BOB hopes for imminent commercial loan restart


Tribune Business Reporter


BANK of The Bahamas is hoping to receive regulatory approval to restart commercial lending activities next month, its managing director said yesterday.

Kenrick Brathwaite, speaking as the BISX-listed bank opened its latest branch on JFK Drive, told Tribune Business it was the correct time for the institution to re-enter a market segment that was the previously the cause of its two taxpayer-funded rescues since it had been “in the black” for several years with consistent profitability.

“Last year our profitability was over $11m, so we expect to continue to grow. We’re only waiting on the Central Bank now to give us the OK to resume lending commercially, then we can be on par with all of the other banks. We expect that imminently next month - by next month,” Mr Brathwaite said.

Bank of The Bahamas has been prevented from engaging in commercial lending to businesses since 2013-2014. The Central Bank first has to complete an assessment to determine whether the BISX-listed institution, which is more than 82 percent majority-owned by a combination of the Public Treasury and National Insurance Board, has sufficiently robust risk controls such that there will not be a repeat of the huge delinquencies which almost led to the bank’s collapse.

The Government ultimately initiated two bail-outs of Bank of the Bahamas, the first in 2014 and the second in 2018, which transferred ‘toxic’ commercial loans worth a gross $267m to a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Bahamas Resolve. Taxpayers contributed at least a further $40m via a subsequent rights issue that had to be fully subscribed for by the Government shareholders.

Mr Brathwaite, meanwhile, said of the new JFK branch: “This opening is incorporated into the overall strategy that the bank has established for Bank of the Bahamas that will allow all stakeholders to take a journey with us - this journey of success - with anticipation of becoming the most efficient, customer-centric financial institution in this Bahamas.

“This journey, which began some years ago, involves rebuilding our image. This is a part of that improving our products and services, developing all bank personnel, introducing sound policies and practices, upgrading our systems. Last but never least, enhancing our customer service. Many of you do have an appreciation for this journey having been in various aspects.”

He continued: “We have come a long way on this journey. However, we also recognise that we still have a long way to go to complete this journey of success. We are happy that each of you has agreed to participate in this journey by your presence here today. The opening of this branch represents a step in the overall strategy of us achieving our strategic goals.”

Prime Minister Philip Davis, who attended the branch’s opening, yesterday said it was estimated that “18 percent of our population is unbanked, meaning roughly 70,000 Bahamians do not have access to (vital) banking services”.


DWW 1 month, 1 week ago

But that $165,000,000 though


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