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BCB see completion of LP Gutteridge building purchase

The Bermuda Commercial Bank has a new home.

The bank completed the acquisition of the city property the LP Gutteridge building on Par-la-Ville Road in Hamilton, according to a half-year earnings statement of its parent company, Somers Limited.

The Bermuda exempted financial services investment holding company demonstrated positive results in the first half of the fiscal year. And there was optimism expressed about the short to medium future growth opportunities of its key subsidiaries.

But the Somers board moved to suspend the dividend reinvestment plan instituted in February. The plan enabled shareholders to elect to receive shares in lieu of cash dividends. A Somers statement said that with the company's share price currently trading at a significant discount to its net asset value the directors have agreed to suspend the plan until the time when the discount to the net asset value is reduced.

The company said its financial performance continues to improve with its liquid and well capitalised balance sheet strengthening further. The share price closed Friday up a penny at $14.26.

Company highlights for the six months ended March 31, included consolidated net income of $10.8 million (2013: $3.1 million). Shareholders' equity increased by 14.8 percent to $183.8 million, up from $160.1 million at the end of September.

The company recorded a net asset value per share of $16.25, up from $14.96 in September. An improved interim dividend of $0.15 a share (2013: $0.12) was declared.

Following Fitch's affirmation of BCB's Long- and Short-term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of ‘BBB-/F3', the bank reported first half net income of $7.9 million, up from $5.1 million in 2013.

Somers' new subsidiary Waverton Investment Management Limited reported income of $5.7 million for the first six months of the fiscal year. Waverton reported assets under management as at March 31 of $8.0 billion an increase of approximately 25 percent compared to September 30, 2013.

Commenting on the financial results, Somers Chairman Warren McLeland said, “The first half of year has produced strong results with profit significantly up year on year. “We are pleased with the performance of our key subsidiaries of BCB and Waverton and in particular the performance of Waverton since the company acquired it in 2013. It is against this backdrop that we have announced a 25 percent increase in the interim dividend to $0.15 a share.

“Importantly, there remain significant opportunities for both BCB and Waverton to grow in the short to medium term. Our other investments, whilst smaller, also have exciting opportunities and we will continue to look for additional acquisitions and investments with the aim to improve the returns to all shareholders.

“I look forward to the rest of the 2014 financial year with confidence. There remain significant opportunities open to the company and we believe that for the rest of 2014 the group will continue to progress.”

BCB's capital position increased from $109.5 million to $123.7 million in the six months to March 31. This improvement resulted principally from unrealised mark to market gains on the bank's financial investments portfolio and an increase in retained earnings. The bank's regulatory capital ratio was 20.47 percent and total risk weighted assets were $427.5 million at March 31.

Following a refinancing this January, Somers increased its holding in Westhouse Holdings plc to 84.6 percent.

In the first half of the year, Westhouse continued to be a loss making entity ($1.7 million). However, a number of completed and expected corporate transactions are likely to improve Westhouse's operating performance significantly.

L.P. Gutteridge Building. (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

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Published June 17, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated June 17, 2014 at 11:30 am)

BCB see completion of LP Gutteridge building purchase

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