Shareholders approve Sagicor move to Bermuda

The “wildest dreams” of financial services company Sagicor Financial Corporation (SFC) have been realized as shareholders tonight gave the nod, by way of a majority vote, for the company to relocate its headquarters to Bermuda.

The “wildest dreams” of financial services company Sagicor Financial Corporation (SFC) have been realized as shareholders tonight gave the nod, by way of a majority vote, for the company to relocate its headquarters to Bermuda.

And chairman Stephen McNamara said the process should be completed before yearend.

However, describing it as a “bittersweet moment”, McNamara told journalists at the end of a near three-hour meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre tonight, he was happy with the outcome.

“The resolution was passed by a majority of the shareholders. A majority, which I think not only exceeded our dreams, but the wildest of our dreams. Actually, we had anticipated perhaps a slightly rougher ride, but it all went over very smoothly,” he said.

The company was seeking a two-thirds majority vote from shareholders to proceed with its redomiciliation.

The company first announced its intention to relocate its Barbados headquarters in January last year, following Standard & Poor’s downgrade 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 on the heels of the lowering of Barbados’ sovereign rating to B from BB- by the same international ratings agency, less than two weeks prior.

Company officials had also announced that three jurisdictions – Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and Bermuda – were chosen as the most favourable jurisdictions to redomicile. However, after careful research by experts, Bermuda was chosen.

For tonight’s meeting, the company had catered for about 400 shareholders and at the end McNamara reported “the room was almost full”.

He said only two people dissented and “the majority” were in favour of the move “because there were no abstentions”.

“It suggests that the explanations that we had given for the move were accepted by the majority of the shareholders. And so we are where we are at this point.

“It is a bitter-sweet moment because as we all know the company was founded in Barbados. It is 175-years-old and so it is a bit of a wrench and there were some emotions involved, but at the end of the day I think it is the right decision for the company and its shareholders,” he said.

“I think it is going to be fairly rapid from now. I mean the whole thing was conditioned on the shareholders’ approval. Now that has been obtained our legal advisors and other advisors have indicated that the process now can be fairly rapid. So it won’t be very long before we have it sorted . .  .

“Unless something I am unaware of intervenes, I am pretty sure it will be before year end,” McNamara added.

He again gave the assurance that the Barbados operations would remain and that officials would come to the island for their meetings.

“There will still be in the jolly old Wildey building. We will not be going anywhere. That was the beauty of the Bermuda listing. It allows us to do all these things as before. We just have SFC Limited in Bermuda with a representative there to fulfill their needs, but everything else carries on. Barbadians will see no difference in their day-to-day connection with Sagicor on the ground here in Barbados and indeed in the other territories where Sagicor operates. So they need not be worried,”  he added.

marlonmadden@barbadostoday.bb

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