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2008 YEAR IN REVIEW – Part 2



The recent downturn in the global economy, exacerbated by weather related shocks, has contributed to the slowing down of the Jamaican economy. This has resulted in GDP being flat for the period, July to September 2008 compared with the corresponding period last year. Declines in output in Agriculture (2.0%) and Construction (1.8%) resulted in the overall flat performance in the Goods Producing sector. Despite the challenges in the Goods Producing sector, Mining & Quarrying was up 6.0%, the first quarterly increase since April – June 2007. Both Electricity & Water Supply (5.9%) and the Finance & Insurance Services (1.5%) sub-sectors within the Services Industry showed growth.

Total tourist arrivals fell by 6.0%. Transport, Storage & Communications also experienced a decline (3.2%) due to a cessation of the operations of major shipping lines out of Jamaica. Remittances remained positive despite the downturn in the global economy.

The performance of the macro economy for the quarter should be interpreted in the context of real appreciation in the exchange rate of 3.7% vis-à-vis the US dollar; a quarterly inflation rate of 4.7% and a fiscal deficit of $16.4 billion.
Post Quarter Prospects
For the calendar year, real GDP growth is forecasted to be within the range of -0.5% – 1.0% due to the continued global economic crisis.
SCJ sold for US$25m – But Jamaica to pump funds back into Brazil Company, give up Petrojam Ethanol Limited
July 4, 2008
The Jamaican Government will apparently receive no cash, but instead get a 25 per cent stake valued at US$25 million (J$1.8 billion) in the vehicle being used by Infinity Bio-Energy, the Brazil-based ethanol manufacturer, to acquire the state-owned sugar company. But as part of the deal, the Government will also hand over the 40-million gallon Petrojam Ethanol plant to Newco Ltd, the Infinity subsidiary that will operate in Jamaica, as well as absorb an estimated J$18 billion of debt owed by the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ), ahead of its divestment.
Jamaican dollar gathers downhill momentum
July 11, 2008
The Jamaican dollar broke through the $72 mark in the past week, and continues to slide, notwithstanding strong interventions and an interest-rate hike by the central bank. The currency closed on the spot market at $72.19 against the US dollar, a new record low, having hit $72.06 last Friday, following a more than six cent decline. The Bank of Jamaica, signalling a positive outlook, said that the most recent movement in the exchange rate is related to payments due to overseas creditors. “This occurred at a time when local banks and other financial institutions have been reducing their exposure to credit lines offered by correspondent banks and investment houses,” said the central bank.
Transport biggest contributor to June inflation – Prices climb 11.5 per cent in six months
July 18, 2008
The cost of living rose substantially in the first half of the year with new data from the Statistical Institute showing inflation at 11.5 per cent, with prices rising faster in the capital than other towns and in the countryside. The new data indicates that prices are growing at an annual rate of 23 per cent, or about two per cent per month. Fiscal inflation is at six per cent, or 24 per cent annualised, well ahead of the projected 14.5 per cent inflation that the central bank has forecast. Last year, six-month calendar inflation was 5.1 per cent, an indication that prices in the current period are advancing at more than twice the pace than the comparative period a year ago. For the month of June, inflation was a flat two per cent, largely pushed by transport costs, as well as higher gas prices, heavier utility bills, fuel and other costs generally associated with running a household.
Capital & Credit again denies it’s up for sale
July 18, 2008
Capital and Credit Financial Group Limited is not only denying what it says are ‘persistent rumours’ that the company is being offered up for sale, but says it is not even in talks with any suitor. The denial, filed via a stock market notice, follows persistent reports over several years that the Ryland Campbell controlled company was on the market and looking for buyers. “Such information is incorrect and not true,” said the company in a statement issued through the Jamaica Stock Exchange yesterday.
Bill Clarke closes Scotia account. October retirement amidst claims of problems with Canada HQ
July 19, 2008
SCOTIABANK Jamaica, moving to scotch swirling rumours that its president and CEO William ‘Bill’ Clarke had been fired, announced that the veteran banker would retire at the end of October. Scotia made the announcement at around 4:00 pm; almost 24 hours after word began circulating that the senior executive had been dismissed after 40 years of service to the organisation. “The Board of the Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited wishes to advise that president and CEO William E Clarke has decided to retire on October 31, 2008,” said the press release. “The board refutes any allegations that Mr Clarke has been separated from the bank.”

MiPhone full speed ahead – $18b remake said on track – Rebranding and 3G network roll-out imminent
August 15, 2008
MiPhone has scoffed at rumours of a retreat, declaring that its multibillion plans to build out its network here were proceeding as planned. But the company did admit that its cell tower project was interrupted over what company spokesman Noel Esty said was a misunderstanding with planning authorities, but declined a full explanation. MiPhone is investing US$250 million (J$18 billion) in a 500 cell towers and a 3G mobile network. The roll-out of the Apple iPhone – which it has exclusive rights to distribute in Jamaica – is contingent on the transformation of its CDMA systems to 3G.
“No man can stop the progress,” said Marketing Manager Noel Esty, as he discounted heavy rumours that the America Movil- owned company had given up on plans to take on big-hitter Digicel Jamaica.
Palace wrestles down debt, taxes to score a profit – Sells old Rialto cinema property
September 12, 2008
Cinema operator Palace Amusement Company has climbed out of the red, shaking off millions in losses last year to post net profit of $15.7 million or $10.75 per share at year end June 30. The company also announced the sale of a non-performing asset, the old Rialto Cinema property in a deal worth $8.5 million. Palace, which is principally controlled by the Graham family, made losses of $5.5 million in 2007, on declining seat sales.
Bad debts grow Analysts, Gov’t continue to gauge effect of fall-out
September 14, 2008
Analysts aren’t able to peg how much the fall out of ‘get-rich schemes’ has fed into the alarming increase in the number of Jamaicans that are not servicing their loans and mortgages. What’s clear, however, is that the pace at which bad debts held by domestic financial institutions have grown over the last year is the highest it has been since the 1990s financial crisis.
Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) data released on Monday, showed that up to June 2008, $7.4 billion in non-performing loans (NPL) – loans in arrears for three months and over – was in the system, an amount equal to the capital budget for education and agriculture combined. It’s up 41 per cent over last year, even as loans grew by half that amount. “This may not be the peak of it,” said financial analyst John Jackson, who closely follows publicly listed companies. “It is something that has to be watched carefully.”
VMBS takes 20 per cent of Prime Asset Management
September 19, 2008
Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), which has been busy attempting to transform itself from a mortgage bank to a broad-based financial services company, yesterday acquired 20 per cent of Prime Asset Management, the pension funds managers controlled by the privately held ICD Group. Both sides confirmed the deal, but declined to disclose how much VMBS paid for a stake in the company which has more than $20 billion (US$250 million) under management.
Ethanol exports, higher poultry prices push Jamaica Broilers Q1 profits
September 19, 2008
Export of ethanol and higher prices for poultry meat boosted both gross income and helped Jamaica Broilers double its net profit, to $180.91 million, in this year’s first quarter, when compared to last year.
But the group’s senior vice-president for operations, Christopher Levy, has suggested that robust performance for the quarter to August 2, may not be sustained, given the recent retreat in ethanol price in the United States. “The ethanol market has been softening for the past two months,” Levy told the Financial Gleaner.

Jamaica’s Top CEOs’ for 2007 by Businessuite
Richard Byles and Patrick Hylton demonstrate staying power

If a CEO makes the list consistently does this make him a better performer than his peers?

Being recognized for one’s leadership prowess is noteworthy, and making “The List” is a testament of organizational performance excellence. List watchers cannot help noting that “The List” is relatively fluid, clearly an indicator of shifts in organizational results over time.

For example, Francis L.A. “Tony” Haynes did not make the list in 2005 and 2006, but entered the 2007 ranking at number one. William McConnell ranked number one for 2006; however he did not make the list for 2007 and 2005. As we have often said, making “The List” is an important achievement; however staying on “The List” is the true test of performance and a demonstrable ability to deliver in today’s volatile marketplace.

For 2006, three CEOs demonstrated this capacity, Patrick Hylton at NCB, Richard Byles at Life of Jamaica, now Sagicor; and Peter Bunting of the former BDG.

For the 2007 list, only two top performing CEO’s retained their positions, Richard Byles was two in 2005, ninth in 2006 and tenth in 2007. Patrick Hylton was tenth in 2005, fourth in 2006 and ninth in 2007.

Francis Haynes named Jamaica’s Top CEO for 2007 by Businessuite

Francis Haynes shot to the top of “The List” with a 576.62% growth in after tax profits of 522,123 million compared to 77,166 in 2006. Under his leadership during the financial year ended December 2007, Carib Cement Company Limited (CCCL) was able to realize positive growth in its net profit for the first time in three years. In 2006, CCCL was forced to briefly suspend the manufacture and sale of its products after the discovery of substandard cement.

In order to meet local demand, the CET was removed, thereby allowing private importers to infiltrate the market. The CET remained on hold throughout the 2007 financial year resulting in continued high volumes of imported cement products. As such, the company’s cement sales were 4% below the 2006 volume even though the market grew by 7%. This coupled with the continued increase in the price of energy and raw materials threatened profitability. However, both revenue and net profit increased by 17% and 477%, respectively, due to price adjustments commensurate with inflation, rigorous cost containment and a significant reduction in sub-par cement claims

Super plus chain contracts – to close a fifth store in Montego Bay, but expand others
October 3, 2008
Super Plus Food Stores Limited is stripping the group of its loss-making stores, and says that the business is attempting to grow revenues by concentrating more on services like its cambio operations. Chief executive officer Wayne Chen said that grocery had become the “loss leader” for the supermarket chain, but gave no specifics on the other business segments that were underperforming. Four stores have been culled from the group, and of the remaining 26, the majority, 22, are controlled by brothers Wayne and Richard Chen, while the others are held by other family members.

MiPhone switches over to Claro
October 10, 2008
America Movil is rebranding MiPhone as ‘Claro’. Boasting improved network coverage and 3G (third generation) GSM technology, Claro is scheduled to launch next month, when the network will unveil its call rates, handsets and costs including the new 3G Apple iPhone, exclusive to the network in Jamaica. The brand will be represented islandwide at 200 stores and dealerships.
Wayne Chen willing to sell
October 10, 2008
Super Plus Food Stores boss Wayne Chen said he would not refuse a good offer for the islandwide family-owned supermarket chain, but says he has not put the company up for sale. Asked outright whether that meant SuperPlus was hunting a buyer, Chen dismissed it, but did not discount it as a future possibility. “Not at all,” he told the Financial Gleaner. “Not in the short term. We are right-sizing the company now,” he added.
Pulse banking on new projects to diversify income
October 24, 2008
In five years, Pulse Investment Limited is projecting that it will add $2 billion to its stream of revenues, and is working to diversify its income beyond the sponsorships and advertising contracts on which it is so heavily reliant. A model and fashion agency, chief executive officer Kingsley Cooper wants to branch out into being agent for sports figures, but in a briefing to financial journalists and analysts last week, he indicated that his plans were most heavily pinned on hospitality through his property, Villa Ronai, which is now being expanded.
Harmony Cove will find capital, says Hylton
October 31, 2008
Chairman of Harmonisation Limited, handlers of the Harmony Cove luxury resort project, Patrick Hylton, is upbeat about financing for the US$2 billion project in the face of a global downturn, saying the project won’t need to tap the browbeaten capital markets for funds. “Remember, the time of the approach to any capital market would be some way off,” said Hylton, who declined to comment on the status of the project. But he also indicated that it was in the interest of investors for the global financial crisis to be handled expeditiously to unfreeze credit.
Junior stock market steers toward early 2009 roll-out
October 31, 2008
Marlene Street-Forrest, general manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), has been selected by Senator Don Wehby to head a steering committee tasked to implement a junior stock market, the Finance Ministry said. The junior exchange, to be managed by the JSE, will open up to small and medium companies the opportunity to raise capital on the equities market through public offerings.
The first thing that hits you when you see the 2008 Honda Accord is the shape, it’s a brand new Honda shape, reminiscent of the 2007/8 BMW 5 series but totally different. Aggressive with style and class are the best words to describe the aerodynamic shape and body styling. For me it was love at first sight. The 3.5 litre v6 test driven was a pleasure to drive; the steering wheel was totally new, neat and compact with the usual standard features, audio and cruise controls. The dash board layout and configuration again reminded me of the BMW, but you know you’re in a Honda.
SUV OF THE YEAR – The 2008 Range Rover Sport HSE
“Effortless on Road……….Legendary off Road
The Range Rover Sport, legendary for it’s off road capabilities and combines well with its on road luxury features, separate it from the rest. Although, known for its outstanding off road capabilities, this is not the kind of vehicle you want to take off road, even if it was engineered to do so. Truth is most Jamaican SUV owners hardly take their vehicles off road. So why buy them? The looks, the prestige and the appearance of doing well – financially. The Range Rover Sport is the kind of vehicle you drive if you want to separate yourselves from the pack. The black 2008 model test driven was pure luxury and certainly was effortless on the road.
PCFS commercial banking arm launched
November 05, 2008
Pan Caribbean Financial Services (PCFS) officially launched its commercial banking arm with five branches nationwide, targeting an existing 15,000-strong customer base. “Banking is personal again, and you are the reason!” deputy chief executive officer Phillip Armstrong told attendees at a reception held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew. Armstrong promised that there would be less hassle in applying for one of the new accounts and that interest would be paid daily on each dollar deposited with the bank.
FSC approves Blue Cross deal – Now it’s all up to Audley Shaw
November 7, 2008
Sagicor Life Jamaica has got the go-ahead from regulators to acquire Blue Cross of Jamaica’s health insurance portfolio, but still needs the imprimatur of Finance Minister Audley Shaw before it can declare the transaction a done deal. “This agreement has been approved by the Financial Services Commission and now awaits a vesting order from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to complete the process which will broaden the service offerings to former Blue Cross clients,” said SLJ Chairman Dodridge Miller in a company statement issued.
Two options for Felicitas: Truck in new sand or wait 100 years
November 7, 2008
Frederick Moe, project manager and partner in the $8 billion Felicitas development, says the project will remain on hold until the 500 truckloads of stolen sand are recovered. But, if the police fail to track down the stolen sand, the investors would have up to a 100-year wait for new sand to grow there, scientists have said.
Received $1.3b in sponsorship during ’08

In Jamaica, Pulse Investments Limited, a Jamaica-based company engaged in activities such as model agency representation, multi-media production, marketing, and show production and promotion, has successfully used bartering to grow revenues and profitability.

For the financial year ended June 30, 2008, the company reported net profit attributable to members of $429,891,292, or diluted earnings per stock unit of 1580 cents on operating revenue of $1,356,745,012, against net profit attributable to members of $266,143,476 or diluted earnings per stock unit of 101 cents on operating revenue of $788,791,615, for the same period a year ago.

Carlton Savannah REIT seeks new identity
November 14, 2008
Jamaica first and only real-estate investment trust, Carlton Savannah REIT Jamaica Limited has opted for a name change months into its start-up, and now wants to be known as Kingston Properties Limited. The change is pending approval from shareholders. Director Fayval Williams said the name change reflected plans for the company to build out a more diversified portfolio of real estate investments.
$1.5b loss hits JP – But Hall promises better times ahead
November 21, 2008
Weighed down by another big gush of red ink in the third quarter, Jamaica Producers Group (JP) has reported a $1.5 billion loss for the 10 months to the first week of October, but the company’s CEO, Jeffrey Hall, insists that shareholders can look forward to better times next year. This year’s loss was $800 million more than the corresponding period in 2007. “We are putting in place a series of realistic, pragmatic measures to cut cost, diversify and grow the profitable part of the business,” he said.
GK sales top $40b, but profit sluggish
November 21, 2008
Conglomerate GraceKennedy Limited reported a slight dip in earnings in the July-to- September quarter, but its nine-month result indicates signs of a company with strong sales and a slightly better profit outturn. GraceKennedy’s bottom line grew 6.7 per cent, from $1.71 billion to $1.83 billion, within the nine-month period when sales topped $40.1 billion (9M 2007: $35b).
In the third quarter, however, net profit slipped from $591 million to $556 million on revenues that were basically flat – moving from $12.4 billion to $12.8 billion. “The world is in a global financial crisis and we need to prepare ourselves. In GraceKennedy we make sure that everything is done in a systematic way,” said Douglas Orane, chairman and chief executive officer of GraceKennedy
PULSE Investments “tenuous at best and unsustainable at worst”
Michelle Hirst, Research Manager, Stocks & Securities Ltd. (SSL) December 2008
Over the past year, the price of Pulse Investments (PULS) shares has more than doubled, increasing by over 148%. Currently, at $5.70 per share, PULS’ market capitalization is J$1.5Bn – more than Radio Jamaica or Salada.
Our work finds that the market is severely overvaluing PULS. Accounting treatments on PULS’ financial statements, especially with regards to in-kind sponsorship, vary significantly from economic reality. Revenues, operating income and assets are all accounted for at levels significantly higher than their true economic value.
In addition, related party transactions such as real estate transfers and excessive management fees are value destructive to public shareholders in our view and are indicative of weak corporate governance more generally.
The sustainability of a business whose primary operation is obtaining sponsorship funds and capturing some of these funds for itself and its shareholders is tenuous at best and unsustainable at worst.
We recommend with conviction that clients SELL shares at current levels and believe that the Company’s fair value is between $0.45 to $0.60 per share.
RJR Group Could Be Facing Clear and Present Danger, Reports State Group Hurting Financially
In a recently emailed report (17/11/08) from Michelle Hirst, Research Manager at Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), headed by Managing Director Mark Croskery, it was noted that RJR started the year well, but has fallen hard during the first six months of 2008-2009, due to the current economic environment. RJR states that revenues from endeavours such as the World Cup qualifiers will be seen in its nine month 2008-2009 results.

SSL is however not convinced of a turnaround anytime soon, stating in its report that “RJR has not been able to contain its costs as they increased across the board in Q02 2008/2009. Therefore, SSL is not convinced that RJR will increase revenues and lower costs in the near future. The stock has a book value per share (BV/Share) of JMD 2.95. It is currently trading at JMD 3.20 with a price to book value (P/BV) of 1.08. RJR has been trending downwards for the past three years decreasing 46.67% from JMD 6.00 on October 3, 2005.
SSL recommends investors SELL this stock at current levels of JMD 2.85 and up.”

The JNN and RETV acquisitions.

On the face of it, the JNN and RETV cable channel acquisitions by the RJR Group was a natural fit. In much the same way that the cable channel TVJ Sports Network was set up ahead of the last Cricket World Cup to absorb the enormous quantity of cricket coverage available to the media group, it was felt that JNN could draw on the enormous news gathering capacities, infrastructure, equipment and importantly news staff of the RJR Group News Centre.

What seemed like a natural fit, has met upon resistance and territorial blocks. Not able to draw upon the immense resources available in the RJR Group, JNN has languished, not able to take full advantage of the natural synergies.

Central Bank increases interest rates payable on BOJ Certificates of Deposits.
In an effort to stabilise the foreign exchange market, which has been significantly pressured due to a confluence of economic factors, the central bank has increased interest rates payable on BOJ Certificates of Deposits considerably. The most recent hike occurred when interest rates applicable on 365-days open market tenors increased to 24 per cent. Since the start of the year, 30-days and six-month Certificate of Deposit Rates have risen by 535 and 950 basis points respectively.

Six-month treasury-bills yield auctioned by the BOJ on November 26 was 19.26 per cent, an increase of 592 basis points since the start of the year.

Jamaica in recession since ’08 start

December 03, 2008

The Jamaican economy has been in a recession since March of this year according to official data published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin). The data showed that real gross domestic product (GDP) by quarter has declined year over year since the December 2007 quarter. Statin, which revised its GDP data to rebase its numbers from 1996 to 2003 and which began using, this year, the value-added approach to calculate economic activity, reported a 0.4 per cent decline in value-added during the December quarter of 2007 when compared to the corresponding quarter in 2006.

BOJ wields interest-rate shield – Jamaican dollar falls 10 per cent year to date
Wednesday | December 3, 2008

The Bank of Jamaica, in a pre-emptive move to mop up the cash it expects to flood the market at Christmas, has increased the interest rates on its certificates of deposit – its tool for signalling direction on rates. The move comes against continued depreciation in the exchange rate, which breached the $78 barrier against the United States dollar in trading. The severity of the increase has raised concerns in the market and among businesses for which the cost of capital will become more expensive.

Lascelles rakes in $3 billion profit

Friday | December 5, 2008

Lascelles deMercado and Company, which deals predominantly in wines and spirits, made $3 billion of net profit in the year just ended, September 30, on strong performance in most business segments.

But the William McConnell-led conglomerate, for which $3 billion is a new profit record and a 13 per cent improvement on last year’s $2.7 billion, said it could have done better were it not for disappointing returns from its sugar estate.

“The performance of the company overall was below expectations,” said Finance Director Anthony Bell.

“The wines and spirits segment was below expectations due to losses incurred in our cane and sugar operations. Although the spirits division experienced growth, it was not sufficient to offset the losses in sugar.”

Scotia DBG joins billion-dollar profit club

Friday | December 5, 2008

Scotia DBG Investment Limited (SDBG) has, for the first time, recorded net profit above one billion dollars, a performance chief executive officer Anya Schnoor has credited to growth in funds under management and growth by acquisition.

ScotiaDBG reported net profit of $1.2 billion at financial year ending October 31, 2008.

“This reflects a credible performance for Scotia DBG,” said Schnoor.

“Despite a challenging fiscal year both in Jamaica and the financial markets worldwide, we managed to produce a record year of profitability.”

Schnoor and her team grew profit by 81 per cent, due in part to the merger of Scotia Jamaica Investments Management Limited (SJIM) into Scotia DBG, and general growth in product lines the company reported.

Bad debt growth continues to accelerate
December 10, 2008

Non-performing loans (NPL) are rapidly approaching J$9 billion, climbing to levels not seen since the 90s financial crisis. Up to September, $8.85 billion in NPLs – loans in arrears for three months and over – clogged the system, more than the capital budget for education and agriculture combined. Its the second consecutive quarter that NPL’s have increased rapidly even as loans grew by half that amount – according to Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) data just released. NPLs grew 47.7 per cent for the September quarter over the same period last year. Commercial banks were hardest hit with NPLs up 55.3 per cent year on year to $5.6 billion; whilst mortgagers NPLs grew 45.3 per cent to $2.6 billion; and near bank NPLs grew seven per cent to $599 million.

$40 billion in circulation

Wednesday | December 10, 2008

The Bank of Jamaica says there was less cash floating around the system than at the end of November but expects the situation to change as the month progresses. Currency in circulation was estimated at $40.5 billion at December 5, but the central bank says this was half a billion lower than November’s. But, it projects that in a matter of weeks money in the system will top $50 billion, as the Christmas shopping season unfolds. “During December, there is normally a stronger demand for cash, as a result of the increase in spending during the holiday period,” said the central bank.

Inflation down 0.3%

Wednesday | December 17, 2008

Consumer prices fell in November in line with falling oil prices on the world market. The Consumer Price Index or CPI declined from 136.9 to 136.4, reflecting inflation of -0.3 per cent.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (Statin) reported that the cost of utilities, gas and housing fell by as much as eight per cent while transport was down 2.8 per cent.

Still, Prime Minister Bruce Golding said headline inflation fell because of actions by the central bank to defend the local currency.

“Inflation would have jumped back if we hadn’t taken steps to stop the slide in the Jamaican dollar,” said Golding Sunday as he announced the new economic stimulus package

Barn Theatre property for sale
December 17, 2008

A New Kingston property that once used to house one of the capital most iconic cultural centres, the Barn Theatre, is up for sale with a price tag of US$1.9 million (J$148 million), selling agent Century 21 said. Situated at the corner of Oxford and Ripon Roads in the capital’s uptown district, the property has 34,000 square feet of buildings on three-quarter acres and land considered ripe for commercial development.

FCIB loses value, but Jamaican operation grows profit

Wednesday | December 17, 2008

FirstCaribbean International Bank has lost value and is now a US$10.9 billion company measured by assets, a near billion-dollar depletion of its balance sheet compared to a year ago. Though still unaudited, the October 31, 2008, balance sheet reflects a write-down on the fair value of financial assets, a reduced portfolio of investment securities, reduced cash – amounting to about US$1.6 billion. This was partially offset by a US$734 million or 12 per cent gain in the banking group’s loan portfolio to US$6.8 billion.

Government of Jamaica, bauxite firms haggle over levy – $28-billion stimulus package could grow

Published: Wednesday | December 17, 2008

The Jamaican government and the owners of the island’s alumina refineries and bauxite-mining operations are haggling over what concessions the island will have to provide for firms to stay open in the face of a slump in demand for aluminium.

“The companies have placed what they want on the table and the talks are turning on what they, in turn, are willing to give in return for any reduction in the bauxite production levy,” senior government and trade union sources said.

The levy was projected to bring in more than $8 billion in revenue for the Government this year, but is off target so far by a third. The negotiations form part of efforts by the Golding administration to shock the economy back to life.

Scotia DBG lead broker on Pegasus sale
19th December

The Development Bank of Jamaica has hired investment bankers, Scotia DBG Investments, as its lead broker for the sale of government’s near 60 per cent stake in the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

“As lead broker and advisor, Scotia DBG Investments will be responsible for providing brokerage and advisory services relating to the identification of the most appropriate time and method of disposing of the shares,” said DBJ.

The development bank is managing the divestment on behalf of another government agency, the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

Scotia DBG declined disclosing how much it is being paid, but assistant vice-president Chris Chin-Loy said it would be a percentage of what the hotel is sold for.

Dollar hits $80

The Jamaican dollar crossed the $80 mark this week, with the central bank stepping up its activity in the market to keep it from falling too far too fast. The dollar was expected to hit the $80 mark, but analysts predicted it would have happened next year. Global events, however, have overtaken those forecasts. The spot rate reached $80.15, but might have fallen further were it not for the Bank of Jamaica selling currency to its primary dealers for resale to end users at that price.

After 52 years …Blue Cross replaced – To be rebranded as Sagicor Jan 1, Merger to be finalised by March

Friday | December 19, 2008
Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited has been given 60 days by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, international owners of the brand, to finalise the transfer of the Jamaican business, and informed sources say that the transition is already two weeks underway with visible signs of the rebranding expected by next month. The clearest indication of what Sagicor Jamaica paid for the business of its rival came from president Richard Byles who said it was “at least book value.”

Additional sources: Daily Observer, Daily Gleaner, the Internet.

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John Mahfood “I Listed on the JSE to Raise Capital for My Business”



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JSE Online Trading Platform



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Grace Stockholders To Vote On 3-for-1 Stock Split Today



Shareholders of GraceKennedy Limited will this morning meet to consider and, if thought fit, approve a recommendation for a three-for-one stock split.

If approved, shareholders will receive three stocks for each one that is currently held.

According to group CEO Don Wehby, the stock units with a market price of J$115.00 per stock unit prior to the split will now increase threefold with an initial price of J$38.33 per stock unit

He says the stock split would allow GK’s stock to be made available to more investors while further enhancing the market for the shares.

Ahead of this morning’s Extraordinary General Meeting, GK last week issued 59,360 additional GK shares.

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UK Loses S&P Triple A Rating



The UK has lost its top AAA credit rating from ratings agency S&P following the country’s vote to leave the EU.

S&P says the referendum result could lead to “a deterioration of the UK’s economic performance, including its large financial services sector”.

Earlier the pound plunged to a 31-year low against the dollar, and UK markets closed lower for a second day. On Friday,

Moody’s cut the UK’s credit rating outlook to negative.

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Caribbean Hotels Named In Jetsetters’ 2016 Best Of The Best



Three Caribbean hotels have been named in US-based travel and lifestyle magazine Jetsetter’s 2016 Best of the Best awards.

The list which was published recently, highlighted the world’s 20 best hotels in categories ranging from Best Over-The-Top Luxury to Best Safari Lodge.

Included in the list were Antigua and Barbuda’s Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel, Anguilla’s Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa, and St Lucia’s BodyHoliday.

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