By NAN Business Editor
News Americas, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Fri. Aug. 30, 2019: Here are the top business stories making news from the Caribbean for this week of Aug. 30, 2019:
International Barbados-born star turned entrepreneur, Rihanna, is having an undeniably great 2019. The Wall Street Journal this week reported that her lingerie line Savage x Fenty has raised an additional $50 million in funding after a strong first year of sales.
The new $50 million joins $20 million of previously raised capital, bringing Savage x Fenty’s total backing to about $70 million. Some of that investment came from Jay Z’s venture firm Marcy Venture Partners LLC.
The latest updates in the region’s telecommunication sector from ResearchAndMarkets.com show: the Antigua government is set to invest EC$80 million during 2019 to improve state-owned telcos market competitiveness; Ozone Wireless is facing closure of services in Barbados; CBL has raised $14.6 million from the sale of shares on the Jamaican Stock Exchange; Digicel Anguilla has expanded LTE and legislative amendments have extended jurisdiction of the telecom regulator in Barbados to include mobile services.
British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie is publicly pushing back against the conditions the UK wants to attach to a £300 million loan guarantee that it first offered in November 2017 to assist with the territory’s recovery effort. Governor Gus Jaspert says he is standing by the UK conditions — many of which were agreed by the previous government — as fair measures designed to ensure accountability in keeping with “international best practice.” But Fahie says the conditions must be renegotiated.
Hess has been 2019’s top oil and gas stock thanks to its Guyana investment. Hess’s popularity with investors is rooted in its 30% stake in an immense offshore oil field being developed by Exxon Mobil Corp. in Guyana that appears poised to become one of the most lucrative megaprojects in years, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company’s shares have surged more than 50% in 2019, the biggest increase of any major U.S. oil company this year.
Carnival Corporation has vowed to fight on after a federal judge in Miami ruled that a lawsuit seeking to punish the company for doing business in Cuba using assets that were expropriated by the Fidel Castro government will move forward.
Javier Garcia-Bengochea, the descendant of a Cuban business owner, is suing the Miami-based cruise corporation under a newly activated provision of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act – or LIBERTAD Act – that allows US nationals and naturalized Cubans to seek damages for property seized by Cuba’s government after the communist revolution in 1959. Garcia-Bengochea has a certified claim to port buildings and piers in Santiago de Cuba where Carnival Corporation’s cruise ships have docked since Barack Obama eased relations with the Castro government in 2016.
US District Judge James Lawrence King ruled he was “not persuaded” that the company had sufficient permission from the US Treasury Department to do business in Cuba.
Puerto Rico bond insurers this month filed suit against eight well-known investment banks (UBS, Citi, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Securities, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, RBC and Santander) for failing to perform proper diligence on Commonwealth bonds worth approximately $11 billion. The suit alleges that the Official Statements promoted by the banks were fraudulent according to CaribbeanBusiness.com.
The lawsuit by MBIA Insurance Corp. and its National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. unit reveals the fatal flaws and conflicts of interest that plague the $8.3 billion PREPA debt restructuring deal that is currently before the bankruptcy court. The complaint contends that the insurers were victims of the banks’ recklessness. The banks looked the other way as Puerto Rico’s economy declined. They peddled bonds to insurers as sound investments that could be reasonably insured against default.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) of Trinidad and Tobago reportedly granted unprecedented benefits and incentives to the Chinese construction company, China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Co Ltd (CGGC), as part of an agreement to construct 5,000 apartment units at sites across Trinidad, according to a Trinidad Express Business report. In the first phase of the contract, which was signed on May 17, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, CGGC is expected to produce 204 two and three-bedroom apartment units at South Quay in Port of Spain and 235 two and three-bedroom apartment units at Lady Hailes Avenue in San Fernando.
Admiral Bay Resources Inc. this week announced that it has entered into an acquisition agreement with marijuana company, Cultivar Holdings Ltd., an early stage cannabis company who has obtained conditional licenses to grow, transport and cultivate high quality cannabis in Jamaica. The company presently leases one acre of land in Portland, Jamaica, which is expected to hold two 600 square foot greenhouses. Admiral will acquire all of the Cultivar Shares at a price of $0.50 per share. Cultivar’s authorized capital consists of an unlimited number of common shares (of which 97,439,900 are issued and outstanding. In addition, 500,000 Cultivar Shares will be issued to members of Cultivar’s management team in Jamaica upon the final approval of Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority for licenses involved in the cultivation, processing, retail and transportation of cannabis.
Global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps and Bacardi, the largest privately held spirits company in the world, are launching the Caribbean Innovation Challenge 2019, a competition to award business innovation and strengthen businesses on the islands, entrepreneurs can win up to $5,000 USD. The Caribbean Innovation Challenge 2019 will award 25 local entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for products, services or processes that will contribute to the economic development of the territory. Small businesses in USVI and Sint Maarten are a key engine of job creation and need tools to recover, grow and become more resilient to future crises. To participate in the contest in Sint Maarten, the entrepreneur must have an active business that is registered with the Chamber of Commerce, be of legal age, and live in the territory. To participate in the contest in USVI, entrepreneurs must have an active business, be of legal age, and live in the territory. Participants can visit the Challenge website to submit their application. The contest will be open until September 15, 2019.