2 million Bank of SVG shares for sale in initial public offering
January 8, 2013

2 million Bank of SVG shares for sale in initial public offering

Twenty per cent of the shares of the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG), formerly the National Commercial Bank (NCB), is now up for grabs.{{more}}

This with the formal announcement yesterday that 2,000,000 shares, or half of the 40 per cent the government currently owns, will be sold to private individuals at $8.64 per share.

It is the third phase of the divestment of shares, which began in November 2010 with the selling of 51 per cent of the NBC shares to St Lucia based Eastern Caribbean Financial Holding Co (ECFH) and the sale of 9 per cent between the National Insurance Services (NIS) and the bank’s staff — 8.1 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

The offer got underway on December 27, 2012 and those interested in buying shares have until January 25 to do so.

The minimum being offered to any one investor is 50 shares or units and they can invest in multiples of five thereafter.

Derry Williams, general manager of BOSVG, said that the process of divesting the 20 per cent shares should have started some time ago, but they were unable to due to a series of delays, which he said were outside the control of the bank.

“The IPO (initial public offering) is an important component as efforts continue to modernize the financial sector in the country,” Williams said.

“Today marks the launch of the IPO shares of an institution that has already contributed so profoundly to the social and economic development of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.

It also further diversified the financial products on offer and will give the investing public the opportunity to become owners of the shares in the bank, he continued.

And the public has been responding positively so far.

The bank’s GM said at the official launch of the IPO yesterday at Cabinet Room that since the announcement of the intention to divest the 20 per cent, people have been calling the bank to enquire about the shares.

“The level of interest has not waned and when we announced two weeks ago that the offer was opened, we immediately started getting inquiries and persons have already commenced with the application process,” Williams said.

What is perhaps the most attractive aspect of the deal, however, Williams said, was that the shares would be listed on the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange (ECSE).

This is expected to commence shortly after the close of the IPO later this month.

“The past three years have been challenging for the banking industry and considerable amount of time have been spent strategizing the way forward to ensure that we embrace the opportunities ahead. This is a perfect opportunity, for the future looks promising and will no doubt end good returns for investors,” Esther Browne-Weekes, acting managing director said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the process was expected to create history, with the BOSVG being the first Vincentian company to go on the regional stock exchange and that once it had been listed it was expected to diversify the shareholder base.

“The ECSE’s listing is expected to boost appeal,” and it is expected that the company’s performance will be scrutinized by a greater number of investors and potential investors, he added.

This scrutiny will increase the level of demand, transparency and accountability, Gonsalves explained.

“The BOSVG IPO empowers Vincentians and others to become owners of a company with strong ties to a long-rooted history.”

He encouraged the public to purchase shares.

“The old lady that has some money put aside, put it in the name of your grandson, put it in the name of your son; just leave it there — every year they will get a dividend,” he said.

“We are opening an opportunity that has never been offered before,” Gonsalves said. (DD)