Lok Jack calls on shareholders to stay the course

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, June 27, 2007 – The Trinidad conglomerate, Neal and Massy, wants shareholders of the Barbados Shipping & Trading (BS&T) to stay focused when they meet today and vote in favour of a merger between the two.


Neal & Massy Chairman, Arthur Lok Jack, wants them to dismiss a counter offer by another Trinidadian conglomerate, ANSA McAL, which is wooing them with an offer of BDS$7 per share – more than Neal & Massy is offering. Neal & Massy is already a major shareholder in BS&T with a 22% stake.


Lok Jack said if the other shareholders decided to take ANSA McAL’s offer, it will sell off its stake in the Barbados conglomerate.


His comments come on the heels of the Neal & Massy shareholder meeting in Trinidad & Tobago on Monday when all the resolutions regarding the merger were passed unanimously. BS&T shareholders are due to meet today, but will have much more to consider in their deliberations with the offer from Trinidad’s largest conglomerate now in the mix.


Speaking in Barbados at the BS&T headquarters on Tuesday, Lok Jack said Ansa McAl was not offering shareholders any stake in that business or part of the Trinidad economy, just cash which depreciates. However, he said the planned amalgamation between Barbadian conglomerate, BS&T and energy and industrial giant, Neal & Massy would give them an opportunity to own shares in a fast growing company, and diversification in a country whose economy is also quickly growing.


In a statement issued on Tuesday, ANSA McCaL suggested that its offer was more advantageous than the proposed merger since it is 33% more than what its competitor has on the table, 37% higher than the BS&T share price, and gives shareholders cash in hand to invest as they see fit. Neal & Massy is offering a face-value trade on shares – one of their shares for every 2.75 of BS&Ts. Neal and Massey share price is worth about 2.75 times that of BS&Ts BDS$5.51.


It says a comprehensive offer document will be delivered to shareholders on or before the middle of next month.


If that offer is accepted and Ansa gains controlling interest in BS&T, Neal & Massy which owns 22% of BS&T shares, does not plan to accept such an alliance with its competitor.


“We are competitors to McAL in Trinidad and therefore we don’t see ourselves being in a minority interest in anything to do with McAL and I’m sure that McAL would tell you the same thing too.”


Meantime, Lok Jack says BS&T has still received no correspondence from ANSA and it will continue efforts to complete the merger which had been in the making for months before being announced last month, and which has already been granted the requisite approvals by the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission and the Barbados Securities Commission.