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Turnquest: We Can Turn Bank Of The Bahamas Around

By Natario McKenzie

Business Tribune Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest said yesterday the Minnis administration has the best opportunity to restore value to Bank of The Bahamas, telling this newspaper the government would not have injected $166m into the struggling bank if it did not believe it could turn it around.

"I think that we have the best opportunity certainly to restore value to the bank. I am very confident in the board that we have. They will have the full support of the government and we believe that we will be able to turn it around. We wouldn't be investing $166m if I didn't believe that there is an opportunity for the Bank for The Bahamas. At the end of the day, we believe in the professionalism and the ability of Bahamians," Mr Turnquest told Tribune Business yesterday.

The latest rescue will remove some $166m worth of "toxic" commercial loans from BOB's balance sheet and transfer them to the Bahamas Resolve special purpose vehicle (SPV). The loans, which are to be paid for at gross book value, will be exchanged for promissory notes (government IOUs or bonds) that will be provided by Bahamas Resolve. This will fill the hole left on BOB's balance sheet by the removal of the impaired loans.

"We are going to give them every opportunity to be successful. It is unfortunate that the bank got to this point but as we give the bank the opportunity to solve its issues, we will also diligently pursue those loans that we taken on to the Resolve Corporation to ensure that the Bahamian people are able to recover as much of those delinquent loans as possible. At the end of the day, this is a tremendous investment for the Bahamian people and we must return shareholder value to them," Mr Turnquest added.

Bahamas Resolve is the special purpose vehicle (SPV) created in October 2014 to facilitate the rescue of Bank of the Bahamas. The "bail out" saw a collective $45.2m in "bad loans", belonging to 13 delinquent borrowers, transferred from the BISX-listed institution to Bahamas Resolve, with the subsequent 'hole' in the bank's balance sheet plugged by $100m worth of government bonds.

The interest payments due to Bank of the Bahamas on those bonds were supposed to be serviced by the proceeds from Bahamas Resolve's sale/liquidation of "distressed assets" securing those loans - mainly high-end and apartment-style residential properties, together with some business premises.

Opposition financial services spokesman and Exuma MP Chester Cooper yesterday backed the Minnis administration's BOB rescue. In a statement, Mr Cooper noted that there was "no getting around" the fact that BOB has been in trouble over the course of several administrations. He noted that the government and ultimately the Bahamian taxpayers will be on the hook for the $166m to be transferred and the $100m transferred under the previous administration.

Comments

DDK 1 year, 3 months ago

My Oh My! Is this a FLIP or a FLOP?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

THIS IS A CATACLYSMIC 180 DEGREE FLOP - a huge political blunder that could easily spell the end of the political careers of both KP and Minnis. All of the waffling by KP out of both sides of his mouth on this matter sounds very much like what we have all heard from Christie many times before.....the same 'ole BS. It is beyond comprehension that Minnis and KP have apparently decided to betray their FNM's supporters by this inexplicable blatant act of hypocrisy in accepting and endorsing the same failed Bahama Resolve bailout model for BoB that was created by Christie and Halkitis. All of us remember only too well the many occasions during the recent election campaign that Minnis, time and time again, said he would (if elected PM) close the doors of both BoB and Bahamas Resolve in order to put an end to the great expense taxpayers would incur in funding their future operating losses indefinitely into the future. While campaigning Minnis made it quite clear over and over again that based on all of the information available in the public domain about BoB and its failed Bahamas Resolve bail out plan, both of these entities were in need of nothing more than a doctor's death certificate (an application for a court order that their affairs be wound up), a funeral service (a winding up process by one or more official liquidators under the supervision of the court) and a burial (eventual striking off by the Registrar of Companies). In the circumstances, it is unconscionable that Dr. Minnis and KP would go back on their word and now seek to keep both BoB and Bahamas Resolve on life support, knowing full well these entities have no hope whatsoever of recovery and therefore should not be allowed to continue receiving outrageously costly transfusions using taxpayers' dollars. We, the people, have every right to expect that Minnis and KP will re-evaluate their initial 'hasty' and ill-advised decision and do the right thing by us, rather than commit a colossal betrayal of FNM supporters that would result in certain political suicide.

Both Minnis and KP must surely understand that this hypocritical post-election change in policy, on what was a very major matter for most FNM supporters when they went to the polls, is going to have dire consequences for the remainder of the government's five year term. We would like to think our PM is not a charlatan, but this is going to give most if not all of us very serious pause for thought on that count. Keeping BoB and Bahamas Resolve on taxpayer life support only postpones the inevitable while resulting in more operating losses to be borne by taxpayers. We've had enough, we know enough, and we now want Minnis to make good on a key promise he repeatedly made to us (his supporters) while on the campaign trail. It's that simple.

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Porcupine 1 year, 3 months ago

Well mudda, As one of the very few commenters here that seems to "get it", I ask you this. What government has ever delivered? It probably hasn't happened in your lifetime, and probably won't. Therefore, while I feel joined at the hip with you on 99.9% of your comments, I wonder what exactly is worth the many hours a week we take to express ourselves, and who are we really talking to? I think my best strategy is to recognize that all governments lie, and will always let the people down. They don't work for us; never have. The government of The Bahamas has the same literacy percentage rate as the general population, in other words a fair representation of mediocrity. Though I comment, I do so for the same reason I vomit after eating bad food. I feel good after I do so, but I don't believe I'm of better health than before I ate the tainted food. Therefore, my belief is that to expect better from any government official merely shows us to be.................what, I'm not sure. Foolish? If we succeed and prosper here, it will be despite our government. This will always be the case, unless you are a web shop owner, or a Chinese investor, or someone else who has likewise "contributed" the many millions necessary to have the politicians ear, and their action. Our fault is in believing a word the politicians have to say. I ask many people on our Family Island, from the age of 80 on down, what has any government ever done for your community? Not one person can tell me that any government has helped their community in the least. So, whom may I ask, are the crazy ones here? The politicians, or those of us who think things are going to change? With Bank of The Bahamas, who cannot see this as ultimately ending in tears? I can live with this failure. The question for me is, how will my children be able to deal with a bankrupt, crime ridden and failed society? Those who cannot see this coming are the ones in charge.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

Don't ever despair, just plan for the worse and hope for the best. I'm thankfully an indigenous Bahamian with three passports and my spouse also has three passports. The many passports enable my spouse and I to spend a lot of time abroad - condos in Ontario and Florida and, more recently, a log cabin in Montana. More than 90% of my wealth is now outside of the Bahamas, mainly due to my fears about the future of the Bahamian dollar. My grown Bahamian children (all dual nationals) have successful careers abroad - they elected not to return to the Bahamas after their university years like so many of their Bahamian friends. The Bahamas remains my tax home for obvious reasons and I still have many friends there, including sisters, brothers and both parents. I've always been a prolific writer.....and enjoy making others think about things that may not be so obvious. Because I'm not trying to convert anyone to anything, I've never felt like I'm banging my head against a wall. There you have it....my take on things!

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OldFort2012 1 year, 3 months ago

@mudda, you seem quite a knowledgeable and sensible guy, so I am surprised you don't get it. The "rescue" is not going to cost the government a penny. Not now, anyway. Why? Exactly for the same reason that rescuing the financial system did not cost the US a single cent. It was done through Quantitative Easing. The US Treasury issued bonds and these bonds were bought by the Federal Reserve. That money was swapped for shares in the banks. Same gonna happen here. The government is going to issue B$ bonds, the Central Bank will buy them, the Treasury gonna put that money into BoB and get shares. You forget that the rescue is being done in B$s, not US$. So sit back, Google Quantitative Easing and enjoy. The problem has now been elegantly kicked into the long grass. The problem will arise when BoB pisses the money from the rescue away and the shares become worthless again, so the Government cannot sell them and get the money to pay back the CB. But that is yeaaarssss away. Problem for whoever wins the next election.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

I sincerely hope you're not right about this. Increasing the B$ portion of our national debt in the way you describe would have grave implications for the current pegged value of our B$ against the US$.......and the implications would manifest themselves in our already crippled and very fragile economy in horrible ways a lot sooner than you would like to think. Quantitive easing (the printing of local currency) in an exchange control regime like ours is simply not possible without creating all sorts of unintended horrible consequences. Minnis and KP cannot possibly be so daft or ill-informed to go down that road, unless they are foolishly solely relying on the advice of someone like John Rolle!

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OldFort2012 1 year, 3 months ago

Ask yourself when the "consequences" will appear and you have your answer. There are no short term consequences of any kind before bond maturity. And even that can be refinanced. Happy to run you through the numbers. UNLESS BoB uses the new liquidity to go on a lending spree and the borrowers use the loans for imported consumption (which I cannot imagine they are THAT STUPID), there will be ZERO effect on the B$/US$ exchange rate. By definition, if they are plugging a hole, they cannot use the funds to multiply the borrower base...but I guess anything is possible here.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Comrades! Just got off the phone with the Trade Representative over at the Chinese Embassy- and was informed that not even a Chinese factory has the production machines that could manufacture a pair "Flip Flops" to fit our KP's big foots.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

Lol. Did they tell you what kind of flip flops they "can" manufacture?

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baldbeardedbahamian 1 year, 3 months ago

The problem with particular act is that the government will change at some point. Time will tell if we can trust Dr. Minnis and his cabinet but we know we cannot trust ex leaders like swindling pPndling and Corrupt Christie. In order to balance out decades of deficit spending the country will have to go through a period of very restricted government spending. This will hurt and an uneducated electorate will blame the current rather than previous government. BOB may be bailed out by then and the new government, elected by a people tired of tough economic times, can then extend unrepayable , unsecured loans of millions to their minions once again. History tends to repeat itself unless action is taken to prevent it happening. Bailing out BOB will facilitate rather than prevent this.

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Honestman 1 year, 3 months ago

The government needs to keep BoB as it is the only bank that will take tainted web shop money. Also, Bimini needs a bank and BoB is the only show in town. Unless government wants to reverse the PLP's web shop legislation, the cabinet is stuck with having to maintain BoB.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 3 months ago

A really scary thought would be if the directions are coming from the webshops..."again"

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

If Obama doesn't d not bail out the US Banks and auto industry, where would America be today? O ye hypocrites!

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Reality_Check 1 year, 3 months ago

You really are a doofus....always unable to see the big picture for yourself! The U.S. government has the ability to print tons of money and then simultaneously sell it to others all over the world (like the Chinese government) in the form of U.S. Treasury obligations, i.e. short term T-bills and, more importantly, long term T-bonds. That's how the U.S. government gets to do many things (like bailout entire industries) that our government could never do. Presumably you know there is no market for Bahamian dollars outside of the Bahamas.......but true to form, you have once again failed to connect the key dots before spilling your foolish remarks.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of the bones of the dead inside and everything unclean.

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John 1 year, 3 months ago

Can all of BoB's woes be attributed to toxic loans and government interference or is there something going on in the banking industry itself that, too, is having an impact on the bank's bottom line. While Fidelity Bank and Commonwealth Bank seem to have become cash cows for shareholders over the past few years, Royal Bank and Scotiabank's performances in the Bahamas has been less than satisfactory. RBC (local) has been cutting staff, outsourcing tasks, closing branches, cutting back on services even to the point that some customers claim they spend up to three hours in line at some branches to get service. And even then they are told they cannot be served or have to return with certain documents. Some customers complain that credit cards have expired for weeks and they cannot get a replacement from RBC. Even on the business side RBC services is reportedly severely lacking. Customers claim that deposits are taking two to three days to be posted to their accounts. This is in turn creating problems who may have tight cash flows are checks are hitting the bank before deposits are posted. This results in the businesses being charged over limit fees or even checks being returned. Then there is the compliant that RBC is increasing its interest rates on customer loans. While their interest on many fixed deposits remain at zero, yes no interest is being paid, some customers indicate that the interest rates on their commercial loans have increased to 12 %. The key behind Commonwealth and Fidelity's profitability seems to be not only loans that are performing within industry standards, but streamlined and efficient operations that are more customer friendly than RBC or Scotiabank.

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Reality_Check 1 year, 3 months ago

@John: Are you taking some potent medication or serious other drugs? Just wondering because your thought process is disjointed and disconnected in so many ways.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

Suggest you leave him be.....@John is not a mischievous purveyor of invective misinformation like Tal, Birdie and BFB..... he therefore has as much right as we do to post whatever he wants.

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TalRussell 1 year, 3 months ago

Comrades! Hundreds should organise to March into Rawson Square - all wearing Flip-Flops and chanting whilst ringing Cowbells ...... "KP," How does you likes it... when hundreds wear Flip-Flops to mocks you? There has to be a peaceful way to humour these Red Shirts cabinet ministers?

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baldbeardedbahamian 1 year, 3 months ago

There is a saying that a little learning is a dangerous thing. If you read the posts by john then the truth of this saying becomes apparent. john is obviously a blind supporter of the political party that lost the last election. john also has some problems accepting that Bahamians come in different hues. He might well be the same person who posts under the birdiestrachan handle as the posts have a similar xenophobic and anti FNM constancy. Like the disbarred lawyer who regularly writes long self-serving letters to the dailies, john is best ignored.

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Socrates 1 year, 3 months ago

it would be a welcome and pleasant surprise if, and i say if, Turnquest doesn't live to regret his words. . 'restore value' and 'turnaround' are not words found in any government dictionary... good luck!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 3 months ago

Here's the reminder of the FNM's march on BoB led by Minnis himself:

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/news...">http://www.thenassauguardian.com/news...

And on numerous occasions after the FNM's march on BoB and during his campaigning, Minnis made it abundantly clear he had no intention of adopting or endorsing Christie's failed approach to BoB's financial mess involving a new entity created by Christie, namely Bahamas Resolve Ltd. On countless occasions on the campaign trail, Minnis went out of his way to leave all FNM supporters with the very firm impression that he would be bringing the BoB and Bahamas Resolve debacle to a speedy end rather than keeping these two entities on taxpayer life support, recognizing that BoB for all intents and purposes has been dead for quite sometime now without any hope of recovery. Once a majority government owned bank like BoB is no longer profitable and has been made technically insolvent as a result of systemic corruption, it is impossible for it to regain the public trust and recover self-supporting economic viability without massive ongoing taxpayer support over many many years. This we cannot afford, and for both Minnis and KP to now suggest otherwise (a 180 degree turn on their part) is ludicrous! Nor is it a sensible or sustainable option under our exchange control regime for The Central Bank to simply print more money to keep BoB's doors open indefinitely, unless it has been decided to allow a significant devaluation of the Bahamian dollar against the U.S. dollar in the not so distant future.

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