Caribbean Business And Finance Report

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Compiled By NAN Business Editor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 5, 2020: Here are some of the top business and finance news making headlines across the Caribbean this week.

Regional

CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, which operates throughout the region, has recorded a net loss of US$110 million for the April second quarter, due to the impact of COVID-19 on its operations.

It’s the first big bank with Canadian connections to post a net loss. CIBC FirstCaribbean describes itself as the largest chain of banks in the anglophone and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, with more than US$1.1 billion in equity and US$11.9 billion in total assets up to April 2020.

“Since reporting our first-quarter results in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the outlook for the global economy and for the economies in the territories where our bank operates,” FirstCaribbean said. “Against this backdrop, the bank reported a net loss of US$110 million for the quarter ended April 30, 2020 as compared to net income of US$51 million for the same period in the prior year.”

Scotiabank Caribbean made a profit of CDN$46 million for the quarter down, from CDN$171 million a year earlier; and RBC Bank also recorded a profit for its Caribbean segment, which also included its US operations.

Telecommunications

This as Digicel, Denis O’Brien’s Caribbean based telecoms company, which filed for bankruptcy weeks ago to restructure its debt, has signed a deal with the French company Iliad, that will see the two firms share network in the French West Indies.

The deal was originally flagged by Digicel in its third quarter earnings in February, but the company only provided details this week.  The agreement will see Iliad gain access to Digicel’s Radio Access Network in the French West Indies. This will enable Iliad, whose majority shareholder is French billionaire Xavier Niel, to launch a mobile service in the territory. Digicel will also gain by securing revenue from its network assets in five countries across the French West Indies, including Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, St. Martin and St. Barth.

Cruise Lines

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is seeking an additional $2 billion from investors to boost liquidity as the cruise liner’s ships remain at port to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The company is raising $1 billion in the bond market and another $1 billion through convertible notes, according to a news release. Pricing on the three-year bonds is being discussed in the range of 9.125%, lower than earlier levels of 9.25% to 9.5% and initial talks around high-9% to 10%, according to people familiar with the matter.

The news came asMorgan Stanley downgraded cruise liners Wednesday and said it expects cruises to resume in the fourth quarter. Jamie Rollo reinstated coverage of Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL) and Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE: RCL) with an Underweight rating and price targets of $11 and $33, respectively.  The analyst downgraded Norwegian Cruise Line (NASDAQ: NCLH) from Equal-weight to Underweight with a price target cut from $14 to $13.

The Dominican Republic

Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas of the Dominican Republic has revealed that the country lost 473,000 formal jobs last month, customs revenues decreased by 39% and exports declined by 27% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The official provided these figures during a videoconference meeting with his counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean, convened by the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, with the aim of seeking ways of cooperation in the common fight against the coronavirus. The impact of the pandemic for the Dominican tourism industry, which directly represents 8% of GDP, “is incalculable,” with a decrease of 600,000 tourists compared to April of the previous year, while around 90% of direct jobs of the sector are currently suspended, he added.

Cuba

The Trump administration this week expanded its list of Cuban entities that Americans are banned from doing business with to include the financial corporation that handles U.S. remittances to the Communist-run country.

Military-owned Fincimex is the main Cuban partner of foreign credit card companies and money transfer firm Western Union, which Cubans in the United States have used for two decades to send money back to their loved ones on the Caribbean island.

Those remittances are all the more needed now as the coronavirus pandemic is worsening Cuba’s already grim economic outlook, grinding the key tourism industry to a halt. A U.S. State Department spokesman claims the move is designed to stop the flow of remittances through military-controlled financial institutions and the flow of hard currency to the government.

Cayman Islands

Famous offshore tax haven Cayman Islands is now the 10th largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for India. While inbound FDI from tax havens have risen over the past few years for India, estimates released by the DPIIT earlier this week according to the Business Standard, show it spiked unprecedentedly in 2019-20. Equity inflows worth $3.7 billion came from CI in 2019-20, a 267 percent increase from the $1 billion registered in 2018-19.

Meanhile, the Cayman Islands-based Caribbean parametric disaster insurance risk pool CCRIF SPC has expanded to more than $1 billion, as all of its Caribbean member countries renewed their coverage and some expanded their protection, Artemis reports. The pool provides parametric disaster insurance protection to Caribbean and Central American nations, covering perils including storms, earthquakes and heavy rains, among others.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas faces “a deep recession” due to the “unprecedented crisis” caused by the combination of COVID-19 and Hurricane Dorian, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

The Fund, in approving this nation’s request for an “emergency” $250m loan to meet the government’s need for “urgent” foreign reserves support amid the tourism industry shutdown, said the economic fall-out will be deep and unsparing for The Bahamas.

It added that the $250m loan was equivalent to 100 percent of The Bahamas’ so-called special drawing rights (SDRs) in the IMF, meaning that this nation has effectively leveraged its entire “shareholding” in the Washington DC based Fund to access a low-cost foreign currency loan at an interest rate of 1.054 percent.

Bermuda

Bermuda is on a list of countries where HSBC Holdings is reconsidering or reviewing its future, according to reports.

The HSBC board is pushing for the restart of a restructuring program and to come up with more radical changes, including the possible sale of its US business alongside operations in smaller “non-strategic countries,” The Financial Times said.

Barbados

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic poses a major challenge for the economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism, and is expected to have a large impact on the balance of payments and the fiscal accounts. That’s according to the IMF Executive Board, which concluded the third review under the IMF’s Extended Arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility for Barbados this week. “A strong recovery after the global pandemic will depend on accelerating structural reforms. There is much room for improvement in the business climate. Establishing a credit registry and credit collateral registry, in addition to broadening the types of eligible collateral, would facilitate access to credit. In addition, priority should also given to improving resilience to natural disasters and climate change,” Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair of the IMF Executive Board said.

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