It’s a go

Judge lifts temporary BHL injunction

That was the ruling handed down by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson this evening, bringing an end to the temporary injunction brought by ANSA McAL Limited against Brazilian beverages giant Ambev, which had halted the sale of Banks Holdings Limited’s (BHL) shares.

Calling it a “a win for shareholders” shortly after the verdict was delivered, BHL’s attorney Barry Gale told members of the media they were overjoyed with the result.

“The decision was that the injunction not be continued. The immediate result of that is that the bidding process will continue.

“We are delighted that shareholders will now have the opportunity of deriving benefits from the sale of their shares in a competitive bidding process. We see this mainly as a victory for the shareholders of Banks,” a smiling Gale said at 8:40 p.m. in an interview on the steps of the Supreme Court.

“ANSA McAL and AmBev are shareholders, but there are also 3998 other shareholders out there who are looking forward to some profits on their shares. The shares were trading at $2.50 on average and now they are being offered $6 and that is a substantial premium. There are a lot of shareholders out there who are looking forward to a handsome payday in this bidding process.”

Flanked by Chief Executive Officer of BHL Richard Cozier and Interim chairman of BHL’s Special Committee Chris DeCaires, Gale said it had been a tough three days in court.

“We worked from 8 o’ clock last night until 8 o’ clock tonight. It was a very strongly contested application and there were three parties to it . . . so that’s why it took so long,” he explained.

He insisted that the result would not affect BHL.

About 15 minutes later, a disappointed Nicholas Mouttet, President and CEO of ANSA McAL Barbados walked through the doors of the Supreme Court, accompanied by his legal team.

Nicholas Mouttet
Nicholas Mouttet

And while he admitted he was disheartened by the ruling, he said there were still other matters that needed to be addressed.

ANSA McAL was expected to appeal the decision.

“We are disappointed because we were in our view looking out for the shareholders and so we were very proud to do that, and we had obviously hoped it would have gone a little differently,” Mouttet conceded.

“But it is important to understand that this is really just about the injunction. It is not the substantive matter, which is the matter concerning the clause in the SLU agreement and the fact that we think it is oppressive . . . but that is a different matter.

“We will regroup and we will consider our options. We are not ready to say where we will go next, but we will consider our options,” he added.

Moutett said in the meantime, although the injunction had been lifted, ANSA McAL’s offer of $6 a share, which to date has been the highest offer, “remains unconditionally”.

The decision followed two straight days of marathon court sessions, which began on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day’s proceedings, which began at 11:45 a.m., Trinidadian Senior Counsel Reginald Armour delivered a five-hour reply.

It meant that BHL’s attorney Barry Gale was also given an opportunity to reply and his brief submission came to an end around 6:25 p.m. after which Sir Marston departed to his chambers to deliberate.

He returned some 40 minutes later, but it would be a further hour later before the parties emerged from Court No. 1.

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