BWIA shareholders slam 'disrespectful' Govt offer

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BWIA shareholders slam 'disrespectful' Govt offer

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BWIA shareholders slam 'disrespectful' Govt offer
Aretha Welch awelch@trinidadexpress.com
Monday, August 3rd 2009

BWIA's minority shareholders have concluded that they will be taking the State to court to get a better price for their shares in now defunct BWIA International Airways Ltd, as they find the 20 cents offer the Government is proposing "disrespectful."

But first the group's representatives are going to write to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking them to rethink their decision not to get involved in the matter because BWIA is now a defunct, delisted company.

This from minority shareholder advocate, Peter Permell.

Permell said yesterday, while talking to the Express, "Most of those shareholders purchased the stocks at $7.80. Then you had the Government selling them at a discounted price of 20 cents before the company was delisted, but this was never the real value of the shares, it was a discount."

He said the last price at which the shares were traded before the delisting was 97 cents, and that showed that the shares were not worthless though BWIA was bankrupt.

Permell said that at least 1800 former employees have shares in the company that were purchased with their pension funds and as such this offer was "a slap in the face" to employees who dedicated their lives to the company.

The minority shareholders group held a meeting yesterday at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann's.

Permel said the decision to take the struggle for a more equitable share price as far as the courts was unanimous among the persons who attended, and thus far less than 500 of the over 4,000 shareholders who make up the minority group have signed on to accept the Government's ex-gratia offer of 20 cents per share.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne said on Friday that the Government was not budging from its offer, however, even in the face of possible legal action.

The Minister also said that there was no plan to offer BWIA's shareholders a share of Caribbean Airlines, as there is no issue of succession because BWIA was bankrupt in the end.
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