Executive chair of Clico, Claire Gomez-Miller, said yesterday the insurance company’s sale of 36.63 per cent of Methanol Holdings International Ltd (MHIL) to the T&T Government is not complete because the share register has not been updated.
Gomez-Miller was responding to WhatsApp questions from Guardian Media following a statement on the issue of the sale of the MHIL shares by Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Brian Manning, in the Senate on Tuesday.
In response to a motion on the adjournment by Opposition Senator Wade Mark, Manning told the Senate that the Government accepted an offer to purchase 19.63 per cent of Clico’s shareholding in MHIL on January 9, 2023.
He said that on February 21, wholly state-owned National Investment Fund Holding Company Ltd (NIF) accepted an offer from Clico to purchase 17 per cent of Clico’s shares in MHIL.
Clico currently holds 56.53 per cent of MHIL, but is in the process of selling 36.63 per cent of the methanol producer, in order to become compliant with the Insurance Act 2018. That act stipulates that insurance companies in T&T cannot hold more than 20 per cent of any entity.
In his statement in the Senate, Manning said: “To date, Clico has signed share acquisition agreements and share transfer forms with the Government of the Republic of T&T and NIF. But the share register of MHIL has not yet been amended to reflect the transfers.”
Asked yesterday whether the sale transaction could be completed if the share register is not updated, Gomez-Miller said: “All Government and NIF agreements and documents have been signed and sent to MHIL for execution.
“The transaction can only be completed when the MHIL share register shows the title has been legally changed from Clico to Government of the Republic of T&T and NIF.
“NIF cannot recognise the acquisition in its financials until they have title to the shares.”
Gomez-Miller said NIF is unable to recognise the acquisition of 17 per cent of MHIL in its financials because it was pointed out to her that NIF made no mention of the acquisition of the MHIL shares in its 2022 annual report, which was published on Tuesday.
In the annual report’s statement of events after the reporting date, NIF said: “The company evaluated all events that occurred from January 1, 2023, through February 28, 2023, the date the financial statements were available to be issued. During the period, the company did not have any subsequent events requiring recognition or disclosure in the financial statements.”
If the purchase of 17 per cent of the shares in MHIL by NIF had been completed on February 21, 2023, the local investment holding company for the Government would have announced the transaction in the subsequent events section of its 2022 annual report.
Clico’s statement on subsequent events noted: “To ensure compliance with regulatory requirements Clico has embarked on the process to sell the portion of its MHIL shares outside regulations.”
Clico would have been obliged to announce the sale of the MHIL shares in its statement of events after reporting period if the transactions had been completed.
Gomez-Miller said the sale of the 36.63 per cent stake in MHIL to the Government and to 100 per cent state-owned NIF would be “more than enough” to pay off Clico’s debt to the Government.
Asked whether NIF can be defined as a non-competing THIRD PARTY, given the fact thatit is 100 per cent owned by the State, Gomez-Miller said yes NIF can be defined as a non-competing THIRD PARTY.
Contacted for comment yesterday, a spokesperson for Proman said: “Consolidated Energy Ltd is surprised by the Minister’s remarks, but does not wish to provide any further comments.”
Switzerland-based Proman–the largest investor on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate–is the owner of Consolidated Energy Ltd, which holds Proman’s shares in MHIL.
MHIL is an investment holding company for shares owned by Clico and Proman in the methanol producer, which is based in the Middle Eastern country of Oman.