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Chairman Alfonso gone

By VERNE BURNETT Tuesday, May 13 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Off to work: First Citizens employees head back to work after the bank's AGM at NAPA, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. ...
Off to work: First Citizens employees head back to work after the bank's AGM at NAPA, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. ...

Attorney Nyere Alfonso is no longer chairman of First Citizens Bank.

Her term of office expired yesterday at the bank’s annual general meeting and she did not offer herself for re-election.

Also gone from the board is another director, Rishi Baddaloo, whose term also expired and who also chose not to offer himself for re-election. Two other directors, whose terms also expired, did offer themselves for re-election, but were rejected by the bank’s shareholders. They were Shobee Jacelon and Marlene Juman.

The retirement of the chairman and Baddaloo and the non-election of Jacelon and Juman were among the major outcomes of the hotly anticipated and well-attended annual general meeting which was held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port-of-Spain.

The remaining directors are Anthony Mohammed; Vishnu D K Musai; Larry Nath (Group CEO and managing director); Ramish Ramanand; Ved Seereeram and John Tang Nian.

Another major decision was the expansion of the Board of Directors to 15 members with the additional members to represent the interest of the minority shareholders who bought shares in the controversial recent initial public offering (IPO). The representative of the Corporation Sole, which remains the major shareholder with 80 percent of the voting stock in the bank, supported the decision of the meeting.

The representative of the Corporation Sole told shareholders that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) will be held within 30 days to fill the vacancies created by the decision to expand the board.

Two of the country’s major business organisations, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association have been chosen to nominate people acceptable to the Corporation Sole to fill the vacancies.

Anticipating objection to the choice of the two organisations on the grounds that they represent the country’s old business classes, one observer remarked the two business bodies are no longer the same as they were when they were established but their memberships today include many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as sole traders.

Deputy chairman, Anil Seeterram, a chartered accountant, will lead the board until the special EGM is held.

The meeting, held in the Lord Kitchener auditorium at NAPA, attracted a bumper turnout. Nath put the attendance at 350 persons.

Shareholder activist Peter Permell said he was gratified at the turnout. He was congratulated by many of the minority shareholders after the meeting for his outspoken advocacy of their cause during the meeting. Many of them urged him to take a position on the First Citizens board, a proposal which he rejected, saying he wanted to be the voice of the “voiceless” shareholders.

Permell said the outcome of the meeting was “a watershed day for corporate governance in Trinidad and Tobago.”

“The Corporation Sole has done the correct thing, he has made the correct decision. I think after weeks of pressure which has been brought to bear on this particular Board of Directors, it was inevitable that he would have had to have those particular directors removed or he would not have supported their re-election to office, and I want to commend the Minister of Finance and by extension the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for doing the right thing and doing the right thing by the minority shareholders of this country,” he said.

Nath described the meeting as “spirited and passionate with a lot of frank and candid views” expressed about the current issues facing the bank. However, he added that the shareholders’ meeting was also “respectful, courteous and ended peacefully.” He said it began peacefully and ended peacefully and all the business of the AGM was completed.

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