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Sep 28, 2017

B.T.L. Gets a Boost from G.O.B.

After an uptick in 2016, Belize Telemedia Limited is reporting less profit in 2017 of just over twenty million dollars. At the Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday evening, it came to light that the company traded forty-eight million in debt from a mortgage debenture due before the London Court of International Arbitration and agreed with the Government to have another twenty-five million waived. The Prime Minister says it is all part of the Government’s efforts to keep the nationally-owned company afloat.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“This was a promise that I had made long ago, I did it when I went to address the B.T.L. workers, well before the election as I recollect, and I said it in the House, so this is not anything new, the promise to waive the debt. Look, we take extreme pride in the national ownership of B.T.L. and we will do whatever we can to help this company to make the giant strides we know it is capable of. The waiver of that twenty-odd million – that is what it is, we make no apologies for it, that is what we had promised, that is what we fully intend to do. The conversion of the forty-eight million portion of the debt into preference shares, that is new; that is a proposal made by the chairman and the board – you know the chairman is an accountant of tremendous skill and ingenuity and innovative thinking. You know him well, don’t you? Yes, yes. It struck me that what’s not to like about that? The preference shares, we had agreed to the servicing of the debt at rates that would not give the returns that the preference shares would give us, so we do not see that we are in any way selling ourselves or the nation short. But converting it to equity naturally helps the balance sheet of B.T.L. you know that they are launching this massive national broadband plan, and they have to borrow a great deal of money, something like ultimately ninety million dollars, to ensure that this fiber connectivity to the home blankets the country, and will be as successful as one can ever imagine. But in order to attract the loan financing, they needed their balance sheet to look the way it now does in consequence of the agreement to take that forty-eight million off as debt and instead convert it to equity.”

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