Telemedia valuation complete Print
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Thursday, 27 October 2011 00:00

BTL Headquarters (inset) PM in House MeetingThe Prime Minister Hon. Dean Barrow announced at the House Meeting held on Friday October 21st that the government’s valuation process for BTL has been completed.

Government retained the services of NERA, a group of professional international valuators who have come up with a report that places BTL’s values on acquisition at either 116.4 million dollars or 71.3 million dollars. The Prime Minister explained that the value of 71.3 million dollars is arrived at if it is determined that a 25 million dollar loan made to BTL by the Belize Bank is determined to be legal. For now all legal advice on the matter given to government has deemed that the loan transaction was illegal. Then there is the other value assigned to BTL of 116.4 million dollars if the transaction is illegal.

All along, from the time government took control of BTL in August of 2008 government has maintained that BTL was actually valued far less than what the Ashcroft alliance has said it was worth. The value that the alliance had placed on BTL was in the region of 300 million dollars. The NERA valuation has now sent that figure through the door. And there is no way the company could have been worth that much considering the fact that it was being used as a milking cow. Just to point to a couple of examples of how this was being done; management fees to the tune of millions of dollars were being drained from BTL on a consistent basis. SMART was also being turned into the dominant provider at the expense of BTL with premium tower space being rented to that company at a fraction of what it actually cost to do so.

Now the NERA report has confirmed the value of BTL. At the house meeting the Prime Minister pointed out that BTL shares were sold at 5 dollars each when in fact the valuation at the time of the takeover of the company was at $1.46. The PM told the nation that, “if you want to know how we could have sold it for $5.00 a share when NERA said when we acquired it, it was only worth $1.46, because we sold it after we took it over and cleaned up the mess and turned it once again into a properly run, profitable company that is not sending all the money to management companies in London, also owned by Chichester. ” The Prime Minister concluded that 75 million dollars has been retained as a result of the sale of shares and that money will be used to cover the value of BTL.

It is however a matter that is to be decided by the courts as there is not a shred of doubt that Ashcroft will be challenging what the value of BTL is in the courts.

It is noteworthy that the same NERA group is the one that is doing the valuation for Belize Electricity Limited. Prime Minister Barrow explained to the House that in fact the former owners of BEL had approached the NERA group to do a valuation for BEL however the government had already engaged them to do the same and Fortis had to go elsewhere for a valuation.