New branch: Inspector of Financial Institutions Carl Hiralal cuts the ribbon yesterday to officially open the ANSA Merchant Bank branch at Grand Bazaar in Valsayn. Looking on is ANSA McAL chairman emeritus Anthony Sabga. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

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McAL group 'optimistic for 2013'

...Hoping for growth in investments, construction, new business

By Carla Bridglal carla.bridglal@trinidadexpress.com

The ANSA McAL group, one of the largest conglomerates in the region, is optimistic about Trinidad and Tobago's business prospects in 2013, the group's financial sector head, Nigel Romano, said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters at the opening of ANSA Merchant Bank's newest branch at the Grand Bazaar mall in Valsayn, Romano said: "The group is expanding, especially Carib (Brewery) and Abel Building Solutions.

"The group is very optimistic about the (economic) prospects for the country and the region, but even with that optimism, one has to be cautious...

"Hopefully (this year) we will see (domestic) growth in investments, construction and new business development.

"At ANSA McAL, we are making sure we execute efficiently. With risk you have to be conscious of the return."

ANSA Merchant Bank is classified as a non-bank financial institution by the Central Bank, and in its latest Financial Stability Report, released Monday, the bank noted this sector had been more seriously affected by the slower pace of economic activity, with profitability dampened by the low interest rate environment.

ANSA Merchant appears to be bucking this trend.

"We have been doing reasonably well; we can't complain," Romano said.

The bank's managing director, Chip Sa Gomes, said the difference at ANSA was a much wider product suite.

"Most of the others have only one or two products, but we (offer) retail loans, merchant banking business, mutual funds and foreign exchange services.

"If we only had one and that was a down sector in that particular year, you would see it impact the bank more, but luckily, all of our different products have been growing. I think we are more diversified than your typical non-bank financial institution.

The bank's Euro Income Fund has, however, taken a hit.

Sa Gomes said this fund, launched at the end of 2009, came out just before the bad news about the Eurozone economy, and has not been a successful product.

He said the bank will reassess it by midyear.

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