Hold it!

Retired trade union leader Dennis Clarke is totally against the planned take over of Barbadian-owned Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) by outside investors.

In fact, he said, if the current bid was successful, it would be nothing short of a “sad” development.

Clarke, who stepped aside as General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) earlier this year after decades in the trade union movement, also expressed fear that the impending move would lead to further retrenchment in the private sector at a time when the country is already grappling with high unemployment.

Among those bidding for control of BHL are the Trinidad-based Ansa McAl and the St Lucia-based SLU Beverages Ltd.

Clarke is also concerned about what a take over would mean for small Barbadian shareholders in BHL.

“For me I think it is a sad time. I guess the people with the large shares in it, they will profit, but what happens to the common individual who had a little 10 shares here, and a little 20 shares there, when they [BHL] put shares up for sale and encouraged Bajans back in the 1960s to buy?” he asked.

Though accepting of the fact that “everything is for a time” and therefore change was inevitable, he said he remained hopeful that the institution could remain in Barbadian hands and that the jobs of locals could be guaranteed.

At the same time, he lamented the gradual disappearance of indigenous Barbadian enterprises saying his wish was that Barbados could hold onto BHL and not allow it to suffer the same fate as firms such as the former Barbados National Bank and Barbados Shipping & Trading, which are now owned by Trinidadian conglomerates.

“I believe that we should hold on to that institution (BHL) and don’t let it end up like how we have lost the national bank,” the former union boss advised.

“When you go through the Caribbean you find the various islands have their own national banks operating; we do not have one; and I believe that Banks Holdings Limited, . . . we should have been able to hold on it . . . and get majority shareholding or pretty near to it,” he contended.

The veteran trade unionist said before “you [would] pass by the shop in the district and hear a man boasting he had shares in Banks [BHL], but wondered aloud how such an individual would be feeling today.

“I would have loved to see that institution remain [with] the majority Barbadian shareholding] ,” said Clarke, adding that some foreign shareholders don’t really think much about the citizens of Barbados.

Clarke also warned that “in most hostile take overs, you will see that there is a downsizing.

“They [investors] hide behind the word deficiencies and therefore you are going to find that is what is going to happen. … I would hope not. But if I look at the pattern across the United States and Britain and those places, I fear that that is what might occur. I don’t want it, but I say that’s a fear that I have,” the former NUPW general secretary said.

SLU Beverages Ltd first announced the proposed take over bid of BHL earlier this month, having already helped finance construction of the new brewery at Newton, Christ Church, more than five years ago – and in the process became BHL’s single largest shareholder.

But earlier this week, Ansa McAl countered by offering a much better deal for the remaining shareholders of $5.20.


5 Responses to Hold it!

  1. Beverley Greaves
    Beverley Greaves October 22, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Go shut to hell up!-when u were paid to speak, u were under the sheets-noone cares about nothing u have to say now. Jus fade to hell away into the sunset!

  2. Philip Corbin October 22, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I sincerely thought that we had heard the last of Denis Clarke when he retired from the NUPW. He was not a good trade union leader and he is even worse as a commentator on business. What is hostile about ANSA making an offer to the shareholders of BHL. Clearly he doesn’t understand the term ‘ hostile ‘ in corporate acquisitions. Clarke should also retire from commenting on anything that is of interest to others.

  3. Tony Webster October 22, 2015 at 9:53 am

    @Phillip C. My sentiments exactly. He had all the time, authority to do his duty to those he ostensibly supported. Now, he seeks to craft some relevance, some legacy? He is, and will remain, a “sad” footnote, to history, and to opportunities squandered.

  4. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner October 22, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Barbados so soldout wonder if parliment building and government house next to be sold maybe even a name change for the lil island.

  5. jrsmith October 23, 2015 at 6:15 am

    @, Rawle, S, and others, hail, hail, every one is on the button. as I am always saying, Barbados is there for the taking but ,not by bajans. we love history, but the retired leader , has none to reflect on and most of the others are in the same boat.

    Bajans, we must wake up smell the coffee, its with us, and its called , political corporate corruption, . revisit Clico. check , the difference T&T Clico. these happenings , isn’t overnight. a lot more is in the making , taking. beyond us control. (them and us).


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