Telemedia net profit drops by millions
Belize Telemedia Limited is holding its annual general meeting on September twenty-eighth and some bad news is going to be delivered to its shareholders. A peak at the financial statement of the nationalized company for fiscal year ending March thirty-first, 2012 shows a huge decrease in revenue. In the 2010/11 financial year, B.T.L.’s gross income was one hundred and fifty-eight million dollars, but for the year 2011/12 gross income decreased by eight percent to one hundred and forty-five million dollars, a reduction of thirteen million.
Overall Net Profit also decreased by seven point three million dollars from thirty-four million to twenty-six point five million; a twenty-two percent reduction. The total equity at the end of March, 2012 stood at two hundred and forty-four million dollars, with the return on equity dropping from twelve to nine percent. That is what is being reported, but the financial position would have been even worse if Government hadn’t reduced B.T.L.’s tax bill, while also ignoring a commercial loan that was in place at the date of nationalization in August 2009. The reduction in taxes created an additional and temporary eight million dollars improvement in the bottom line. Without that, the profits would have fallen to eighteen million, which is a forty-five percent reduction in profits compared with the previous year.
Since the first nationalization attempt in 2009, the Government and its appointees have already taken thirty-four million dollars from B.T.L. in dividends, and they are expected to take another ten million at the end of this month. That’s enough to pave all the roads in Belize City, twice over, but compensation to the former owners has still not been paid. One of those owners, the B.T.L. Employees Trust, has just applied to the Caribbean Court of Justice requesting that the payment of dividends at this year’s A.G.M. is stopped or placed in an escrow account, pending the determination of outstanding court cases that seek to return B.T.L. to its former owners. The Trust’s request to the C.C.J. refers to the Governments high credit risk following its decision not to pay the Superbond; the fact that B.T.L. is rushing through this A.G.M. so that they can make another dividend payment to themselves; as well as highlighting that the last court ruling confirmed the second nationalization was also null and void.