Friday, February 11, 2005

The Origins of National Bank of Anguilla

The Origins of NBA 
By Don Mitchell CBE QC
National Bank was formed as a company in 1984.  It acquired Bank of America's Anguilla Branch at The Valley in Anguilla in 1985.  These were both successful endeavours because a lot of people worked hard to make it happen.
In the forefront were the promoters.  We were Fabian M Fahie, Kennedy W Hodge, Conrad W Fleming, Ralph V C Hodge, Cecil Niles, Timothy A Hodge, George Kentish, Albert S Lake, and myself.  Edmund W Lawrence was recruited from St Kitts to be the Banking Advisor.  We all signed the company’s memo and articles of incorporation and the Prospectus as promoters of the company.
The Government of Anguilla, under the leadership of Sir Emile R Gumbs, enthusiastically supported the efforts of the promoters.  The late Hon Albena Lake-Hodge, Minister of Education, insisted that a public company be formed.  That would allow the participation of the Anguillian public.  The Hon Hubert Hughes was Minister of Finance.  The Hon Franklyn Connor OBE JP was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. Both provided invaluable guidance and assistance on compliance with the legal requirements.  The new company was registered.  The Banking Licence was issued.  There was a minimum of beaurocracy and red tape. Government was issued 7,500 shares in the company.  This was in exchange for Government's efforts in the negotiations with Bank of America and for taxes and fees payable to Government.  Cabinet approved the transaction on 7 February 1985.  This opened the way for the NBA acquisition of the Bank of America branch in The Valley to proceed.
The conversion of the Bank of America Branch in The Valley into a locally owned Bank would not have succeeded without the whole-hearted support of Bank of America staff in Anguilla at that time.  Selwyn Horsford, Valentine Banks, Icilma Vanterpool, Bernadine Horsford, Glenford Richardson, Carol Morton, Barbara Simpson, Kathryne Richardson (now Connor), Janice Carty (now Proctor), Elma Vanterpool, and Lindsay Richardson worked all hours of the day and night to calm the fears of Bank customers about the future.  They projected the quiet confidence that was essential to ensure that there was no drain on deposits during the period of transfer.
The promoters had to raise EC$1,500,000 to have money to purchase the branch.  They decided to go to the public for the funds.  They reserved 80% for Anguillian belongers and 10% for Government.  They ensured that not more than 10% of the shares were issued to non-Anguillians.  The application list opened at 10:00 am on Friday 1 February 1985.  It was to have closed five weeks later at 4:00 pm on Friday 8 March.  But, because of the enthusiastic support of the Anguillian public, the issue was over-subscribed within days by some 600 investors.  Many persons who mailed in their applications for shares were disappointed to learn that they arrived too late.  But, unfortunately, the rules did not permit the promoters to issue more shares than the maximum that were stated in the Prospectus.  This enthusiastic vote of confidence of the Anguillian public in the new venture encouraged everyone to move forward to the closing on the agreement for the transfer.
The Bank of America executives dealing with the promoters could not have been more helpful.  The acquisition by NBA of Bank of America's branch in Anguilla was the friendliest of take-overs. William Dafoe and Robert Alsop were the Bank of America officers who had the main contact with the promoters in Anguilla.  They ensured that the lawyers kept their transactions as simple and as straightforward as possible.  They came to Anguilla to sign the sale documents for Bank of America on 7 March 1985.
The officers of NBA played a major role in the negotiations and the completion of the documentation for the purchase of Bank of America.  They were Conrad Walton Fleming, the first Chairman, and Ralph V C Hodge, the company's first Secretary.  The closing took place in the foyer of the Bank's premises.  Some fourteen legal documents were signed and changed hands at that time in order to effect the transfer from Bank of America to NBA. Photographers were present to record "the closing".  The future of the new Bank was toasted with champagne as the new pioneer in banking in Anguilla readied itself to serve the Anguillian public as of the 8 March 1985.
11 February 2005