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Lister link to Belco buyout bid

A US-based company has joined forces with Bermuda partners in a bid to buy a majority share in power firm Belco.

But Belco owners Ascendant Group said that the company is not for sale — and it has no interest in selling.

Several sources told The Royal Gazette that the local partner of Washington DC-based Twenty First Century Utilities is Dennis Lister, Speaker of the House of Assembly, who was said to have met with government and the Regulatory Authority to express an interest in the island power firm.

But a spokeswoman for Belco said: “Ascendant and Belco are aware of the rumours currently circulating throughout the community regarding its potential sale to a US based entity.

“To be clear, the company is not for sale, nor do we have any interest in selling the company.

“Belco is a strategic asset for Bermuda. We have a clear, board-endorsed strategy and a clear vision of where we want to go and a dedicated group of people and there is no need for the company to be taken over.”

The spokeswoman added: “We are aware that the US based company, 21st Century Utilities has been meeting with various entities the Government, Regulatory Authority and other individuals, including the executive of the Electricity Supply Trade Union.

“However, again, to date, no proposals have been received by the executive or board of directors at this time.

“It is important to note that as a board, we are responsible to our shareholders and we will act within our fiduciary responsibility to all shareholders, the company and our people.”

A source said: “Dennis Lister has been the person who reached out for contact to arrange the meeting — he is the local partner for Twenty First Century Utilities.

“He was at the Bermuda Energy Summit 2017 yesterday and I understand they have been meeting with Government and the Regulatory Authority.”

The Royal Gazette contacted Mr Lister to ask him whether he was involved in a group interested in buying up Belco.

He said: “You are asking the wrong person the wrong question.”

Mr Lister was asked if that meant he was not involved in a buyout plan.

He said: “I can't shed any light on that.”

A Belco employee told The Royal Gazette: “The company hadn't put themselves up for sale because they are being traded on the market — anyone with enough money could buy up the requisite amount of shares.

“An entity came forward and showed interest in the controlling shares.”

Electrical Supply Trade Union members this afternoon met to discuss a possible buyout of Belco.

The source said: “If this company buys majority shares tomorrow that doesn't necessarily mean job losses — we are at skeleton levels now on the industrial side.

“There are about 250 industrial staff and 100 administration staff. A sale of the company doesn't equate to job losses.”

Donald Lottimore, president of the Electrical Supply Trade Union, could not be contacted for comment.

21st Century Utilities was unavailable for comment.

Belco's Pembroke headquarters.

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Published November 17, 2017 at 8:01 pm (Updated November 18, 2017 at 12:20 am)

Lister link to Belco buyout bid

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