Huge 44% drop in Jamaicans murdered

Murders in Jamaica have plummeted by a huge 44 percent in the first 14 days of 2019, compared to the similar period in 2018.
According to Radio Jamaica murders for the first 14 days of 2018 is 37. In 2018, Television Jamaica reported in 2018, that Police Crime Statistics reported that Jamaica recorded 61 murders between January 1 and 13, last year. When the data is adjusted to reflect similar number of days, the rate of decline  over last year is an incredible 44 percent and now places murders below 1,000 per annum if the trend should hold. The data is for just a few days of the year and may or may not hold but the dramatic decline is worth watching.
RJR was reporting on an increase in murders in Trinidad and Tobago, with homicides hitting 20 as of Wednesday morning and compares to Jamaica with a population twice the size of Trinidad and Tobago that recorded 37 murders as at January 14.

Sterling must change rights deadline

Sterling Investments

Jamaicans have the view that the local capital market is regulated but developments taking place in the country, suggest that they may be dead wrong.
Fontana goes to the market with an IPO and raises funds but the prospectus sates what will happen with multiple applications from one person or company, but the release from the broker handling the issue announces an allocation that is at variance with the terms of the prospectus. Almost two weeks have passed but there is no correction of the error, even as the JSE listing committee is expected to meet on Friday to approve the listing on the market, expected to take place on the January 9.
Sterling Investments is offering shareholders rights to subscribe for more shares at $3.08 with the opening date being January 4, 2019 with the last date for renunciation of rights and closing for existing shareholders being January 11.
On the surface that seems fine but shareholders are yet to receive their offer document and many will not get tit by the deadline date. The company should take the proper action and extend the deadline date. What is unfortunate is that the company is putting shareholders at a disadvantage to non-shareholders by given the latter a much longer time to apply for shares while shareholders are given very little time. It should be the other way around.
Thankfully, the matter of Barita Investments attempting to issue rights based purely on terms determined by directors has been withdrawn and is to go before shareholders at a general meeting. There should never be any doubt that shareholders must determine changes in the capital of a public company. After all, issuing of new shares can mean dilution of ownership interest. Some lawyers state that section 65 of the Company’s Act requiring a general meeting of shareholders for changes in share capital does not apply to the increase issue of new share but to the authorised share capital is incredible when the former has no impact on shareholders’ interest but the latter does.

Earth quake in upper St Andrew

Citizens fell an earthquake in upper St Andrew around 1.43 PM on Sunday. The quake that lasted a few seconds shook buildings in the area but there was no immediate signs of physical damage.

The quake that was first felt as a minor tremor, subsequently increased in intensity, to a level that the rattling of buildings could be heard.  Reports so far, are that it was felt as far as Clarendon.

Banks love Turks & Caicos most

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Turks & Caicos Islands is the destination by far, that banks and non-banks are most bullish about, according to data disclosed by the KPMG Carib Tourism 2018 survey.
Following Turks & Caicos, the financiers were bullish on Cayman Islands, then Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda with Bermuda in fifth spot.
“When we looked at which destination in the Caribbean financiers are most bullish about there were 16 different destinations put forward of which only 7 were nominated by both bank and non-banks,” KPMG said. KPMG went on to state,”this further corroborates the position seen in recent years that the financing landscape has changed and that the new landscape involves financiers favoring a small number of jurisdictions for whatever reason rather than financing projects across the entire region”
The survey stated that airlift was the number one factor that considered important followed by ability to recover for hurricanes speedily.
“For banks the second most important issues were the ability to recover from hurricanes (88 percent) and outdated infrastructure (88 percent). Non-banks were unanimous (100 percent) in terms of the importance of crime and the ability to recover from hurricanes.”

Strong appetite for funding hotels

KPMG 2018 Caribbean Tourism survey findings showed a strong appetite by financing new and existing tourism related projects within the Caribbean region.
The findings stated that, “one of the most positive set of results the was in response to a question as to what appetite financiers had for issuing senior debt for different types of tourism related projects in the Caribbean.”
Nearly 90 percent of banks and all nonbank respondents said they had a positive appetite for issuing senior debt to existing hotels for refinancing, expansion and renovation. Approximately 86 percent of non-banks had a positive attitude towards financing acquisitions as did 67 percent of non-banks. Not surprisingly, new builds were a more difficult category to register a positive attitude but 33 percent of banks and 43 percent of non-banks had a positive appetite for new builds. “These are really high percentages, particularly for financing existing hotels and acquisitions. Whereas previously financing applications for new builds were almost dismissed entirely, a sufficient critical mass of financiers are now willing to consider such applications,” KPMG team stated.

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

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