NCB customers’ caustic comments

Banks in Jamaica make huge profits in a country with most person’s earnings just allowing them to meet minimum living standards, if not less. In short, banks are not loved as people think they prey on them.
Some responses to IC’s article on NCB Financial‘s first quarter results to December last year was revealing and indicate that the bank has much work to do to appease its customers. The reality is that a visit to banks on a typical day is a journey in frustration for many, even at a time when electronic banking is on the rise.
One major outcry of many in recent times has been that bank charges for some services and the most vexing of all is the charge for dormant accounts. A big part of the problem seems to be that these large financial institutions don’t communicate well with customers and for other they feel that big banks don’t care.
The complaints we had online relate to customer service generally— long waits for service in the banking hall and poor online experience.
We list edited versions of the main comments. “Their customer service is the worst. I’m in NCB Spanish Town from the opening at 8.30, at 10.33 I am still to get through. Any time one comes to NCB just don’t have any other plans for the day.”

Sagicor Bank after more than 6 months have not reversed erroneous charge on credit card account.

Referring to the multi-billion profit, one reader said “none of it is going to customer service… They still have the worst customer service in my opinion, both online or in line.
And yet another said, “that is expected, considering that interests rates on credit cards are 40 percent and interest on savings is 0.4 percent. In order to get that interest rate, the deposit has to be at least $50,000. The same customer complained about waiting. “Customer service is the worst. I waited over an hour recently to speak to a rep. Sad…can’t wait to find another option.”
And yet another had this to say, “it’s a pity that their online banking is so poorly constructed and maintained, that beyond getting a statement, it’s virtually useless. They questioned as to the reason why the Midas Card cannot be used to pay bills online?
Another “they don’t think people have anything to do. The customer service rep moves really slowly and them need more. BNS Spanish is much better when it’s comes to customer service.”
“ I don’t have an account with them and never will from what I heard time and again to be the worst bank” and the last is one from someone who is not a customer, “I don’t have an account with them and I don’t want one.
While the responses are from a few persons, a visit to most banks will confirm that they reflect the concerns of many Jamaicans. Then, the banks will say they want customers to migrate to online banking but if customers are having problems there as well, the problem may be much bigger than the bank results suggest.
The case is told of Sagicor Bank, payment on a credit card was done in July 2017, on time to two accounts. The payment for one was correctly credited but not the other, although both were paid with one cheque. After more than two weeks, the bank credited the account but the late fee was not reversed and up to February of this year, it still has not been reversed after several contacts with the bank about it. It is difficult to understand why the bank, having determined that an error is made by them, doesn’t automatically correct the charges.

NCB locked up Guardian from 2016

NCB Financial Group locked up the majority ownership in Guardian Holdings from as far back as May 2016, when they acquired 29.99 percent of the group’s shares, the maximum they could acquire without triggering a take bid clause that would require them to make an offer for all of the issued shares.
Funding the full offer, would have been a problem at the time and NCBFG would need Bank of Jamaica approval to do so which might not have been granted at that time. According to the offer document from the NCB Group to acquire up to 62 percent of the shares, “in May 2016 NCBFG acquired the entities which held the offeror’s shares from affiliates of Arthur Lok Jack, Imitaz Ahamad and International Finance Corporation. Pursuant to such transaction, Arthur Lok Jack, Imitaz Ahamad and their respective holding companies agreed that they would tender their respective shares in GHL to NCBFG upon NCBFG making a tender offer to all Guardian shareholders.”
Shares held by the two sellers are close to 22 percent of the issued shares of the Guardian Group which will be enough for NCB group to hold the majority of at least 32 percent. The price of US$2.35 is below the price the stock trades in Trinidad at, as such is not expected that many shareholders other than those mentioned above and a few other will be tendering shares.

Party leads to chaos on airport road

Hundred of Jamaicans and other travelers scheduled to depart Norman Manley airport on New year’s day, missed their flights, having been caught in a huge traffic jam for more than five hours tonight on their way to the airport.
One passenger who missed their flight that was scheduled to leave at 8 PM, due to the chaotic situation, was still on the road going towards he airport at 11.15 PM and was some distance from it, having left Kingston from 6 o’clock in the evening.
“There are four lanes of traffic going to the airport and one going to Harbour View,” the passenger reported.
This is happening on a road that normally has just two official lanes.
Closer to the airport one report is that there are five lanes of traffic trying to leave from the airport. Reports are that there are few police on the scene regulating traffic and that the evidence of the pile up started from as far back from 4 PM.
The problem was due to a party that was held in the area  that apparently attracted scores of patrons with inadequate policing by the security forces and traffic piling up well beyond the airport on the Port Royal Road.

When the market speaks

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Markets have a way of telling stories that confound many. In May 2014of that year, the local market declined to reach 76,344.27 points on June 23, after reaching 86,590 points in mid-March.
Some investors thought the market was going to crash with some pulling funds out and moving into foreign exchange investments. The technical reading pointed in a different direction, the market by then had hit bottom and was not only heading up but much, much higher. One big clue, the market was caught in a triangular formation, a tell-tale sign of a big break out. The signal was very clear from September.
An article published on this site in September 2014 said “Technically, the main market is seeing the short term moving average on the verge of crossing the medium term moving average, a bullish sign. Importantly, many listed companies have posted some attractive results for 2014 that is supportive of an upward push in their stock price.” The rest is history as the market slowly crept higher to 84,084.94 and the slow recovery morphed into a strong bull market starting early in 2015.
Recently, the market has been sending out strong signals, one is that the main market is heading for the 500,000 points market, that is 60 percent away from the current level. The other signal to have emanated from the market, was the clear message that was pointing the major error the directors of Berger Paints were making in recommending the sale of shares by minority shareholders.

The stock market is sending a very strong message that a stock split is inevitable for NCB Financial by early 2018.

The market sent the message but some investors did not listen resulting in the surrender of 6.6 million units at a vastly reduced value to its true valuation. It is not surprising that the stock now trades at $15
At an investors’ briefing this year, the NCB Financial Group’s executives said they saw no benefit to the company of a stock split. IC had written a piece indicating that a split is baked into the price already and could not be avoided. On Friday and Monday, the market sent and even clearer message to the directors that it cannot be delayed with the stock price jumping record $108 with only small amounts being offered for sale.

Met Opera Live hits a high-note on screen

Photo: James Levine, Conductor with
Golda Schultz; Kathryn Lewek; Charles Castronovo; Markus Werba; Christian Van Horn; Tobias Kehrer & René Pape in
Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte”; dress rehearsal photographed: Wednesday, September 20, 2017; 11:00 AM at The Metropolitan Opera; New York, NY. Photograph: © 2017 Richard Termine
PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine

Palace Amusement Company, a Jamaica Stock Exchange listed company presents Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), a delightful opera at Carib 5 in Cross Roads, this Saturday October 14th.
The opera that starts at 11:55 am will be transmitted live in HD from the Met in New York, features the legendary James Levine conducting Tony Award winner Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s masterpiece, Die Zauberflöte. The young prince Tamino, finds himself in a strange land, forced to undergo mysterious tests so he can rescue, then marry, the woman he loves, Pamina. Golda Schultz plays Pamina with Charles Castronovo as prince Tamino, Markus Werba as Papageno, Christian Van Horn as Sprecher, and René Pape as Sarastro.
If you missed last week’s live transmission of Bellini’s Norma, catch the encore this Sunday, 11:30 am at Palace Cineplex. Norma, tells the story of a high Priestess (Norma) who has secretly broken her vows to love Pollione, a Roman. Norma becomes revengeful as she learns of her lover’s affairs with her protégé, Adalgisa. Sondra Radvanovsky plays the titular role, Joyce DiDonato is her archrival, Adalgisa and Tenor Joseph Calleja is Pollione -Norma’s unfaithful lover.

Sondra Radvanovsky and Joseph Calleja in Bellini’s “Norma.

The Met: Live in HD launched its twelfth season Saturday, October 7, 2017 with Bellini Norma, taking in an estimated attendance of 71,581 in North America and earning a gross of $1.5 million. It was seen live on more than 900 screens. An estimated additional 111,760 people saw it live on 800 screens in 37 countries in Europe, 11 countries in Latin America, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, and for the first time live to Belarus and Ukraine.
Alternative Content – MoBay| For the next four months Montegonians will get back in on the action from Palace Amusement’s Alternative Content. For a limited time only, Palace Multiplex will be bringing your favourite National Theatre Live plays starting with the must-see, Obsession starring Jude Law, this Thursday at 6:00 pm. Tickets are available at box office or online at

Drama Action Adventure at the movies

Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan star in the action thriller, The Foreigner

The Jamaica Stock Exchange listed movie house, Palace Amusement releases an eclectic array of films targeting audiences of all ages this week. Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan star in the action thriller, The Foreigner.
A humble businessman with a buried past, seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers’ identities.
Grabbing the interest of the youngest demography is, My Little Pony: The Movie. After 30 years in our homes, and seven seasons of television adventures, the ponies are gracing the big screen in an epic journey, as they embark on a mission to save their home Equestria. The film features the voices of Golden Globe® winner Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Liev Schreiber, Zoe Saldana Taye Diggs and eight-time Grammy® nominee, Sia Furler.

Taye Diggs and Annie Ilonzeh in ‘Till Death Do Us Part

Taye Diggs proves his versatility as he moves from the role of a ‘cool cat’ in My Little Pony to the charming suitor, Alex Stone in the hit film, ‘Til Death Do Us Part. Newlyweds-Michael (Steven Bishop) and Maddison Roland (Annie Ilonzeh) revel in their seemingly perfect marriage until Michael began to show his abusive and controlling ways. Reaching her breaking point, Maddison decides to escape her abusive husband. After adopting a new identity, she meets Alex Stone, and falls in love with him. Her happiness was immediately shattered when her abusive husband learns of her whereabouts and recreates the nightmare she once lived in.

Minority deserves better

SOS directors released June’s quarterly results even though the JSE rules require the first report to be relased for the September quarter.

The investing public seems not to be treated with the respect it deserves. It appears that many companies thing of investors last, not recognizing that they are shareholders just like the majority owners.
The last persons seen are the first to be remembered and is equivalent to out of sight out of mind. That seems to be the case with shareholders in the Caribbean. Newly listed Stationery & Office Supplies release of the June quarterly report although not required by the Jamaica Stock Exchange is an example of good corporate governance and is to be applauded.
In Trinidad for example, there is little liquidity in that market and the directors refuse to do anything about it. In Jamaica many companies tend to stick with the minimum regulations of the stock exchange, even when the recent examples in Jamaica say how important it is to ensure that there is adequate liquidity in the market.
The current regulation for listings in Jamaica, is for new listed companies to file their first quarterly report in the quarter ending after listing. The rule is inadequate to protect investors. Information is critical for the capital market to function properly, as such investors should not have to wait more than two quarters to get a quarterly report. In 2016, there was the very poor decision by Wentworth Graham the then head of the regulatory arm of the Jamaica Stock Exchange to permit 1834 Investments to wrongly withhold the December quarterly report from the public. This was based on improper interpretation of the rules relating to the release of financial information.

Main Event release their first report in June after their January IPO.

Earlier this year Main Event issued their IPO and included interim results to September 2016, with the year end of October. The IPO was in January but it was not until June that shareholders had information on the out turn of the operations for 2016 as well as for the first quarter this year. As it turned out, profit of $60 million at the 11 month period melted down to $56.5 million for the full year. The audited report was only signed on the June 5, more than 7 months after the year end while the first quarter results were never released but the second quarter to April was released within the deadline of June 15.
The management of Stationery & Office Supplies may have had a lot to shout about with pretax profit jumping 146 percent to $20.3 million for the June quarter this year and hence the release of the results to Jamaica Stock Exchange in less than a month of listing on the Junior Market.
Under the stock exchange rules it need not have put out the six months report having been listed in August. Some persons may see it as self interest in the release, but there is no evidence of that. The release provides the investing public with pertinent information in a timely manner, on which they can make their investment decisions. The hope is that the Jamaica Stock Exchange rules will be strengthened quickly to ensure that pertinent information is release on a timely basis to the public.

Sharp out Noel in at Scotia Jamaica

Change at Scotia Group top slot.

Scotia Group (SGJL) announced that Jackie Sharp, President and Chief Executive Officer and Head of Caribbean Central and North, will be leaving to join her family business, effective October 31.
In August 2013, the group appointed Sharp as its first female president and CEO, effective September of that year. Sharp was also appointed a director of the SGJ and the Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica.
As CEO it not only marked the first female to be appointed to that post but the first person who did not have an early career start in the bank to make it to the top executive post, her rise is sharp indeed, taking a mere 15 years after joining the bank. The resignation brings her career at the financial group to 20 years.

Jacqueline Sharp

According to the release from the group, Jackie Sharp joined the group in 1997 as a Management Trainee and held a number of key positions including Private Banking, Insurance, and Finance, before assuming the Country Head role, and most recently Head of Scotiabank’s Caribbean Central and North covering Jamaica, Bahamas, Cayman, Belize, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Jackie has made significant contributions to Scotiabank and the community over the years, achieving strong financial results while becoming one of the most respected leaders in the financial sector in Jamaica and the Caribbean”, said Brendan King, Senior Vice President, International Banking, Scotiabank. “We are very grateful for her dedication, consummate leadership and passion over many years at the Bank, and wish her well in her new endeavours as she joins her family business in Jamaica.”
In the first year of her reign Scotia Group Jamaica reported a fall of $774 million or 7 percent in net income to $10.1 billion for the year ended October 2014. Profit rose 14 profit to $11.6 billion for the 2016 year from $10.1 billion in 2015.
Scotia’s closest competitor on the other hand for the year to September 2014 enjoyed a 36 percent, or $3.1 billion increase to $11.6 billion and made profit of $14.4 billion in 2016 versus $12.3 billion in 2015 for a rise of 17.5 percent.

David Noel

Scotia results for six months to April showed profit up 14 percent to $5.7 billion while NCB grew 58 percent to $9.5 billion.
Sharp is being replaced by David Noel as President and Chief Executive Officer, and Head of the Caribbean Central and North regions. Noel joined Scotiabank in Jamaica in 2001 as Legal Counsel before moving to Canada in 2008 on a leadership development rotation in Toronto.
In 2010, he took on the role of District Vice President for East New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. He returned to Toronto in 2012 where he worked in Global Risk Management. In 2013 he was appointed Managing Director, Caribbean East, leading the Bank’s operations in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. In November 2016, he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Scotia Group with responsibility for the subsidiary units, including retail and commercial banking, life insurance, investment management and brokerage, micro-finance and mortgages.

Offer for Berger not serious

Minority shareholders in the Jamaican based Berger Paints have been made an offer to purchase the 104,990,171 ordinary shares that are not owned by the Trinidad based, Ansa McAl group.
The offer is priced at $10.88 per share, well below the price the stock has been trading at for most of 2017 and ever since the company posted strong increased nine months results in early February, re-enforced by earnings of $1.47 per shares for the full year to March, from a 15 percent increase in revenue. With an 11 percent increase in the first quarter to June this year to $23.4 million even as sales declined due to what the company says to inadequate cement supplies.
According to the offer document, from February 12 and March 11 this year, 659,600 units were traded between $10.99 and $13.56. A total of 834,100 units were traded from March 12 to April 11 at $11.41 to $14.49, thereafter until August 11, the trading range was $13.01 to a high of $23.90 with more than 2 million shares trading. In trading in the early morning session on Thursday 65,035 units were sold down to $13.

Berger Paints traded at a 52 weeks’ high of $23.50 earlier this year.

The offer document states that if the group gets 80 percent or more of issued shares, then they will apply to the Jamaica Stock Exchange to have the shares delisted. That of course is an unlikely development at the current offer price. More than 64 million shares or 30 percent of the issued shares are owned by savvy investors comprising 6 shareholders who are unlikely to accept such a low offer. Any success must have the consent of the majority of these holders.
Local stocks are trading at an average of more than 13 times 2017 earnings and that would place a value of Berger shares at $19 to $22 per share. Going forward, with economic activities picking up, profits should rise even more than at the current levels and would put the value of the stock at a higher level than the above range.

An Inconvenient Sequel premiere postponed

Former vice president Al Gore promotes his new movie, a follow-up to his 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.

The Palace Amusement Company wishes to apologise for the postponement of the Premiere of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, scheduled by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) for July 27, 2017.
The company stated that they have been unable to secure the hard drive containing the film for reasons beyond their control. A new date is to be set when the films becomes available and all tickets for the premiere will remain valid.
The apology is extended to all stakeholders involved with the planning and execution of the premiere, as well as patrons who have purchased tickets. Palace regrets the inconvenience caused and appreciate your understanding those involved.
Al Gore has reemerged to continue his fight, traveling around the world to train an army of activists and influence international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.