CHAIRMAN: Wilfred Espinet

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TCL chief executive suspended

...new directors want performance review

By Leah Sorias

Trinidad Cement Ltd chief executive Dr Rollin Bertrand was suspended yesterday by the newly-installed board of directors of the Claxton Bay producer. The decision to suspend him came during the board’s first meeting on Tuesday night at the Radisson Hotel in Port of Spain, the same night they were voted into the directors’ positions.

Bertrand was one of six directors who resigned from the company minutes before a group of shareholders held a special (compulsory) meeting to have them removed. Although he resigned as director, Bertrand retained his position as CEO on Tuesday.

Seven new directors were elected on Tuesday—Wilfred Espinet, Alison Lewis, Chris Dehring, Glenn Hamel-Smith, Nigel Edwards and Cemex executives Carlos Palero and Francisco Aguilera. Espinet, who was chosen as chairman of the TCL board, told the Express during a phone interview yesterday that during the directors’ first meeting several decisions were taken including sending Bertrand on suspension until a review of his performance is done.

He said this will take no more than 30 days. When asked the reason for Bertrand’s suspension, Espinet said: “They suspended him because there were some concerns the shareholders and directors had, that they needed to do a proper and thorough analysis of.
“We needed to make sure the proper process has been followed in giving Dr Bertrand a chance to first of all analyse whether or not there was any issue that we saw that was not in keeping with normal practices.

That only has to do with the behaviour of the person in executing his functions.” Espinet said the board was also embarking on several studies to understand the position of the company, both from a financial and operational point of view. In the last few months TCL shareholders had been pushing to get rid of the former board as they were unhappy with the way the company was being run.

According to its financial results for the first half of this year, TCL recorded an eight per cent increase in revenues for the period, but a 55 per cent decrease in profit after tax. The company is heavily indebted, owing money to creditors and $100 million to its employees for back pay during the period 2009/2011.

Espinet told the Express that to date TCL’s legal bills in matters against shareholders stands at well over $10 million.
He said how the company intends to pay this bill is a matter still to be discussed by the new board.
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