Ascendant Group Reduces Dividend Per Share

June 12, 2014

Ascendant Group Limited – the parent company of BELCO — declared a dividend of 7.5₵ per share payable on June 30, 2014 to shareholders of record as of June 19, 2014.

The Company said this “follows a thorough review of Ascendant Group’s dividend policy by the Board of Directors, as the Company moves to retain more capital within the Company to invest in Bermuda’s energy infrastructure and deals with the effects on the Company of Bermuda’s sustained economic recession.

“The energy infrastructure investment requires Ascendant Group capital as well as access to capital from world financial markets to provide new, cleaner, more efficient and lower cost energy production to the Bermuda community. The Company will be formally proposing its Integrated Resource Plan [IRP] soon.

“The recommended plan calls for a diverse portfolio of energy solutions, including renewable energy deployment, conservation and energy efficiency measures, and a transition to liquefied natural gas [LNG] fuel to achieve lower cost energy.”

President & Chief Executive Officer of Ascendant Group Limited, Walter M. Higgins said, “We believe that the former dividend level is unsustainable, given Bermuda’s current economic realities, the effect this has had on the Company’s financial performance and the strategic energy needs of the Island.

“By reducing the quarterly dividend to 7.5₵ per share, we will retain some of the much-needed capital to invest in energy infrastructure, while providing a dividend return to investors commensurate with Company earnings in this difficult economy. The reduced annual dividend positions our dividend payout ratio in line with other comparable utilities.

Mr. Higgins said the initial rollout of renewable and energy efficiency measures contained within the IRP could begin within one year, but transitioning to LNG will take longer.

“The IRP is complex and requires a year of additional planning and consultation to arrive at a planning and regulatory framework which will work for customers and investors,” said Mr. Higgins.

“Renewable pilot projects are already underway and energy efficiency measures could begin once there is regulatory approval. It is estimated it will take three to five years to build the LNG infrastructure, and this, too, will lead to reduced costs, as LNG has lower and less volatile pricing than the fuel oil we presently use. LNG is also cleaner with fewer emissions entering the environment.”

The Company said, “Historically, the Company’s annual capital investment in infrastructure and business operations has surpassed the Company’s annual net earnings. Shareholders have enabled the Company to invest between $20 million and $40 million annually in electricity system infrastructure.

“The investment enables Bermuda’s residents and businesses to enjoy a 99.96% system reliability rating, which set the standard for small island jurisdictions. In 2013, the Company’s electric utility, BELCO received CARILEC’s “Best Utility Award” for its performance, as compared with Caribbean electric utilities. BELCO’s electricity prices are very comparable to most other island nations/states. The Company also continues to take steps to decrease its operating and administrative expenses.”

Mr. Higgins said, “Clean, affordable, reliable energy is absolutely fundamental to this country’s quality of life and productivity, including business retention and development.

“Likewise, Ascendant’s success is directly linked to Bermuda’s growth, stability and prosperity. It is in the best interests of shareholders, employees, consumers and the community at large for Ascendant Group to invest in our business in order to secure a bright energy future for Bermuda.”

Ascendant Group Limited is a publicly traded investment holding company whose shares trade on the Bermuda Stock Exchange .

Ascendant Group is the parent company of BELCO, Bermuda Gas & Utility Company Limited and AG Holdings Limited, which includes Air Care Limited, iFM Limited, iEPC Limited, PureNERGY Renewables, Ltd. and Ascendant Properties Limited.

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  1. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    I wish that the Government would reduce the Import duty , so “We the People” can get a chance to get back on our feet, that would drive the cost of living down and make Bermuda More affordable for you and I and our Visitors.

    if we don’t do well then how can the Government do well ?

    that would drive the cost of living down and make Bermuda more affordable for our visitors.

    Where are the Tourism Authority hiding these days ?