Financial arm of Gilinski Group says it’s to acquire FirstCaribbean International Bank

Barbadians awoke this weekend learning First Caribbean could soon become First Colombian? Seriously, the popular financial entity in the midst of ongoing controversy with its interest rates slashed in what many see as a draconian manner plus new charges added on, now has the additional controversy of a public reaction in discovering via overseas online media the once Canadian outlet now changing hands.

On Friday night, numerous WhatsApp messages emerged showing Colombian news services trumpeting the acquisition by billionaire Jaime Gilinski Bacal, who built one of the largest banking empires in Latin America through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

A Google Translate of an article from La Republica examined the history which was also unusual – “It should be remembered that this bank has been a protagonist in different stock control movements since its creation in 2002.

This, because it arose after the merger of operations in the Caribbean area of Barclays and CIBC West Indies; However, four years later, the British decided to leave that business, so the Canadians remained as main shareholders after announcing a purchase intention for an agreement close to US $1 billion, which led to the brand being CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank to beginning of the second decade of 2000.”

The online publication Valora Analitik through Google Translate gave some details of the as yet to be officially acknowledged deal here in Barbados – “FirstCaribbean International Bank (FCIB), a financial services company based in Barbados and the Caribbean subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) (was acquired by) the Gilinski Group (through) 70% for an approximate amount of US $2.2 billion.”

An official comment from the Corporate Communications Department here was rather cryptic – “CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Limited is a strong, well-performing business that continues to grow across the region. As a publicly-traded company in the Caribbean, there has always been investor interest in our bank.

Our focus is on enhancing our long-term growth prospects while creating value for our clients, shareholders, and other stakeholders. If and when decisions are made about our business, we’ll advise our stakeholders as appropriate.”

Photo Mark St. Hill

Mark St Hill, Director of Retail Banking & Mortgages, was repeatedly contacted via WhatsApp over the weekend, however up to printing this article, Mr St Hill is yet to reply.

Another comment on the situation was nearer to home, this time from the Cayman Marl Road newsletter which carried an edited version of the translated Colombian financial news services.

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Bajans, commenting on Facebook this weekend, want to know how this affects their accounts and what role does the Central Bank of Barbados play in any regulations, if any? They are also curious about the frozen assets of Leroy Parris due to judicial management of the Barbados leg of the CLICO scandal are the suspended monies held by FirstCaribbean or by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce?

Until senior personnel of FirstCaribbean are more forthcoming on the takeover, questions from worried consumers remain just that – questions

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