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'Waiting till last minute

Holders of Govt bonds moving slowly to CIF

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

FEWER than 1,000 people have so far accepted the offer to exchange their Government bonds for units in the recently established CLICO Investment Fund (CIF).

This was revealed yesterday by general manager of the Trust and Asset Management Division of Republic Bank Ltd Karen Yip Chuck, following a meeting between executives of Republic Bank Ltd and members of the CLICO Policyholders Group.

Republic Bank Ltd's managing director, David Dulal-Whiteway, met with members of the group at the bank's Park Street head office.

The meeting, which was requested by the group, was aimed at clearing up "grey areas" related to the recently formed CIF.

The CIF was formed on November 1 to settle outstanding money owed to CLICO policyholders. The fund comprises in part 40,072,299 Republic Bank Ltd shares with a nominal value of nearly $4.4 billion (at current market prices).

From January 2, 2013, the fund is expected to begin trading on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE). Republic Bank Ltd is the fund administration agent as well as one of the distributors of the fund.

"This represents a key and final milestone in the Government's commitment to settle the balances due to the 15,794 holders of Short-Term Investment Products (STIPS) sold by Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd and British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Ltd," the Ministry of Finance's website states.

Of those 15,794 STIPS holders, fewer than 1,000 have joined the CIF since the fund's inception two weeks ago, Yip Chuck said.

Policyholders have from November 1 to December 14 to exchange their bonds for CIF units.

Yip Chuck, however, said the bonds can still be exchanged for CIF units even after the stipulated timeframe. The main benefit of exchanging bonds before the expiry date is that unitholders will benefit from the $120.8 million dividends made payable to CIF unitholders next February, Yip Chuck said.

Yip Chuck blamed the slow pace of people joining the CIF on the local culture of waiting for the last minute to make decisions.

CLICO Policyholders Group chairman Peter Permell said he believes bond holders have not made the transition because of lack of information.

As a result of this, the group will hold a seminar for bondholders on Sunday, November 25, at the Capital Plaza Hotel Trinidad (formerly Crowne Plaza), Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, from 10 a.m.

Permell described yesterday's meeting as "very cordial and productive".

Dulal-Whiteway called on bondholders to invest in Republic Bank Ltd because of the bank's track record of being "good stewards". He said the bank was looking for a "win-win situation" for all involved.

Attorney Lynette Seebaran-Suite, the legal representative for the CLICO Policyholders Group, was also present at yesterday's meeting.

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