Saturday, April 2, 2011

Grand Bahamians can become shareholders in Commonwealth Brewery

By K. NANCOO-RUSSELL
Freeport, Grand BAHAMA- Members of the business community received information about how they can become part shareholders in a multi-million dollar company during a presentation Wednesday.

Executives of the Commonwealth Brewery Limited and Royal Fidelity were the guest speakers at the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce's (GBCC) meeting at the Ruby Swiss Restaurant and they explained how individuals can purchase some of the 25 percent of shares in the brewery that are available.

GBCC First Vice President John Swain said the Chamber was pleased to offer its members the chance to learn more about how they can become part owners in such a large company.

"We're always looking for opportunities for our members to invest our funds in businesses that are really profitable and really a sound investment," Swain said.

"With the economic recession, we haven't fully come through it, but still there are people who have held back certain funds, and now that we are looking forward to a brighter future, they are looking for ways to secure their money and put it in a place where they know that it would not diminish but would have a better return."

Managing Director of Commonwealth Brewery Leroy Archer explained that interested persons can purchase a minimum of 100 shares for $833.

The company has no debt, he boasted, and pays out 100 percent of net profit on an annual basis, with shareholders receiving a 7.7 percent return on their investment last year.

"Whether you're the worker in the hotel, or the taxi driver or whether you are the manager, we want to make sure that we make the shares affordable," he said.

"We want to encourage them to move from being consumers to being owners so that when they buy their three for five, or they buy their three for six, they can say 'I'm investing in my company and enjoying the brands that I own.'"

Archer said the company was excited about the chance to educate the public about the process of share ownership.

"It's like if you purchase a television, and you watch that television for seven years, you don't get any return from it. If you purchase these shares, be assured you will get some cash for it for every year going forward, and probably at the end of seven years, you will have that share paid off and you can actually sell it at a higher price," he said.

Greg Walker, vice president of corporate finance at Royal Fidelity, the financial institution through which the application for purchase of the shares must be submitted, said he believes the company's 100 dividend payout policy will be attractive to potential inves-tors.

"We feel that this is a great company that is mature, it generates significant amounts of cash flow, it's well operated and the company has done very, very well at managing itself through the economic downturn and in fact have increased both their operating income and their net income," he said.

Swain said he believes more education is needed for the public to understand the benefits of share ownership, so that the investment market will become more vibrant.

"I still think there needs to be more education in this area, because you find that a lot of people, they hear about something like this but they don't know what it means," he said.

"They may have the money there, but leave it on a fixed deposit getting a two percent return on it whereas if they were to invest it in a company like this, they would have a larger return on the same money over a shorter period of time."

Swain noted that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham recently announced that shares in The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) will soon be made available to the public, and said this is a prime example of why that awareness is necessary.

"We need to be educated. We have to look at other opportunities out there where we can invest our money," he said.

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