##Expansion Plans For Cable Bahamas##

Cable Television and telecommunications provider Cable Bahamas has announced access to greater financing that should boost expansion plans. Chairman Philip Keeping has entered into an agreement with the Canadian cable television and communications company Persona to sell his common shares in Columbus Communications for 2.8 million of its shares and some $10 million in cash. Columbus Communications owns 29.75% of the ordinary shares of Cable Bahamas.

A company spokesman confirmed that the deal provides an opportunity for Cable Bahamas to expand — much in line with Persona’s own plans. That company has announced that it has *”ambitious plans for expansion in the Caribbean”.* Mr. Keeping has said that the deal, subject to regulatory approvals, included a commitment to establish The Bahamas as a base for Persona’s regional expansion.

*”With Persona’s access to the capital markets, the guidance and experience of Mr. Keeping and the quality management team at Cable Bahamas, we feel we have a winning combination to build shareholder value”,* said Gary Kain, Chairman.

There are some 2,700 Bahamian shareholders of Cable Bahamas, with 51% of the company owned by the Bahamian public.

##Caribbean Network Alliance##

Full-service local communications agency The Counsellors has established an alliance with JER Porter Novelli, the Barbados-based public relations and marketing communications consultancy firm. JER is represented in a number of Caribbean countries, and the latest alliance creates a presence in both New Providence and Grand Bahama.

Ricardo Blackman, JER’s President and International Chairman said the expansion into The Bahamas is in keeping with his company’s mission to facilitate the cost-effective delivery of result-driven global and transcultural public relations and communications in the new business environment. He welcomed The Counsellors to the company’s Caribbean network.

President Joan Albury said, *”The Bahamas is one of the regional leaders in both tourism and financial services and The Counsellors represents many of the major firms and institutions in these industries. We believe we are an ideal Bahamas gateway for firms and institutions seeking to access The Bahamas market”.*

##Citibank’s Growth Strategy##

Citibank recently celebrated the first anniversary of its Global Corporate and Investment Bank (GCIB), with company officials affirming that its expansion is a sign of the bank’s confidence in the nation’s economy.

Speaking at the ceremony, Governor Julian Francis of the Central Bank welcomed Citibank’s move to develop products that attract corporate business. He stated that there is major opportunity here to develop more specialised products to meet the needs of Bahamian business — particularly the small business sector. GCIB’s portfolio includes loan and treasury products, underwriting equities and bonds, project financing, mergers and acquisitions, capital structuring and cash management. The bank has said it plans to assist in the development of local capital markets, and in bringing investors and credit worthy borrowers together. *”The goal is to help shape the financial industry, along with other banks who share the same commitment to The Bahamas”*, according to a company press statement.

Jamal Hussein, Business Head of Citibank’s Bahamian operations, further said *”In a tough market for financial service providers, both Bahamian and multinational companies operating in The Bahamas must be efficient. There will be no room for mediocre suppliers of products and services.”*

Citibank’s strategy on concentrating on its best performing areas saw the development of its corporate banking business in 2001.

##Servicing The Customer##

Local real estate firm Damianos Realty has announced that it is placing “renewed emphasis on how we look after people”, very much in line with its ongoing strategy of building relationships with clients. The company has undertaken an evaluation and analysis to better understand the dynamics of its business in the current market place, and has developed an action plan with a written commitment to the client — *”letting them know exactly what we will be doing to complete business to their satisfaction”*, according to President George Damianos.

Staff at Damianos Realty recently completed a training seminar with Gary Schnarr, a specialist in inspiring individuals towards “excellence with compassion”.

##Imperial Life Canada Completes Merger##

Imperial Life Assurance Company of Canada, the parent company of Imperial Life Financial (Bahamas) has completed its merger with Desjardins-Laurentian Life Assurance (DLLA), creating the Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company.

The local company will continue to trade under its current name and will continue to offer the same range of products — individual life insurance, group and life health, and pension. Guy Richard, Executive Vice President of Imperial Life said being part of a bigger entity will provide access to more technology and expertise. *”Our mission is to help our customers attain financial security through a judicious combination of life and health insurance and investment products, in order to guard against the financial risks of accidents, illness or death, and to secure a retirement lifestyle”.*

Francois Joly, President of Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance, pointed out that the merger followed the consolidation trends within financial services, and that the trend is expected to increase within the life and health insurance sector. In referencing the tough battle over the next few years, Mr. Joly said, *”Those companies who survive will be the ones who succeed in being innovative, remaining flexible and taking advantage of all the business opportunities that arise. The survivors will be those who focus their efforts on the customer and meeting his or her needs.”*

##London Office Officially Opens##

In speaking at the official opening of Lennox Paton’s London Office last month, Central Bank Governor Julian Francis said *”As a Bahamian financial services practitioner, I am deeply grateful to your firm for having taken this step.”* Governor Francis has gone on record as encouraging Bahamian firms to establish a presence in the largest financial centres, to offer clients and potential business associates easy access to Bahamian professionals.

The Governor saw the move by Lennox Paton to compete and build new business in a highly competitive market as a symbol of an important new phase in the maturity of the Bahamas as a financial centre. He pointed out that The Bahamas is home to many of the world’s major banking and financial services institutions — a large number of European origin — and boasts a high level of accountants and attorneys per capita.

##Royal Online##

RBC Royal Bank of Canada has introduced Internet banking.

Royal Online banking now allows customers to access accounts through the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Secure, convenient and easy to use, the service allows the checking of balances, review of transactions, and transfer of funds.

##Scotiabank Bahamas Acquires VISA Business##

At the end of last month, Scotiabank (Bahamas) Ltd. purchased the Bahamian VISA portfolio of Citibank.

The VISA card business in The Bahamas includes Gold, Classic, and Aadvantage cards. This acquisition makes Scotiabank’s the largest issue of MasterCard and VISA products combined in The Bahamas, and reinforces its leading position across the region. Said President Bruce Birmingham, *”Scotiabank is committed to our customers in The Bahamas, and as the Caribbean’s leading bank, we look forward to continued growth across the region”.* Added Tony Allen, Managing Director, Scotiabank (Bahamas) Ltd., *”We look forward to continuing to meet the financial goals of our customers and communities across The Bahamas. The addition of the VISA cards to our credit card products will allow our customers to choose the card that best fits their needs.”*