Shareholders approve new structure for First Citizens bank

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First Citizens bank branch on Independence Square, Port of Spain. Shareholders on Wednesday approved the creation of a holding company for the bank and its subsidiaries. File photo –

The First Citizens bank on Wednesday gained approval from shareholders to begin the restructuring process which will see the bank become a wholly-owned subsidiary of a holding company.

Shareholders also approved the vesting of shares from the bank to the holding company, temporarily named “New Hold Co.”

Officials said the change was in keeping with international best practices to have a financial holding company framework, instead of having the bank acting as the holding company for the group.

First Citizens group CEO Karen Darbasie said the amalgamation of the bank and the holding company would preserve the bank in a legal nature while the holding company would oversee operations of all the subsidiaries. All assets would be transferred to the holding company in the same percentage as was held in the bank.

“So literally, shareholders would have the same shares they had before,” said Darbasie, while answering questions.

In her opening address, Darbasie said despite covid19, First Citizens worked toward increasing value in the company.

She said the digital agenda remains a focus and continues to drive many new products and initiatives. Work started before the spread of covid19 and allowed the bank to assist customers with digital solutions while protecting staff.

She said the bank launched a new app for bill payments, real time payment and account balance checks. The bank also developed a service package which would allow small to medium-sized businesses e-commerce solutions including the ability to embed a payment button which would link businesses to account to monitor payments.

The bank also enhanced its operation efficiency through the launch of a loan workflow scheme.

“This is the re-engineering and automation of our loan processing function. It allows (us) to process customer requests in a seamless, online manner to improve the quality of service delivery.”

She also added that the bank had a full suite of products associated with assisting people in light of the pandemic.

Darbasie added that First Citizens is awaiting regulatory approval for the acquisition of Scotiabank assets in Guyana and investing in Jamaican investment company Barita.

“We are doing all of our due diligence to ensure that whatever acquisition has a positive value to our shareholders,” she said.

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