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Public companies hit by fee rise

Registrar and transfer agent increasing administrative fees for BISX-listees
Guardian Business Editor

Published: Oct 08, 2013

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The Bahamas Central Securities Depository is seeking to increase its fees for registrar and transfer agent services on publicly-listed companies, a move which could see some companies paying tens of thousands of dollars more in fees annually to the BCSD.

In a letter sent to companies, the BCSD said it had carried out a “comprehensive review” of its fee structure and has received approval from the Securities Commission of The Bahamas to implement the fees for all companies for whom it provides registrar and transfer agent services.

The decision to increase fees, while not a major cost increase for companies, is being viewed by some listed companies as coming at a bad time given the numerous other impacts on businesses cost structure, such as new customs fees, higher business license fees and National Insurance Board costs, and the impending implementation of value-added tax (VAT).

“It’s not acceptable,” said one listed company.

The company suggested that, by and large, regulated companies “bear the brunt” of cost increases in their relations with the government, while small businesses “fly under the radar”.

Another company, however, said the increases would not have a “material impact” on their finances.

Fees relating to ordinary shares will increase by 37 percent for companies with one to 1,000 shareholders, from $17.50 to $24 per shareholder. Fees relating to ordinary shares for companies with 1,001 to 1,500 shareholders will rise by 108 percent from $12.50 to $26 per holder.

Dividend processing fees will rise from $1.50 per shareholder to $4.50, a 200 percent increase. This would lead to dividend payment processing fees for a company with 1,500 shareholders rising from $2,250 to $6,750.

The letter also indicates that “new fees” will be applied in relation to the registration of preferred shares and other fixed income securities, of $2,000 per register for a company of 1 to 300 shareholders; $3,000 per register for a company of 301 to 500 shareholders, and $6,000 for any company of 501 to 1,000 shareholders.

According to the BCSD, the last fee increase at the organization took place in 2000.

BCSD President Stafford Greene declined to comment on the fee increases when contacted by this newspaper last week.

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