The government of Liberia (GOL) yesterday publicly divested (relinquished, gave up) itself of its shares in CEMENCO, for ownership by ordinary Liberians interested in acquiring said shares.
The GOL owns nearly 200,000 shares in the country’s premiere cement manufacturer.
The decision by GOL to divest itself of its shares in the cement corporation was taken recently and made public at a well-attended ceremony held Thursday afternoon at the 9th Street, Sinkor head offices of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
The GOL has hired the services of LBDI to undertake the divestiture with a specific mandate to sell its shares to ordinary Liberians’ and local Liberian own firms.
Applications for forms for the private purchase of the GOL’s 206,572 common stock of the Liberia Cement Corporation are currently, available, free of charge at LBDI branches on 9th Street and Randall Street. The offer was made public in the presence of LBDI General Manager Ms. Gloria Y. Menjor, LBDI Comptroller Mrs. Clavenda Payman, and Mr. Reginald Bropleh, as well as CEMENCO officials and Deputy Finance Minister for Revenue Dr. James Kollie, amongst others.
According to the offer condition, individual Liberian can purchase a minimum of five common stocks at US$12.00 per share; while the minimum of 1,000 common stocks and additional stock in multiple of 100. No single firm or company is allowed to purchase more than 15% of the total 206,572 the stocks.
According to LBDI officials, the US$12.00 per stock is payable in full on application, which opens on Monday, November 18, 2013 and closes on December, 20, 2013. Speaking at the launching for the floating of the GOL shares in CEMENCO, Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh assured Liberians that the government is serious about creating wealth for Liberians and putting them in charge of the economy.
According to the Finance Minister, transferring GOL’s shares to Liberians, the real owners, they (Liberians) will have the opportunity to share in the profits that CEMENCO is enjoying as a result of investing in Liberia.
Minister Konneh, who is also LBDI’s Board Chair, said “it is way past time that we (government) began to create wealth for ordinary Liberians.”
He disclosed that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has instructed her lieutenants (Cabinet Officials) to carry out, faithfully, various programs to ensure that Liberians benefit from the fruits of the economy.
“One thing that we made abundantly clear to LBDI is that no one Liberian can buy more than 15% of the total share offerings. We don’t want only wealthy and powerful Liberians to own these shares,” he said.
Minister Konneh encouraged ordinary Liberians including market women and men, Yana boys, school teachers, nurses, doctors and traders to take advantage of the divestiture.
“When more Liberians own a part of these investments,” he said “it generates a wealth protection safety net that can run across several generations.”
Minister Konneh also cautioned that those involved with the GOL shares divestiture initiative do their utmost to ensure that the exercise is not monopolized by any one group of Liberians, with wealth or authority, as the program is critical to her vision of creating a middle class in the economy, consistent with the Liberia Rising 2030 Vision and the Agenda for Transformation (AfT).
For his part, CEMENCO’s CEO Pramod Gemawat disclosed that his company’s production capacity has been enhanced.
According to Mr. Gemawat, CEMENCO is currently producing over 700,000 metric tons of cement, from about 180,000 metric tons few years ago.
He announced CEMENCO Global has attracted US$20 million investment from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and has used the investment to bolster its operations, thereby putting the corporation in a better position to produce enough cement for the construction of houses, roads, bridges and other structures.
Mr. Gemawat praised GOL for offering its shares to the public and used the occasion to encourage those interested in purchasing shares in the cement company without any fear.
“The corporation is profitable and so there is no need for any potential investor to be afraid,” he said. The CEMENCO CEO praised LBDI for playing a major role in ensuring the success of the transaction.
Also speaking at the ceremony, National Investment Commission (NIC) Chairman Michael Wotorson noted “it is a good thing that ordinary Liberians are now having the opportunity to own shares in a big company like CEMENCO. “This is very good opportunity for ordinary Liberians to buy into a profitable company,” he said.
“This also shows that the growth and strength of our financial sector is getting strong. All I can tell ordinary Liberians is for them to come and grab this opportunity,” the NIC boss added.
In his opening remarks earlier, LBDI president &chief executive officer (CEO) John B. S. Davies, III assured the public that LBDI will stick to the rules and ensure transparency in the issuance process. He said though LBDI has an interest in acquiring shares in CEMENCO, the rules will not be muzzled.
“We will not go above the 15% threshold for companies,” he said. The LBDI CEO emphasized that the essence of GOL divesting itself of its shares in CEMENCO to ordinary Liberians and to help make it possible for its citizens to become millionaires.