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PM urges BOB expansion into Family Islands

Tells bank to ‘go as quickly as you can’ to Bimini
  • The prime minister is pictured at the Balmoral Club with BOB’s chairman and executive management team. Pictured from left are Paul McWeeney, managing director, BOB; Hubert Edwards, deputy managing director, BOB; Renee Davis, deputy managing director, BOB; Vaughn Delaney, senior deputy managing director, BOB; Prime Minister Perry Christie; Wayde Christie, chief operations officer, BOB; Leashawn McPhee, acting deputy managing director, BOB and Richard C. Demeritte, chairman, BOB board of directors. WENDELL CLEARE

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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Prime Minister Perry Christie urged the leadership of Bank of The Bahamas Limited (BOB) to consider further expansion into the Family Islands in the very near future.

He made this request while speaking at the bank’s 25th anniversary reception at the Balmoral Club.

The prime minister said the original vision of the bank was to ensure that Bahamians were participants in the economy; therefore, BOB’s major shareholder the government sold 49 percent of its shares to the Bahamian public in a series of offerings soon after its creation.

He said that over the years the bank has made itself relevant by moving into five other islands besides New Providence and Grand Bahama, however, he understands that BOB is not in Abaco or Bimini.

“Bimini is a very dynamic and growing economy, and I have indicated to its leadership that BOB must be there and be there as soon as possible. By the end of the year, 800 new jobs would have been created in Bimini for Bahamians. The developers have bought a cruise ship to bring 400,000 visitors to Bimini a year… the developers have also decided to lengthen the (airport’s) runway. BOB should not wait to see if other banks go in, go as quickly as you can,” Christie said.

The prime minister added he found it interesting that BOB is not in Abaco, the third largest economy of The Bahamas. He said the government is putting millions of dollars into infrastructure in Abaco and is keeping commitments made to that island by the former government.

“There is no reason why the bank should not go into Abaco and let me say that is a polite request.”

The prime minister further stated that BOB should prepare for increased economic activity in two islands where the bank already has a presence - Grand Bahama and San Salvador. In Grand Bahama, he said it is expected that 1,000 new jobs will be created when the Reef Village hotel reopens in January.

He also said he will soon travel to San Salvador to announce a major development that will reposition that island. He noted that the development will require investment in infrastructure by the government and the private sector including refueling facilities and a control tower to accommodate direct flights from Paris.

Also speaking at BOB’s 25th anniversary reception, the bank’s Chairman Richard Demeritte said BOB’s Silver Jubilee is a great achievement for The Bahamas in its economic development and in the process of nation building.

“Since its creation, BOB has grown from $90 million in assets to more than $890 million as of June 30, 2013, from three locations to 13 branches, from serving two islands to a presence on seven, and from providing the most basic of retail banking services to the most comprehensive of financial products in personal, corporate and private banking,” Demeritte stated.

The chairman added that BOB has reaped substantial profits for its 4,000 shareholders and especially for its major shareholder, the government, resulting in indirect benefits for all Bahamians and for the entire country.

“In just over a decade, shareholder equity has mushroomed from $19 million in 2000 to $142 million by June 2013. In fact since going public, the bank has amassed profits in the region of $100 million, earning its major shareholder almost $75 million in the form of dividends, the sale of shares and share appreciation, and other shareholders almost $50 million in dividends and share appreciation,” he said.

He added that BOB employs almost 400 persons, of whom the majority are Bahamian, and all decisions affecting BOB customers are made locally.

He also noted BOB’s record of responsible corporate citizenship in giving to numerous non-profit organizations and its reputation for innovation in the local banking industry.

According to Demeritte, BOB was the first bank to provide trust services for Bahamians and the first to offer full, comprehensive online banking complete with check imaging. It was also the first to comply with Check 21 procedures using electronic images to clear U.S. dollar deposits in a timely fashion, the first to offer Visa pre-paid and gift cards, the first to host a major mortgage fair attracting thousands, and just recently became the first to offer non-envelope cash deposits at its BOB Express ATMs, giving customers immediate cash value to their accounts.

BOB was also the first and only bank to win Euromoney’s Best Bank award four times and the Banker’s Bracken Award for Excellence three times.

Despite these achievements, however, the chairman said BOB would not rest on its laurels.

He pledged that the bank will continue to refine and develop its products and services and consistently provide exceptional service and superior financial solutions to meet the needs of its customers.

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Last Updated on Friday, 25 October 2013 17:44

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