Minister says Sagicor move no big deal
Sagicor Financial Corporation’s plan to move its headquarters from Barbados is not bad for the island and only makes way for another homegrown insurance company to step in.
Those positions were put forward by Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman who said he was not bothered by the pending departure.
The St Lucy MP even went as far as suggesting that Sagicor was ungrateful to Barbados.
The company last week announced its intention to re-domicile following Standard & Poor’s downgrading of Sagicor Life’s rating from“BB+”, to “BB-” and Sagicor Finance Ltd’s US$150 million, ten-year senior unsecured notes to “B” from “BB-”.
This came 11 days after the agency lowered Barbados’ sovereign rating to “B” from “BB-”.
Addressing the Democratic Labour Party’s St James North branch meeting last night, Kellman said: “I do not see what Sagicor is doing as a negative to Barbados, as I see it as an opportunity for another insurance company to come and be launched and we can get back our own insurance company.”
Kellman challenged the company’s explanation for its decision to move its headquarters to Trinidad, the United States or the United Kingdom.
S&P had informed Sagicor that its rating could be upgraded if it completed plans to relocate to a country with at least investment grade ratings, strong regulations and adequate access to funding. Last week, Sagicor Financial Corporation’s Group President Dodridge Miller confirmed the company’s board agreed to move its country of domicile, possibly by the end of this year, and said that based on Barbados’ continuing downgrades and the possibility of similar future action, the company had been considering the move for some time.
However, Kellman accused Sagicor of leaving even after the Govenrment of Barbados gave it a helping hand in time of need.
“The first company in Barbados [to be affected], even before the Government knew anything about [an international economic] meltdown was Sagicor and the Government stood by Sagicor up to today,” Kellman said.
“So when I am hearing people from Sagicor making the point that they are leaving Barbados because of the economic situation. I say to you that cannot be right, because prior to 2008, when the economic crisis came, the first casualty was Sagicor but we stood by them. We did not put them in the Press, we did not run away from them . . . and we ensured that we gave them the returns that they wanted on the investments.”
Charging that “Sagicor is more owned by the Trinidadians than Barbadians”, Kellman contended that “if the largest shareholdership in Sagicor by logic is not in Barbados, what is going on in Barbados could not affect Sagicor to the effect to cause them to have to leave”.
“If their main investments are outside of Barbados . . . it cannot be Barbados.”