So, about 5 weeks ago, Reported Billionaire Jamaican born Canadian Michael Lee-Chin, announced he would be taking a leave of absence from his flagship Financial Conglomerate the NCB Financial Group, which he acquired from Finsac, after the meltdown of the Jamaican Banking and financial sectors, some years ago.
At the time, his announcement was covered by the rider, that his leave was to attend to other pressing business interests in Canada. This caught many financial observers, somewhat off-guard, as at the time, it was thought that Jamaica, and the NCB Group, were the primary core of Lee-Chin’s business interests. So the announcement that he was walking away to ‘supervise’ some other business concerns in Canada, was met with a great amount of skepticism.
Particularly as there were stories being circulated, that Lee-Chin was over-leveraged, and as a Director of the Group, this was untenable and affected his standing, with the group. All of this sounded plausible, as Lee-Chin started, or was actively off-loading offloading a number of his prized assets around the globe, including his prized luxury mega-yacht, and a number of real estate assets, including the iconic Blue-Lagoon property in Port Antonio, Condos in Cayman; and elsewhere.
And then there was the back story, according to industry insiders, there was evidence that led them to deduce that there was a move afoot, to stage a hostile takeover of the NCB Group, from within the group and that Michael Lee-Chins Leave of Absence, was a strategic move, designed to Smokeout those who would dethrone him and separate him from his cash-cow.
In fact, one leading financial observer is on record as saying that the so-called Leave of Absence, was nothing more than a red-herring, as what Lee-Chin was doing, they cautioned, was taking time away from the Group, to look at it from a fresh perspective, going on to, actually predict, that Lee-Chin, would cut short his self-imposed Leave of Absence, and return, to clean house.
So, here we are, trying to understand the machinations, motivations, and actual status of NCB, as despite boasting a whopping 40 billion dollars, in profits, had suspended the payout of dividends, to its shareholders. This led to some unease and disquiet among Shareholders, who had begun to complain about the withholding of said dividends.
And if the withholding of Dividends was not enough to heighten disaffection, NCB began taking a beating on social media platforms as supposed customers began posting videos complaining about being fleeced, by scammers as their accounts were raided and or emptied, (Some suggesting collusion of Bank employees), but when they reported the robberies/fraud to NCB, say they were given the run-around or the brush-off.
Basically, some had begun questioning the continued viability of the Bank, but when these queries arose, they were always met with the response; “The Bank was Too big to fail”.
Well, as was predicted by banking industry insiders, Lee-Chin ended his self-imposed exile and returned prematurely, to the Group, his return, was crowned with the announcement that the Group’s President and CEO, Patrick Hylton, and his Deputy CEO and CFO Dennis Cohen, would be going on leave, and upon the expiration of that leave, would both be separated from the Company, with Chairman Lee-Chin, set to take a more active role in the management of the conglomerate.
So, what’s next for NCB, its Chairman, and its just ousted President Deputy CEO, and CFO?
Now that Michael Lee-Chin has returned to active duty at NCB and its ousted President, Patrick Hylton, and deputy, Dennis Cohen are out, what next for NCB; its Chairman, Former President, and Deputy? Well, it seems as if this too is all about money, as despite the grand announcement of their departure, the mechanics to legally separate both Hylton and Cohen from their Jobs, As President and CEO and Deputy CEO and CFO, from NCB, are yet to be finalized. As their severance packages are yet to be calculated and or decided; plus there’s the outstanding issue of Shares they both surrendered to the Company, reportedly valued at some 13-8. Billion dollars, in 2021, for which they are expected to be compensated for at market value, and reportedly, is one of the sources of contention, in those ongoing separation talks.
And after a combined 39 years at the Bank, the severance package, for both Hylton and Cohen, is expected to be quite a pretty penny. That their remuneration is now up for discussion and questioning, comes as no surprise, but as the duo and commentators have opined, the duo did not authorize their own pay packages, as their pay package was authorized and approved by the Board. As was the decision to suspend payment of dividends to Shareholders, (this seems to be a matter of contention as well).
Fact is, some are now questioning NCB’s ability, in the current downturn, to afford the massive payouts, that will become due, to the two former top execs, coming at a time when the Bank, by instruction of its board, had suspended dividend payouts? There’s the suggestion from at least one Observer, that if the Bank fails to honour its obligations to its two former execs, leveraging Stock Options, could see them assuming control of the bank.
As for Michael Lee-Chin, the jury is still out on the reputed Billionaire, as to date, his ratings are in the cellar, as he is still linked to the non-starter of 5 in 4, the promise of growth for the Jamaican economy, as Chairman of the Economic Growth Council; then there was the promise of Coffee deal that went south; the promised rebirth of Port Antonio, as the new mecca of tourism, that is yet to materialize; the promised transformation of the Agricultural sector that accompanied the leasing of 3-Thousand of acres of Agricultural lands, in Inswood, St Catherine, that were reportedly later earmarked to be repurposed for Housing, but to date is all in limbo.
With a record of illustrious promises, and few accomplishments, some in the Government, have grown a tad weary of Lee-Chin and his promises as they say, his accomplishments in Jamaica, have amounted to little more than talk.
So, where does that leave NCB, under the Leadership of Lee-Chi?
Not many are prepared to bet against the reported Billionaire, but some are hoping that he will appoint a new President ASAP, to restore confidence, and stabilize stocks, as they fear, any delay, to implement this, could lead to a loss of consumer confidence, or worse…