Your Board of Directors is confident that our operating results in the future will continue to grow and have recommended a final 2009 dividend of $0.70 (2008 – $0.70) per ordinary share. This, together with the interim dividend paid of $0.30 (2008 – $0.30), will bring the total dividend payable to shareholders for the year to $1.00 (2008 -$1.00).
At a time when global economic adjustments create uncertainty in the business world, as a Group, we recognise our responsibility to support communities and individuals to achieve a better quality of life across the region. In 2009, the Group invested over $15 million on a wide range of community partnerships in the areas of sport, culture, education, community development and environmental sustainability.
The ANSA McAL Foundation continues to focus on the Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence, and has in its 4 years of existence, awarded a total of $3 million to individuals who have uplifted and made an impact to our Caribbean communities in the areas of Arts & Letters, Public & Civil Contributions and Science & Technology. Our reach goes even beyond the territories in which we operate – the Group mobilised its Regional network in an immediate response to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti and our teams raised in excess of $1 million in cash and vital medical and other supplies for aid relief.
Beyond our diversified portfolio of businesses and behind our performance, is the energy and commitment of an exceptionally gifted 6,000 strong ANSA McAL Team, who have rallied to the call to keep costs down, productivity up and thus deliver exceptional value to our customers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our people, customers and investors for their continuing loyalty and support.
The Group, following the Leadership Development and Executive Development Programmes in 2007 and 2008, will be embarking on the construction of a Learning Resource Centre. This multimillion dollar facility will be located in Champs Fleurs and will become the knowledge hub for our staff and employees.
We wish to also acknowledge the support and contribution of all the Directors who sit on the Parent Board and all the Boards of our various subsidiaries. Our talented team of Executives provided sound advice and guidance throughout the year and effected strategies that keep ANSA McAL the most progressive conglomerate in the region.
I would like to specifically recognise the contribution of Mr. Grenfell Kissoon, who recently retired as a member of the Group’s Parent Board. During his tenure with the Group, Mr. Kissoon has made sterling contributions to the deliberations of the Parent Board, and his leadership in the overall management of the Media Group since January 1994, has led to significant developments in this area. Mr. Kissoon will continue in a non-executive capacity as the Head of the Media Sector.
We take the opportunity to express sincere gratitude to him for his years of service and wish him well in the future. In the same vein, it is with great pleasure that we welcome Mr. Andrew Sabga as a Director of the Group’s Parent Board.
Mr. Andrew Sabga has worked for 20 years in the Group, and as Sector Head, has led the Beverage Sector (the Group’s largest Sector). He has demonstrated strong and effective leadership, as is evidenced by the significant growth of this Sector.
In Barbados, we also said farewell to Mr. John Bellamy, who retired from the position of Chairman of ANSA McAL (Barbados) Limited, a post he held since January 1, 2005. Mr. Bellamy joined A. S. Bryden & Sons (Barbados) Ltd. On May 1, 1968, in the Insurance Division. In March 1979, he became a Director of the company and on December 1, 1994, Managing Director, and Chairman from 1996.
When A. S. Bryden & Sons (Barbados) Ltd. was acquired by ANSA McAL (Barbados) Ltd., Mr. Bellamy played an important role in the cultural transformation of Brydens’ operations into our Group.
Mr. Bellamy’s contribution to the Group is much appreciated and we take this opportunity to thank him for his many years of excellent service and guidance.
Outlook – 2010
The outlook predicts another tough trading period for the international and regional economies. I recognise that the teams have continued to execute well against the V2010 plan. However, the EPS Target of $5 that was announced in 2006, is proving to be a tough challenge in light of the significant, unpredicted changes in the business environment. Whilst our Executive teams continue to be relentless in their execution of this V10 plan, the reality is that more time will be needed to achieve this EPS objective. The Group’s performance continues to be very commendable and is based on solid business fundamentals.
A. Norman Sabga
Chairman and Chief Executive