S.S.B. Considering Purchase of $55 Million in B.T.L., B.E.L. Shares
Eleven million shares, valued at fifty-five million Belize dollars – seven million in Belize Telemedia Limited and four million in Belize Electricity Limited – are up for purchase by the Social Security Board on behalf of contributors. It comes as the Government seeks financial windfalls to shore up its projected gap in revenue for the coming budget and as it scrambles to address both the Superbond and second payment to the former owners of Belize Telemedia Limited. The purchase has been approved by the Investment Committee and if it is approved by the Board after a mandated two-week period for public comment, then the Board will hold around a third of shares in both companies and will be entitled to an additional board seat in each utility company. Speaking by telephone with News Five this evening, C.E.O. of Social Security, Doctor Colin Young, outlined the main benefits of the additional purchases and said that in the case of B.T.L., the Board is not frightened by the apparent depreciation of the book value of the company’s shares because it expects a better rate of return from both companies.
“It does two things: it’s investing our income in very safe investments, because the rate of return in terms of dividend pay-outs is better than what’s in the market; and the second part is that the investment, in terms of the equity portion, has gone to over thirty percent in both cases, it then allows S.S.B. to have another seat on the board in both of those utilities, so that’s the other part of that.”
“Is there any truth to the suggestion that the original shares that S.S.B. has in B.T.L. have depreciated in value and that this was a consideration when the Board made its decision regarding this share purchase?”
“What we can say… if you look at the last audited financials of B.T.L. which was published in September of last year after the A.G.M., the book value of the shares in 2016 was five dollars and thirty-six cents; based on the valuation done on unaudited figures that is now [down] to five dollars and four cents; so we bought in at five dollars.”
“So you’re saying that it’s not something that unduly worries S.S.B.?”
On the Phone: Dr. Colin Young
“No, no. Because I think it’s very clear – depending on what slant you want to take with the story – but there is really two things that determine or should factor in an investment: one is the book value is only one indicator; the returns on that investment should be another.”
C.E.O. Young told us that S.S.B. projects to make more than seventy million dollars over the next five years in returns from the companies.