Nation Newspaper To Be Owned By Trinidad & Tobago Government Due To Clico Bailout!

The Government of T&T is set to become the largest shareholder of One Caribbean Media (OCM)—parent company of the Trinidad Express, CCN TV-6 and the Nation newspaper in Barbados—as a result of its bailout of Clico, the country’s largest insurance company.

According to OCM’s 2007 annual report, Clico owns 15.3 million shares in the media group, making it the largest single shareholder in the company, which is listed on the stock exchanges in T&T and Barbados. Clico’s stake in OCM was equal to 23.1 per cent of the company, as at the end of 2007. It could not be determined whether the insurance company had changed its ownership stake since then. Explaining the intervention by the State on Friday, Central Bank Governor Ewart Williams said Clico had a sizeable statutory fund deficit, and that CL Financial had agreed to divest “additional assets” to help fund this deficit. The Government has committed to providing additional funding that is needed by Clico, said Williams . “Government funding will be provided in exchange for collateral and an equity interest in Clico,” he said. This means that when the Government takes control of Clico, it will automatically inherit the insurance company’s 23 per cent stake in OCM.

The Government is also likely to inherit the directorship held by the CL Financial group on the OCM board. For nine years, former treasurer of the ruling PNM, Andre Monteil, was the representative of CL Financial chairman Lawrence Duprey on the board of Caribbean Communications Network, the predecessor company to OCM. At the end of 2007, Monteil was replaced by CL Financial’s group financial director Michael Carballo on the OCM board. Carballo and Monteil accompanied Duprey to Friday’s news conference. One Caribbean Media Ltd was established three years ago in January, 2006, as a result of the merger the CCN group and the Barbados Nation. OCM owns ten radio stations in T&T, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts, Antigua and Monsterrat. Contacted last night for comment, Information Minister Neil Parsanlal said: “I am not aware of the extent of Clico’s interest in the OCM group. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on that. “It is too early in the game for that, as we are concentrating on assuring the public that their deposits and policies are safe.”

Prime Minister Patrick Manning accused the media, last year, of being hostile to the Government, and stormed into an urban radio station on October 25, because he was upset that the announcers were adding negative comments to a news story. During a post-Cabinet news conference on November 6, the Prime Minister lamented the fact that none of the country’s 34 radio stations, seven television stations or three daily newspapers pursued a pro-government agenda. The Prime Minister said: “What is worse, is that too many of the commentators, either in the newspapers or on the radio, do not respect our institutions. “It is a question of being disrespectful to institutions and authority and pursuing a course of action that can cause the image of these institutions and individuals to be tarnished in the minds of those in whose interest they are set up to serve.” Last week, the Sunday Express reported that the Government was planning to merge NCC-TV with Government Information and CNMG, which has four radio stations.



One Response to Nation Newspaper To Be Owned By Trinidad & Tobago Government Due To Clico Bailout!

  1. Pingback: Lawerence Duprey Ousted From CL Financial Board « Bajan Global Report

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