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Mar 22, 2018

B.T.L. – What Is It Really Worth to Belize?

Is the Government running a game with the share price of Belize Telemedia Limited and what the company is really worth? That’s the thinking in some sectors since G.O.B. is considering selling more shares of B.T.L. to the Social Security Board.  In 2017, S.S.B. bought seven million shares at five dollars a share, despite the book value having depreciated by thirty-two cents from the last share purchase in 2010. Now according to the figures we have obtained, B.T.L. is only worth about two hundred and twenty-seven million or four dollars and fifty-eight cents per share.  But government paid out a total of five hundred sixty-three million for its acquisition after selling twenty-two point two million B.T.L. shares for one hundred and eleven million.  That is a net cost of four hundred and three million and a loss of nearly three hundred million dollars. Yet, as Prime Minister Dean Barrow insisted during the Budget presentation, B.T.L. can and will become a billion-dollar company. In his response, Opposition Leader John Briceño says the B.T.L. acquisition made neither good investment nor business sense.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“When I looked at the Audited Financial statements for B.T.L. for the year 2014-2015, the value of all its assets was one hundred and ninety-nine-point-eight million dollars. The 2015-2016 financials placed its assets at two hundred and five-point-three million dollars; the 2016-2017 financials has it at two hundred and forty-two point five million dollars. Average out the value of the B.T.L. assets for those three years, it comes up to only two hundred and fifteen-point-nine million dollars, yet we paid a combined total of five hundred and eighty-four million dollars for B.T.L. Doesn’t make good sense to me.  If we look at the real value based on profitability, Government’s seventy-three percent ownership of B.T.L. is worth only ninety-point-five million dollars. So the PM’s brilliant negotiating skills, landed us a deal where as a business decision, we lost three hundred and thirty-three million dollars in the B.T.L. nationalization. Central Bank and Social Security’s twenty-seven percent of the company is only worth thirty-three-point five million dollars; therefore, Central Bank and Social Security have already lost eighty-one-point five million dollars on their investment. Let me remind you, Madam Speaker, Social Security’s money belong to the people of this country (Applause). And I know that there are plans for Government to sell more of their shares to Social Security. I want to put on notice, that if that is going to happen, I am going to demand a third-party independent valuation of those shares. And if this is not done, we on this side are going to call for a judicial review on the valuation and the conflict of interest when selling to a related party.”

 

Briceño estimates B.T.L.’s actual net worth as one hundred and twenty-four million dollars. As for the company becoming a billion-dollar company, it will be a long time waiting as according to Briceño’s estimate, at the twenty-million average profit for B.T.L. over the past three years, it will take up to forty-nine and a half years to earn the billion dollars the P.M. estimates.

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