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-- Staff get their share for the very first time…


Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - Directors and shareholders in the island’s biggest banking institution say the decision to merge the National Commercial Bank and the St. Lucia Development Bank to create the new Bank of Saint Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean Financial Holdings (ECFH) Group has paid off handsomely.


Their proof? The Group currently enjoys a 40% share of the local banking market and dominates in several areas of financial and banking services. In addition, it offers services regionally and internationally and has carved for itself a niche in the regional banking system.


But more, the ECFH is still the strongest local bank. It registered record profits over the years and broke all records last year.


Indeed, its 2005 report is a catalogue of success.


Chairman of the ECFH Group Victor Eudoxie and Managing Director Robert Norstrom last week announced record profits for 2005, as well as profit-sharing for the very first time.


They said last year was “the bank’s best year yet,” recording after-tax profits of $27.7 Million, representing a 53% increase over the previous year. Total assets grew by 22% and reached $1.3 Billion in 2005, while deposits grew by 30% to $1.0 Billion. Total shareholders equity increased by 17% to $146 Million.


Mr Eudoxie said the ECFH Group is now pursuing “a developmental focus” that will prepare it for “the challenges as well as the opportunities for customers and the Group itself” that will come with the new competitive environment of the CSME.


He also says the group will continue its thrust aimed at “modernizing its systems and processes to enable it to compete more effectively, with special attention paid to delivery channels to provide greater convenience to customers.”


In addition, Mr Eudoxie notes that “the responsibility of ensuring that delivery channels are world class is well understood and the group will play its parting ensuring the successful hosting of the cricket World Cup.”


The Chairman said the restructuring of the ownership and asset base of the institution and spreading it across the region “has also prepared the Group for future regional challenges.”


He said the ECFH Group “is also already gearing to compete and survive in the new global economic environment, as well as in the new Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).”

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