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2005-05-24 14:34:31

Management Purge at Colina

'We have dubbed this move a bloodbath,' said one well placed source, who declined to be identified. 'Mr. Alexiou appears to have no respect for people nor the regulators'

Some observers of the Colina management shakeup have described the transition as less of a “reorganization plan' and more of a “blood bath' at one of the most high profile insurance and financial conglomerates in the country.

The official explanation of what happened at the Colina Insurance Company – which has been renamed ColinaImperial – following a critical shareholders meeting on Friday, is that the board of directors has been restructured.

The rationale offered is that the move is critical in bringing fresh thinking and commitment to the company, according to the Chairman of Colina Holdings Bahamas Ltd. Emmanuel Alexiou.

But some of the former managers who were on the receiving end of the axe that was unceremoniously dropped have proffered a contrasting view.

"We have dubbed this move a bloodbath," said one well placed source, who declined to be identified. "Mr. Alexiou appears to have no respect for people nor the regulators."

The source was referring to the terminations of five senior managers in addition to the ousting of former Colina President James Campbell following the extraordinary meeting of shareholders.

Dario Lundy Mortimer, chief financial officer; Anne Smith, human resources manager; Nadine Bain, training officer; Michael Adderley, director of sales and marketing and Barbara Cartwright, office manager and corporate secretary of Colina Financial Group were all terminated over the weekend, the Bahama Journal has learnt.

It was perceived that these persons had either aligned themselves with Mr. Campbell or exercised a certain degree of resistance to Mr. Alexiou's managerial decisions, according to the source.

They were reportedly told to return this week to collect their benefits.

Friday's meeting was the culmination of months of tension that had built up between Messrs Alexiou and Anthony Ferguson, another board director and shareholder on the one hand, and Mr. Campbell on the other.

The internal feud was marked by legal maneuvers that ended unsuccessfully for Mr. Campbell who had been working to block the meeting from occurring. He also tried unsuccessfully to untangle his 30 percent shareholding in the company which was eventually used in order to oust him.

Mr. Ferguson has been placed as the Chairman of the Investment Committee, according to another source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"This is clearly a conflict as he is a shareholder, owner and director of Colina," the source pointed out.

In a press statement that was released over the weekend, the company acknowledged that Macgregor Robertson; politician Zhivargo Laing; and Ednol Farquharson had been appointed as new directors, subject to regulatory approval.

It was also announced that the former Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Imperial Life Financial Guy Richard is the new head of ColinaImperial's executive team.

Ken Kerr reportedly declined to become a director as the company where he is now employed reportedly did not approve.

Colina recently acquired Imperial in a move that had been contested by some prominent figures.

"Our acquisitions have created synergy opportunities to utilize the best practices and best people from the companies that now form ColinaImperial," Mr. Alexiou explained in a press statement. "New skill sets with broad and proven experience in our areas of business are also required in the day to day management and leadership of the company so that we can focus internally on those areas that will allow us to meet increased client expectations and in the process increase shareholder value."

It was a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Hugh Small on May 12 that cleared the way for the shareholders' meeting to take place.

In his affidavit, Mr. Campbell explained how his relationship had soured through a series of events that occurred before May 8, 2005 that "caused him to no longer wish to be associated with Messrs Alexiou and Ferguson as partners."

It was stated that there was also a "loss of confidence" in Mr. Campbell.

Justice Small ruled then that the breakdown of the relationship cannot be properly resolved in litigation.

"What is required is monetary compensation. The best course is for a form of valuation which takes into account different representation as to how much the plaintiff can be properly assessed," he ruled. "In conglomerates which are publicly owned the interest although much smaller will have to be taken into account."

The judge advised that the only sensible thing for the parties to do is to find a method of alleviating the dispute rather than keeping it a live issue before the courts.

"I say so mindful that the Colina group is a small part of the stock exchange in a country with a reputation of financial stability and if its reputation is to be enhanced it must be that persons locally have the benefit of a healthy corporate environment," the judge said.

Tameka Lundy, The Bahama Journal

 
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