UPDATED: Replaced the words SOLD OUT with TAKEOVER
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just imagining things or just crying wolf, but I think The Nation newspaper got it wrong when they printed “BS&T Mega Deal” across their front page today.
“Barbados Shipping & Trading (BS&T), the country’s biggest conglomerate, is planning to merge with energy and industrial giant Neal & Massy of Trinidad & Tobago.”
The article covers the planned merger between BS&T and Neal & Massy. Folks, this is not a merger. This is just spin. Why spin it? Simple, it keeps us Barbadians (at least those of us who accept things at face value and refuse to question anything) happy. Why not call a spade, a spade? Because it is upsetting, at least, I think it is. The headline and the first paragraph even make it sound as if BS&T is the one instigating the merger.
Barbadians are a proud people (sometimes a little to proud) and for us to be told that our island is being bought and sold left, right and centre (which it is, but no one seems to care or notice) would cause much social discontent and possibly upheaval. In case you’re wondering, we are also a passive people as well. You want land? Sure, come on down! We got plenty o’ land! You’re not from here, even better! We love foreigners! We’ll even bend a few rules so that you can buy it, then, you can build your huge mega-million-dollar mansions!
But back to the takeover of BS&T by Neal & Massy. Does the name Sir Alan Fields ring a bell? Not only is Sir Alan Fields the chairman of BS&T, he’s also a senator in a senate that is largely hand-picked by the current Government in power, the BLP. Call me a pessimist, but I cannot help but think that Sir Alan will do what is best for his business, before he does what is best for his country. Sames goes for the BLP. Forget the people, let’s focus on our bank balances instead. BS&T was .
“Sir Allan made it clear the proposal, which was yet to be approved by the Securities Commission of Barbados and the Trinidad & Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission, was a “friendly merger” of “unequals” but “BS&T was not for sale”.
Really, Sir Alan, who are you trying to fool? A “friendly merger” of “unequals?” Hah! This is David vs. Goliath, the only difference is that this time, David, or in this case BS&T, gets knocked for six! I’m not an MBA or a business student, but why would “unequals” merge? Especially when BS&T is smaller than Neal & Massy. Smells like a TAKEOVER to me, Sir Alan.
Thankfully, someone at The Nation newspaper published a few brief facts about both companies (NOTE: 1 USD is unofficially taken as 2 BDS in Barbados):
- BS&T profits after taxation in 2007 – BDS$26.85 million, up 20.5% from 2006
- Current assets for BS&T stood at BDS$387.05 million
- BS&T holds 3% of Neal & Massy’s total shares
- Neal & Massy profits after taxation in 2007 – BDS$57. 39 million, up from BDS$42.87 million in 2006
- Current assets for Neal & Massy stood at BDS$636.50 million
- Neal & Massy holds 23% of BS&T’s total shares
If this is not a TAKEOVER of BS&T by Neal & Massy, then I don’t know what is.
Yes, all of them now in the hands of Neal & Massy. With this sale, BS&T will once again change the Barbadian socioeconomic landscape. What a sad, sad day. An anonymous individual pointed out to me that Neal & Massy already had a significant stake in BS&T. This same person also overheard a senior member of staff at a subsidiary of Neal & Massy say that it was obvious that this was being called a merger and not a takeover. Who knows what would happen (if anything at all) if the Barbadian public knew the truth?
Oh well, another Barbadian enterprise, (maybe not the greatest, but Barbadian at least) is sold off. Just like the Barbados National Bank. Sold to the Trinidadians who, if I remember correctly, turned the bank around and made it profitable, something I think (correct me if I’m wrong) our Barbadian Government couldn’t get done.
The Nation newspaper says the new “merged” entity will be called Neal & Massy, BS&T Group Limited. You can bet that at this rate, the day will come when Barbados will be under the complete control of Trinidad & Tobago. Then our name will change to Trinidad, Tobago & Barbados (TT&B).
Then again, maybe this really is just a merger and I’m being paranoid? Time will tell.