I want to say that, in my opinion, your newspaper serves an important role as purporting to give the ordinary Guyanese a voice and one that is fearless of government intimidation. I congratulate you on this.
This role is even more important as Guyana gets underway with its ‘new dispensation’. But with this role, comes great responsibility.
This is why I am disappointed at the obvious lack of proper research carried out by your newspaper when it comes to sensitive and business matters.
I am a Guyanese living in New York, on holiday here looking for some opportunities, and I have been reading about the Brassington-Hand -in-Hand affair. At first, it looked interesting so I decided to do a little internet research of my own.
One view, which is overwhelmingly supported by your newspaper, is that Winston Brassington was in a conflict of interest when his brother bought Hand-in-Hand Trust shares some seven years after the privatization. We have the much-touted opinion that Winston Brassington was somehow privy to “insider” information, hence his recommendation to his brother to buy the shares.
Now this all seems alarming to the unenlightened public; except, that in your obvious witch-hunt you chose to leave out some very pertinent facts that anyone with internet access could find.
First, NICIL is the government’s vehicle for selling government-owned property and businesses, not for buying, so I doubt Winston Brassington could have bought any shares for NICIL even if Hand-in-Hand wished to sell them (which they apparently did not). As I understand it, government has to get out of business in order to create a market economy and to qualify for structural reform facilities.
Looking at Hand-in-Hand Trust’s current shareholding, the NICIL shares were increased in number but the NICIL percentage of ownership substantially reduced when Brassington’s brother became a shareholder. This could hardly have been a sale of shares to NICIL. It looks more like a NICIL was given some more shares as part of a new distribution that would mathematically balance the earlier shareholding after bringing in Brassington’s 30 percent. Hand-in-Hand should clarify this.
Second, the Hand-in-Hand shares seemed to have had little value, as a result of the Stanford loss, when Jonathan Brassington bought them. He was obviously buying goodwill in the company. Well done, Hand-in-Hand, you obviously capitalized on your reputation when the ‘chips were down’.
Third, Hand-in-Hand Trust is, according to their website, a private company. This means that it can lawfully sell shares to whomsoever it wished, and give out whatever investor information they wished to whomever they wished, of course, except for the confidential client information. The company’s website says that The Bank of Guyana approved the sale to Brassington. Does your paper suggest that the Bank of Guyana did not scrutinize the sale?
In any event, investors in private companies are considered sufficiently well-informed to make their own investment decisions.
Fourth, Guyanese should have been informed by your newspaper that insider trading and insider information, in this connection, have to do with publicly traded companies, for example, those on the stock exchanges in the USA or in Guyana’s case, those listed on the Guyana Securities Exchange. This is not the case for private companies.
If Kaieteur News were a private company, it could choose to sell shares to any new partner it wished, without going public. This is another fact your reporters either chose to omit, or they really shouldn’t be writing about business.
Fifth, Mr. Jonathan Brassington is obviously an extremely successful Guyanese. For example, being honoured as one of Philadelphia’s Most Innovative Executives in 2005 is no ordinary achievement (Liquidhub website). Moreover, his company, Liquid Hub, according to its website, has consistently been named one of the Philly 100 Fastest Growing Privately-held Companies; this, by any standard, is a huge company. These achievements should make the whole of Guyana proud, but did you mention them in your “fair and balanced” reporting?
No; apart from taking his picture from the website, you chose to say nothing about this. Anyone in the USA would know that given these achievements, Jonathan Brassington’s company should easily eclipse the whole of Hand-in-Hand, not just its Trust company. This, dear Editor, is relevant information.
My last point is that the sale of shares, seven years after the privatization, is by international standards an eternity after. If we put this sale in international business perspective, the sale from NICIL would be ancient history. By the way, in the USA, even if Brassington was an insider and even if Hand-in-Hand Trust were a public company, the trade to his brother would not be illegal if all the necessary disclosures were made and processes followed.
Every day we hear of merger and acquisition activity, this is how it happens.
In other words, we readers would think much more of your newspaper, and be better able to formulate an opinion on the matter, if you did a little research and presented a holistic picture.
Your failure to do so presents your esteemed newspaper as a politically one-sided front.
As for me, I see no conflict of interest, nor insider trading, because none existed.
Please continue the good work and try to present the full picture in future.
Editor’s note: You fail to appreciate that NICIL did buy shares when the volume was increased. You also failed to accept that Winston Brassington actually signed on behalf of his brother during the purchase of the 235 million shares, even as he continued to head NICIL.
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