financial conglomerate (CLF) Lawrence Duprey is criticising the sale of select assets of the empire he created.

The government has invited potential buyers to bid on two of the conglomerate’s malls – Valpark Shopping Plaza in Valsayn and Atlantic Plaza in Point Lisas – as well as the Holiday Inn Express, its hotel at Trincity.

The assets are owned by Home Construction Ltd (HCL), a subsidiary of CLF.

Duprey, in a brief cellphone interview yesterday, told the Express all the assets were assembled “with a plan in place” and “to take one piece out” would cause the empire to collapse.

Duprey, who lives in Florida, USA, expressed concern about the prices and the parties which the assets were being sold to but declined to explain.

CLF officials have indicated to the Express that the company was hoping to raise some $300 million from the assets.

Finance Minister Larry Howai has said the Government’s bill for the bailout of CLF subsidiary CLICO was estimated at $19 billion.

“The management don’t know what they are doing,” Duprey said but was reluctant to offer any advice to the Gerald Yetming-chaired CLF conglomerate.

“I have no concern with CLICO. I am on to other things,” he said.

But the offer for sale of the malls and hotel, which was not advertised publicly, has left some investors upset.

Several investors and businessmen complained to the Express that select businessmen were being favoured to control certain commercial spaces to the exclusion of other interested parties.

“They are saying their intent is not to have a distress sale but that is exactly what they are doing when you look at the money they hoping to get for those properties,” one investor told the Express yesterday.

HCL had retained advisory firm Ernst and Young to invite selected parties to bid on the properties. It was done a few weeks ago with the CLF board expected to meet today to determine the bids.

“It has been very difficult to get information from CLF. It is not about the price but about the process. There are a lot of assets and it should have been advertised properly. No one knows what is for sale. It reeks of cabal. The price will be tested by the market once the asset is advertised. So ultimately it is about the process which is followed,” another irate investor, who did not want to be identified, told the Express. (Express)

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