The State has enlisted United Kingdom firms to assist in its decision on the revised CL Financial (CLF) draft agreement, Minister of Finance Larry Howai said yesterday.
Speaking with reporters following the National Enterprises Ltd (NEL) luncheon in celebration of the company's $4 billion shareholder dividend payout in 14 years yesterday, Howai said the draft agreement was being worked on.
Cabinet last month did not approve a draft agreement that is supposed to replace the current shareholders' agreement which will allow it to manage CL Financial assets.
The current agreement was extended by one month. That extension ends today.
The new agreement was supposed to be approved by Cabinet in time for last month's annual general meeting of CLF.
"We are being told that there aren't any real issues and so on but I haven't received the formal document in hand yet. I know they were actually working on it when I left the office so this will be an extension (on the deadline).
"The UK firm of international attorneys—Freshfields—as well as a UK investment adviser has been hired as an international adviser to assist with the CL matter.
I think Cabinet just wants to be sure the structure is one that can stand up to scrutiny from anyone and just wanted to have it double-checked again before we proceed and to ensure that there are no risks that we may have overlooked. To ensure that the entire thing is well structured and there aren't any gapping holes where there could be potential loss," he said.
Howai said although the UK firms have been given 45 days to give their report, the State's deadline has been extended to a bit longer.
"We are looking at perhaps up to about six months, rather than going every month. It makes life easier for you because you won't have to call me in a month's time to see if it is renewed. It will run for a little while so I think the intention is to ensure everything gets sorted out in a reasonable time frame rather than going month to month," Howai said.
He said they were moving quickly with regard to legislation and measures in the financial sector to regulate the sector, mainly because of the issues coming out of the CL Financial crisis and also because of the projected expansion of the financial sector.
"There are a number of things I would like us to do but before we can get some of the big players to come in we have to ensure that we have a proper legislative framework, a regulatory structure that will allow them to be comfortable that we are operating in an environment that will not create unnecessary risk," he added.
Howai described NEL's payout of $4 billion in dividends over the past 14 years to its 6,000 shareholders as a landmark achievement.