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Somers hopes to complete BCB sale this year

Somers Ltd remains hopeful that it can complete the agreed sale of Bermuda Commercial Bank after the deal was stalled by the Covid-19 crisis.

The financial-services holding company agreed last year to sell BCB to Permanent Capital Holdings Ltd and in February this year the deal received necessary approvals from regulators. In March, Somers announced the deal had been delayed amid extreme volatility on financial markets.

In its first-quarter earnings statement today, filed with the Bermuda Stock Exchange, Somers said: “Disappointingly, during the quarter, we were not able to complete the sale of BCB due to the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and the impact this uncertainty had on investor confidence. “We remain in discussions with the proposed buyer and are hopeful that we will be able to complete the sale later in 2020.”

Somers values its investment in BCB at $70 million.

The company which has interests in the UK and Australia, as well as Bermuda, reported a net loss of $22 million for the six months ended March 31, the first half of its financial year. Somers said its net asset value dipped with the markets in the first three months of the year, but has since rebounded.

“During the quarter the company's investments experienced significant stock market and currency volatility as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the actions taken by governments worldwide,” Warren McLeland, chairman of Somers, said.

“The impact of sharply reduced valuations combined with the decrease of sterling and the Australian dollar against the US dollar caused the company's NAV to decrease to $15.73 as at March 31, 2020.

“It is positive to note that since the quarter end the company's NAV has moved higher and is now back above the company's NAV at the start of the financial year.” The NAV was $17.10 per share at the end of September last year.

During the first three months of this year, Somers recorded a $78.3 million unrealised loss on its investment portfolio, mainly due to decreased valuations of its holdings in PCF, Waverton, BCB and Thorn Group.

“While we anticipate valuations to be impacted by Covid-19 in the short term, particularly in those businesses, such as PCF, which is focused on asset financing and whose customers will be impacted by the pandemic, we do expect that over the longer term these investments will generate significant value to Somers shareholders,” Somers stated.

Shareholders' equity was $331.3 million as at March 31, 2020 down from $353.6 million six months earlier.

Somers' board of directors declared an interim dividend of 21 cents per share.

Of the companies Somers invests in, Australian firm Resimac Ltd reported normalised profit after tax of A$26.9 million for the six months ended December 31, 2019, up 85 per cent from the same period a year earlier, and assets under management of over A$14 billion.

UK-based Waverton Investment Management's assets under management at March 31 were £5.6 billion, down from £6.2 billion at the end of 2019.

PCF Group increased its lending portfolio by 45 per cent to £400 million as of the end of March.

Total assets were $403.2 million at the end of March, down from $423.1 million six months earlier.

Deal delay: Somers is in talks with BCB propsective buyer Permanent Capital (File photograph)

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Published May 12, 2020 at 4:54 pm (Updated May 12, 2020 at 4:54 pm)

Somers hopes to complete BCB sale this year

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