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Heritage Bank clarifies status amid rumors of share sale

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2023. 10:02 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Heritage Bank Limited says it is stable and not for sale – but its managing director has confirmed that shares in an associated entity are.

Stephen Duncan told LOVE FM on Tuesday that “The bank is not being sold,” referring to Heritage Bank Limited which is the successor to the Alliance Bank of Belize. However, the Heritage International Bank which was started as the Provident Bank in 1998 by attorney Glenn D. Godfrey has 37 percent of its share capital held by the Antigua Overseas Bank. Each company has a specific and separate license for its operations.

In the case of Heritage International, Antigua Overseas has been in receivership for ten years and is now being liquidated, including “valuable” share capital, but the domestic bank, in Duncan’s words, “[has] no direct input into that.”

Duncan added that the potential purchaser would not control either bank with the purchase, as majority shareholder and chairman Richard Sutton has no plans to sell. He also confirmed that there has been no discussion with the so-called “Ashcroft Alliance” about plans to buy the shares; both the Belize Bank Limited and the former Scotiabank (Belize) Limited, run separately as the Belize Bank Corporation Limited, are controlled by that group.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance John Briceno said that Government would take an interest in the deal to ensure that the banking sector is not jeopardized but the entity best placed to review the matter is the Central Bank of Belize.

Duncan further explained the Central Bank’s role to Channel 7 News: “Clearly under Belize’s law, the Central Bank has to have a say in that, so whoever they find that they wish to sell the shares to, Central Bank will have to make a determination, putting that people through the normal fit and proper due diligence and that type of thing will happen. Also at the bank level, the bylaws of the bank has what is called the preemptive rights in that shares ought to be first offered to existing shareholders before they go to a new shareholder.” He also noted that “the bank is now more attractive to potential investors based on our steady continuous performance for the last 11 years.”

Heritage along with Belize Bank (and Belize Bank Corporation) and Atlantic Bank are the last standing domestic banks in Belize following Scotia Bank’s departure last year.

 

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