Thursday 1st March, 2007


AIC says Trinidad shake-up producing results

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Michael Lee Chin


  • AIC Financial Group said T&T corporate shakeup bearing fruit
  • Group puts Trinidad losses at about $100 million
  • Says local operation on firm path to recovery
  • T&T business being managed from Canada while new CEO being sought for Trinidad operation.

The AIC Financial Group has said a major corporate shakeup of its operations in T&T is beginning to bear fruit.

We have been profitable, year-to-date,” said AIC director Robert Almeda, who is managing the T&T end of the business from AIC’s headquarters in Burlington, Canada, until the group can recruit a new chief executive officer to head up the Trinidad operation.

However, Almeda declined to specify the extent of the profit.

He made the comment in response to a report in last weekend’s Sunday Express which portrayed the company’s entry into the local market as a series of corporate mis-steps, characterised by mounting losses, regulatory infringements, corporate infighting and an exodus of managers.

While the group readily admitted that it has had a difficult time establishing itself in the T&T market, it rejected the portrayal of its three years in Trinidad as a chaotic misadventure.

And the group said it engineered the departure of several top managers as part of efforts to streamline the local business and save money.

The report claimed that the AIC Trinidad business had lost over $120 million since its commencement and that Lee Chin had used his 70 per cent shareholding in NCBJ as collateral for his borrowings.

Almeda put the Trinidad losses at about $100 million, and argued that rather than floundering, AIC is on a firm and strategic path to recovery.

We reorganised to focus on sales growth,” he said. “Trinidad is a large market and has potential.”

According to a report in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper yesterday, Michael Lee Chin had recognised that his Port-of-Spain business was in need of an overhaul to stem the losses.

The paper said Lee Chin hired Aubyn Hill, who served for two years as chief executive officer of NCBJ but departed after quarrels with a string of managers, to turn-around things in Trinidad.

Hill said, “I looked at the expertise and their results and made my recommendations.” He added, “The board acted in the direction of the recommendation given.”

Almeda said the company is engaged in “elimination of management layers” and the creation of an institutional and retail sales division to drive business—a primary target being the corporate market.

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