Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday announced that $1.4 billion in Clico shares from Angostura and Home Construction Limited (HCL) will go towards the creation of a new National Mutual Fund. Imbert said the $1.4 billion accounts for 29.9 per cent of Clico’s shares in Angostura and 16 per cent of its shares in HCL.
The minister said Government took this decision because it is aware of the fear people have about Clico and CL Financial’s (CLF) assets being sold to wealthy private concerns, which may not be in the population’s best interests. Imbert said Government also knew about the emotional attachment citizens have to the Clico group of companies as, a “major indigenous conglomerate.”
However, he lamented that the conglomerate was undone by “bad decisions and greed.”
Imbert reminded MPs that $23 billion of taxpayers’ money was spent over the last eight years to bail out CLF. He said CLF today still owes the State $15.6 billion. Recalling the High Court’s recent ruling to approve CLF’s liquidation, Imbert said it was instructive that Government received $8 billion from Clico because it is under the Central Bank’s control. He said since the first CLF shareholders’ agreement on June 12, 2009, CLF has sold a number of its assets and “kept the proceeds to themselves.”
Imbert said the court’s ruling now paves the way for CLF’s assets to be liquidated for the repayment of “billions of dollars lent to this private company.”
He explained that as CLF’s major assets become available through the liquidators, they will be divested either through public offerings on the Stock Exchange or through placement in the fund.
He said through this mechanism, all of CLF’s companies will not be sold to the highest bidder but be available to the general public and institutional investors.
Imbert said organisations like the National Insurance Board and the Unit Trust Corporation fell in the latter group.