Business

Legal case with Access not cause of low Mayberry stock price, say executives

Friday, June 20, 2014    

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THE Mayberry Investments chairman, Christopher Berry, told shareholders on Wednesday that the legal fight with its associated company Access Financial Services remains unrelated to Mayberry's stock price dipping to near 52-week lows.

Concurrently, Mayberry CEO Gary Peart told shareholders not to "necessarily rely on what you read in the papers" about the legal fight.

It was in response to whether the case hurt Mayberry's image.

"I don't think it has affected the stock price at all. That is my opinion,"responded Berry to a shareholder's query at the annual general meeting held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

The stock closed at $1.50 on Wednesday which equates to the lowest point in a year. Contextually, Mayberry is one of many stocks trading close to one-year lows. A number of investors are converting to US-dollar instruments that protect against currency depreciation.

The roughly 100 shareholders and staff at the meeting voiced concerns on dividends, new revenue sources and the court case.

Despite these concerns the mood remained even-tempered, and laughter puntuated some queries.

Outspoken shareholder Orette Staple, asked Berry whether his public image and that of the company suffered from the legal case.

"People sympathetic to him [James] have been posting a lot of stuff in the papers. I don't know if you think a director in a company should be running around responding to every article in the paper," said Berry. "I think my time is better spent trying to seek out value and preserve value for the sharehodlers.

"That is exactly what myself and director Peart are trying to do at Access. It's in court and there are limits to what I can say and I probably have already said way too much. But what I have said is true."

Mayberry CEO Gary Peart interjected: "I shouldn't say this, but I will say it. There are certain things that are a matter of public record. And if someone like a Mr Staple likes to get answers to questions, go to a particular court house and make a request. He can determine, or anybody can determine, whether there is a dispute, an issue or whether Gary Peart looks bad or whether this person looks bad. Don't necessarily rely on what you read in the papers."

The market value of Mayberry's investment in Access has grown to some $1.3 billion to date, according to the company's financial statements. Berry described the investment as "great" up to the legal fight.

"We did say that we are willing to sell our shares. We want to sell it and get a great price," Berry told shareholders.

On April 3, Marcus James, head of Access, obtained an injunction from the Supreme Court preventing three of the company's directors from removing him as CEO.

Access Financial directors Christopher Berry, Gary Peart and Brian Goldson, as well a Mayberry West Indies Limited, were named as defendants in James's claim.

James said in his affidavit that he received a letter from the directors requiring him to answer charges with a view to remove him as CEO.

"Two Mayberry directors sit on the board of Access: me and Gary Peart," Berry said about Access at the AGM. "We felt that the interest of the company was not well served based on the things we saw. We wanted to ask questions, but CEO Marcus James filed action preventing us from asking those questions up to now."

For the 12 months ended December 31, 2013, Access posted $270 million in net profit, up from $238 million in the corresponding period in the prior year. The principal shareholders in Access are James and Mayberry West Indies, a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of Mayberry Investments Limited.

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