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Bermuda's History 2014

News and significant events for this calendar year

line drawing

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us).

See end of this file for all of our many History files

January

January 2.  Two dentists have had their “extraordinary” and lengthy legal battles with the Bermuda Dental Board highlighted in an international report — and it doesn’t cast the Island in a favorable light, according to one of them. James Fay, of Paget Dental Group, said the fact that his story and another matter involving David Thompson were used as case studies in the Dental Protection Annual Review 2013 wasn’t a positive thing, but did show the need for urgent review of the legislation governing Bermuda’s dental industry. The Review, in an article entitled ‘One country — two journeys’, claims there was a “disproportionate level of activity” in relation to actions taken by the Bermuda Dental Board in this “relatively small jurisdiction” between 2000 and 2010. “Two cases in particular involved complex legal challenges — in the one case by way of judicial review...and in the other case by a long and convoluted route all the way to the Privy Council,” the article says. Dental Protection Ltd (DPL) is a malpractice insurer with 50 members in Bermuda, including Dr Fay, and it funded his legal case. It has 62,000 members around the world who each receive a copy of its Annual Review. The article says the same legal firm represented Dr Fay and Dr Thompson, sharing “these extraordinary journeys” with them and with DPL. “The two cases serve to illustrate the tenacity and endurance of the members involved, as well as DPL’s willingness to fight important points of principle that involved fair treatment of our members and the determination of our legal representatives to help us achieve this,” the article continues. The case involving Dr Fay saw him and his former hygienist Keri Payne found guilty of serious misconduct, and inefficiency, by the Dental Board following a complaint made in 2003 about Ms Payne carrying out tooth filling work she was not licensed to do.

January 2.  Police officers had a relatively quiet start to the new year as a result of multiple reports of violence across the Island which left two people needing medical care. According to a police spokesman, at 12.49am officers responded to a report of an assault at an event at Pier 6, which left a Smith’s woman requiring facial surgery.

January 2.  Marsh Folly workers are faced with health and safety risks due to members of the public illegally dumping items at the facility, including dead animals. While the March Folly facility is intended to collect residential horticultural waste- such as Christmas trees — and commercial waste for composting, for years the facility has been left dealing with household waste left by the public.

January 2.  A recently-formed fundraising organization for the Island’s non-profit sector is to receive $6 million in donations over the next five years. Bermuda Community Foundation (BCF) CEO and managing director Myra Virgil described the donations as “a founding investment” for the organization. An investment manager has not yet been put in place, but is expected to be chosen by March, Ms Virgil said. The $6 million grant to BCF comes from the charity giant Atlantic Philanthropies, plus $2 million from RenaissanceRe Limited, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the XL Foundation. The money will go toward “building a permanent charitable endowment that generates and supports strategic philanthropy in Bermuda”, Ms Virgil told The Royal Gazette.

January 2.  Governor George Fergusson signed four pieces of legislation into law on Christmas Eve, including the Liquor Licence Amendment Act 2013. Confirmation of the Governor's assent was published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, essentially clearing the way for liquor stores and grocery outlets to sell alcohol on Sundays. And all indications point to next weekend being the first time retailers will test the public's appetite for buying alcohol on a Sunday. While some liquor store owners said they're ready to make sales as of this Sunday, others plan to get permission first from Bermuda's Liquor Licensing Authority.

January 2.  The Bermuda Sloop Foundation is moving closer to it’s goal of sustainability, despite the challenges of fundraising in the current economic climate. “As I am sure it was for most charities, 2013 was a very challenging fundraising year as we all strived to endure current economic conditions,” Denise Riviere, CEO of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, said. “Nevertheless, I was pleased to see just how much the Bermudian Community as a whole continues to believe in the power of experiential learning and character development as interventions in the fight against the social and academic ills of today’s youth. In our last fiscal year, fundraising efforts, events, and cost cutting where possible helped raise $1.5 million towards our annual operational expenses.”

January 3. Most children of today won’t remember black and white television, or the countless black and white photographs in the homes of thousands of once young Bermudians who passed through the Jackson School of Performing Arts. Long before cultural arts were popular among the masses, there was once a schoolteacher who hailed from Philadelphia, who was recruited to teach physical education and dance at the Berkeley Institute. It was the beginning of a career that would span decades and impact the lives of thousands of young artistic enthusiasts since 1953. To this day, the school still stands in its original location on Burnaby Street. As the school’s founder, Ms Jackson will be fondly remembers as a trail blazer way before her time in Bermuda’s cultural arts community. A record of firsts will be her legacy. The school changed hands after 46 years of operation as the largest and longest established dance school in Bermuda’s history. Jeanne Legere and her husband Robert became principal shareholders with Ms Jackson and her husband, the late Senate President Albert Jackson. Over the years, the Jackson School of Performing Arts introduced thousands of young Bermudians from all walks of life to the arts. The school was established by Ms Jackson to “enable children of all races and backgrounds the opportunity to dance.”

January 4.  Harsh winter weather in the US forced the cancellations of some flights to and from Bermuda yesterday. As much as two feet of snow was dumped in the Northeast since Wednesday as part of a storm system known as Winter Storm Hercules, causing the cancellation of more than 4,000 flights to and from the region. American Airlines cancelled flights 1443 and 1416 between Bermuda and New York’s JFK airport, while Jet Blue flights 1731 and 1732 between Bermuda and the same airport were cancelled. US Airways meanwhile cancelled flights 824 and 825 between Bermuda and Philadelphia. Other flights to the region, including flights servicing Boston, Newark, Toronto and New York’s LaGuardia airport, were also affected by the weather. Newark and Boston recorded 8.5in and 14.6in of snow respectively, while Philadelphia recorded around nine inches. A total of 6.4in were recorded in New York’s Central Park, while other areas in the Northeast experienced as much as two feet of snow.

January 5. Capital G Bank Ltd will be making a formal announcement about the outcome of potential partnership discussions in the very near future, a spokesman said yesterday. At the beginning of December the privately held bank confirmed it was in discussions regarding its future, calling the move part of its overall strategic growth plans, and stating in a release that the aim of the talks were a broadening of its product offerings, growing the size of its customer base and competing more aggressively for business locally and internationally. Yesterday the Capital G spokesman would not confirm rumors that the Bank is exploring links in the Islamic finance sector. He said: "We have nothing new to report at this time. We will be in touch with all media in the very near future with a formal announcement." Capital G is one of the Gibbons Group of Companies, which has extensive operations in Bermuda and internationally.

January 14. A bank ban on US travelers’ cheques and money orders was yesterday blasted by the boss of an tourist booking service. And Fiona Campbell, owner of Bermuda Accommodations, said the move could damage the Island’s already struggling visitor industry. Ms Campbell added: “We’ve just gotten a note from Butterfield telling people they can’t spend travelers’ cheques in Bermuda and that there’s all sorts of restrictions on money orders.” Ms Campbell was speaking after Butterfield Bank said it would no longer accept US dollar traveler's cheques or money orders, which are issued by places like the US Postal Service and Money Gram, because US-imposed restrictions aimed at money launderers meant they cost too much in time and money to process. 

American Express travelers checks no longer valid in Bermuda

No longer usable, see above story

January 16.  Elbow Beach will be under new management this Spring when the current management contract with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group ends. According to a spokeswoman, the Elbow Beach Hotel and Development Company Limited will assume management control of the Paget resort on April 1. Ayed Al Jeaid, Board Chairman of The Elbow Beach Hotel and Development Company Limited said: "The ownership and board of Elbow Beach Hotel would like to express their appreciation for the exceptional management services that Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has provided over the years. We are confident that the resort will remain well positioned for success." The spokeswoman said that despite the management change, the resort will continue to operate as usual, and will remain focused on providing exceptional service to its guests. Meanwhile, the Lido Complex at Elbow Beach is about to launch a winter promotion which will include the reopening of the Deep Lounge and nightclub. Cafe Lido will be offering 20 percent discounts on food and drinks 25 percent for parties of 10 and more.

January 27. Local physicians are “overwhelmingly” opposed to a health plan imposed by Government to rein in unnecessary and expensive diagnostic testing. The initiative, known as pre-certification, will force doctors to consult with insurance companies or other third party to obtain permission for tests on their patients. It has been criticized as time-wasting, expensive and liable to cause “death by delay.” The Ministry of Health did not respond to repeated questions on the proposal — but pre-certification was yesterday blasted by the Bermuda Medical Doctors’ Association (BMDA) as putting patients’ safety at risk. 

Health Care in Bermuda

See story above

February

February 1.  The contents of one of Bermuda's most historic houses have been put up for sale. And a rare Bermuda cedar chest and furniture, as well as 18th century silverware, are among the items for sale from the Devondale estate in Devonshire. The sale organized by specialists Stock X Change and which starts today and runs until Saturday will see the contents of the historic listed house, which was built in 1773, sold before it is turned over as a bequest to the Bermuda National Trust.

Devondale, Devonshire

Devondale, Devonshire

February 4, 2014. The first six months of this year show an eight percent rise in group bookings, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA). The increase shows growth in the travel sector known by the acronym MICE: meetings, incentive, conferencing and exhibitions business. The BTA reported a seven percent rise in business travel, with a 41 percent rise in convention business characterized as a rebound from 2012s drastic loss. Other figures released yesterday by the authority showed a modest rise overall in last year's air arrivals last year. A total of 236,343 visitors flew to Bermuda in 2013, up from 232,063 in 2012. Cruise arrivals continued to decline in 2013, down ten percent over 2012, with 340,030 people cruising to Bermuda for the year. A drop in yacht arrivals was attributed to the biennial Newport to Bermuda yacht race not being held in 2013. It will be held this year. The BTA has pledged to publicize a broad range of data on the Island's tourism performance. Information will include hotel revenues, according to the organisations new chief executive officer Bill Hanbury, who said the group was committed to sharing details on a timely basis. At a press conference yesterday, Mr Hanbury voiced cautious optimism at some improvements shown by the latest figures for last year. These include a six percent increase in air arrivals for the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with the fourth quarter of 2012. Total hotel room bookings are also up five percent for the next six months compared with last year and the number of room nights booked during December increased 10 percent on December, 2012.

February 10. Government has kept quiet on plans to curtail high-cost diagnostic imaging but the hospital has defended itself against claims by local physicians that it has been the main culprit for spiraling healthcare costs. Pre-certification, which requires doctors to get a second opinion, is aimed at cutting down on the frivolous use of procedures such as MRIs and CT scans. The imaging tests cost thousands of dollars and come with their own health risks: CT scans deliver significant doses of radiation. A Health Ministry spokeswoman said Government was working in tandem with the Bermuda Health Council to realize a public information paper on the rationale and workings of pre-certification. The focus will be on diagnostic testing, which includes medical imaging and clinical labs, and the intent is that before such procedures can be carried out, they would have to be pre-approved by an authorized entity, based on standardized medical guidelines, she said, adding that more information would be released in due course. Details on how the scheme would be implemented in Bermuda, such as whether pre-certification would take place by phone or online, have yet to be revealed. Pre-certification is common in the US managed healthcare system and similar procedures are employed under the UK's National Health Service as the soaring cost of healthcare leads to rising insurance premiums. Bermudas healthcare system is second only to the US for year-on-year increases that were branded unsustainable by Government three years ago. Physicians have attacked Governments rationale for introducing the system to the Island.

February 12. Thirteen staff, all Bermudians, were made redundant by the Coral Beach and Tennis Club, even as the labour dispute over the Fairmont Hamilton Princess captured headlines. The positions were cut on January 31, according to managing director Tim Thuell. None were unionized, a spokeswoman said. Eight housekeeping jobs were chopped from the South Shore resort, leaving five still on the job and all five security staff were made redundant.

February 18. Michelle Wolfe was elected president of the Bermuda Association of Licensed Trustees (BALT). The organization that represents the trust and related industry also announced the election of vice-president Kim White, treasurer Deanna Didyk and secretary Michael McAuley. Founded in 1994, BALT is a forum for the interests of its stakeholders and acts as a representative body for all 30 companies licensed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority to carry on trust and related business in Bermuda. BALT makes representations to Government and is often invited to deliver submissions and reports on trust legislation, fiduciary ethics, good practice and regulation of the industry. The Association is a key contributor to the Bermuda Business Development Agency's strategic plan to promote existing international business and actively develop new business in Bermuda.

February 18. A Bermuda court has ruled that an $18.5 million Singapore arbitration hearing decision is binding on a Bermuda-based conglomerate. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled in Supreme Court that Sampoerna Strategic Holdings had to comply with the order from an arbitration hearing in Singapore. And the ruling is being seen as a commitment by the Bermuda courts to support arbitration in disputes over court proceedings in international commercial cases. Now the Bermuda firm has to pay the cash to Hong Kong firm Huawei Tech Investment and Huawei International, of Singapore said to be owed for the supply of goods as well as costs, or face winding-up proceedings. In a written judgement released at the weekend, Mr Kawaley said that it was clear that the respondent had not raised any seriously arguable foundation for declining to enforce the award on public policy grounds. And it was again perhaps unsurprising that the respondent did not have the temerity to seek to pursue this ground of challenge to the decision of the Singaporean tribunal before the Singaporean courts. Mr Kawaley issued his judgement as he dismissed the Sampoerna Holdings claim that it had ben denied its natural justice rights the chance to plead its case at the Singapore arbitration hearing. 

February 18. A total of five new companies’ registrations were confirmed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority in January, it was announced yesterday. They included Rubik Reinsurance, Ltd., a Class 3A entity under the BMA insurance-type structure, Broadhead Risk Management Ltd., a Class 2, Hyaline Re Ltd., a Class 3A, Swan Re Ltd. a class 3A and Beechwood Bermuda International Ltd. which is a Class C. Year to date, the five confirmed registrations make up the register for 2014. The BMA reported that the Monthly Assessment & Licensing Committee (ALC) reviewed five insurance applications in January. Two of the applications were declined and three applications were approved. They also state that registration and licensing of approved insurance entities is subsequent to the ALC application process, and may be confirmed in future periods.

February 18. Bermuda registered 1,200 new companies last year, the most in five years. Education and Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons said it was one more sign that Bermuda is moving in the right direction after years of decline. Dr Gibbons said the tally of new companies was the highest since 2008 the year in which the global financial crisis struck and was up 16 percent from the 1,035 recorded in 2012. 

February 19. More than $100 million could be slashed from Government expenditure in Friday's Budget, an economics expert said yesterday. Consultant Peter Everson predicts that Finance Minister Bob Richards will aim for larger cuts than those proposed by the SAGE Commission, which was set up to look at cutting Government expenditure. Government borrowed $330 million last year to cover Budget shortfalls and Mr Everson said the country would have to dig itself out of debt as fast as possible. Bob Richards gave a strong indication in his speech to the Chamber of Commerce on the SAGE Commission he said he would be more aggressive than SAGE, which called for a cut of $65 million in the first year. "My guess would be $100 million or $110 million because that's a third of $330 million," said Mr Everson, who sat on the SAGE Commission. "The SAGE Commission was very clear that the bulk of Government spending goes on people. So people costs have to be right at the centre of it. The previous Government had cut back on services in its Budget of two years ago. There is nothing much left to cut, so we are looking at people. That would be the Civil Service and also the quangos because they are funded by grants to the tune of $200 million. 500 jobs cuts in the Civil Service could be achieved by abolishing vacant posts which run at about 500 every month and by offering early retirement, which would also help deal with the pensions funding time bomb. The average remaining working life of for a Civil Servant is 12 years, that's a lot of people who will be retiring in the next few years." Mr Everson pointed to the Bank of Butterfield, which offered employees aged 55 or more an early retirement package. "That made an enormous difference to their costs, which have come down hugely due to that," he said. Both Mr Everson and Bermuda College economics lecturer Craig Simmons backed longer-term economic plans over an annual budget. Mr Simmons also called for no across-the-board tax increases which might help balance the books, but push the country back into recession. But he predicted a hike in taxes on technology. Mr Simmons said: "We need a plan and I don't think an annual Budget is really a plan, especially for those people who loaned us several million dollars in the Government senior notes issue back in June. We were promised a plan then and it's only right we have that from an economic perspective tax payers are owed a medium term framework on how Government is going to reduce its spending. I am expecting the first multiyear Budget on Friday. That's what is needed and its arguably the most needed part of the Budget. I would expect tax increases on telecommunications specifically cell phones and internet usage. These are two of the few growth areas in the economy and tend to be insensitive to price."

February 25.  Digital TV provider WOW is to muscle in on the telecoms market with a package including phone, internet and television services that could help drive prices down. WOW president and CEO Stanley Wright said the firm is to offer a range of packages — with a single bill — for the first time in Bermuda. And he said the extra competition in the market could help customers get a better deal. Wright added: “How far down it will drive prices, I don’t know, because there are still the overheads which have to supported in the Bermuda context. But it will bring prices down because people can look at their margins across all products. Providers faced an increase in license fees later this year, which would have to be factored in. Having said that, the consumer should benefit from what we’re doing. It also means they now reduce who they have to talk to one — they can now talk to one person and get their queries or issues resolved. It is with great pleasure and excitement that WOW can be the first to announce the introduction of a suite of telecommunication services including, voice for local and long distance calling, high speed internet, television and high definition (HD) programming at economical pricing with one bill, one stop and one great customer care contact.” 

February 25. Senior members of the Civil Service will be accountable for the 2014 budgets constraints, said Minister of Finance Bob Richards, speaking to a large audience at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess at the Chamber of Commerce's annual post-budget breakfast yesterday. In his speech to Chamber members, Mr Richards had pointed to a two-track strategy to move the country forward, saying: "Encourage growth and control and cut Government expenses. We have to do both at the same time." Economist Peter Everson, a former CEO of an international investment manager, who was sitting on the panel with the Finance Minister, had stated Government and the private sectors were chalk and cheese. He pointed to poor policy decisions and ineffective implementation within Government and said the result is: "A woeful outcome. It's quite simple the private sector stands on its own two feet." Mr Richards told the audience there is nothing intrinsically superior between decision makers in the public and private sectors, and said his own experience was 40 years of working in the private sector. "It has to do with carrot and stick in the private sector, there are rewards for good performance and the stick, if you don't perform, there are consequences. The carrot and stick really does not exist in Government. The whole effect of it relates to accountability, particularly for senior people." Mr Richards returned to the subject of senior civil service accountability at the end of the morning's event. "The whole question of accountability in Government appears to be something new. I have concluded that the culture in Government with senior people in particular is that they don't feel accountable for the budget numbers. In other countries, accounting officers will suffer some sort of consequences. It has never happened in Bermuda, so this is a change of culture we are trying to institute where senior managers have to be held accountable for these numbers. I've tried to focus Government on the budget and budget restrictions, [but] we have not been able to change the corporate culture in Government overnight. We are working hard so that each individual Ministry respects those budgetary restrictions. I recognize it is a problem, but we are working through the Civil Service and the Ministry of Finance is being pig-headed. The status quo is not an option we have to change. We don't expect things to get better on their own we have to make it change. The Government cannot do it alone, we have to do it together. We have to work together to make the Bermuda economy grow to make jobs. We have to have oars pulling in the same direction."

February 26. Specialty re/insurer Canopius Group Ltd held a reception to mark a successful partnership with Bermuda in the wake of the company's takeover by Japanese giant NKSJ Holdings. The event, which took place at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, was attended by Dr. Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development and Education, Bob Richards, Minister of Finance, Gerald Simons, Bermuda Monetary Authority Chairman, key industry and business leaders as well as members of the Canopius Group senior executive, including chairman and chief executive Michael Watson. Canopius Bermuda, which was launched in 2007, employs a team of ten, most of whom are Bermudian. It has achieved consistent growth in its business and underwriting capacity. In addition to ongoing business expansion, Canopius Bermuda is a committed participant in a number of community programmes including the Sunshine League, with Canopius Bermuda senior insurance executive Annemarie Tobin serving as the organization's chair.

February 26.  Senior members of the Civil Service will be accountable for the 2014 budget's constraints, said Minister of Finance Bob Richards, speaking to a large audience at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess at the Chamber of Commerce's annual post-budget breakfast yesterday. In his speech to Chamber members, Mr Richards had pointed to a two-track strategy to move the country forward: encourage growth and control and cut Government expenses. "We have to do both at the same time," he said. Economist Peter Everson, a former CEO of an international investment manager, who was sitting on the panel with the Finance Minister, had stated Government and the private sectors were chalk and cheese. He pointed to poor policy decisions and ineffective implementation within Government. The result is: "A woeful outcome. It's quite simple the private sector stands on its own two feet." Mr Richards told the audience there is nothing intrinsically superior between decision makers in the public and private sectors, and said his own experience was 40 years of working in the private sector. "It has to do with carrot and stick in the private sector there are rewards for good performance and the stick, if you don't perform, there are consequences. The carrot and stick really doesn't exist in Government. The whole effect of it relates to accountability, particularly for senior people." Mr Richards returned to the subject of senior civil service accountability at the end of the mornings event. He said: "The whole question of accountability in Government appears to be something new. I have concluded that the culture in Government with senior people in particular is that they don't feel accountable for the budget numbers. In other countries, accounting officers will suffer some sort of consequences. It has never happened in Bermuda, so this is a change of culture we are trying to institute where senior managers have to be held accountable for these numbers. I've tried to focus Government on the budget and budget restrictions, [but] we have not been able to change the corporate culture in Government overnight. We are working hard so that each individual Ministry respects those budgetary restrictions. I recognize it is problem, but we are working through the Civil Service and the Ministry of Finance is being pig-headed. The status quo is not an option we have to change. We don't expect things to get better on their own we have to make it change. The Government cannot do it alone, we have to do it together. We have to work together to make the Bermuda economy grow to make jobs. We have to have oars pulling in the same direction."

February 26. The extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) — set to expire at the end of this year — is at the top of the re/insurance industry’s federal legislation priorities list, according to industry publication Business Insurance. It states: “For many insurance trade groups, extending the federal terrorism insurance backstop again tops the list of federal legislative priorities this year, but with a sense of urgency greater than last year. That is because the programme established by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, passed in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is slated to expire at the end of 2014.” The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) is a United States federal law creating a federal ‘backstop’ for insurance claims related to acts of terrorism, and was drafted with input from the Bermuda-based industry. Risk & Insurance Management Society Ltd (RIMS), one of those trade groups, reported yesterday that their president Carolyn Snow testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs during the ‘Reauthorising TRIA: The State of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Market, Part II’ hearing in Washington, DC. RIMS is a global not-for-profit organization representing more than 3,500 industrial, service, non-profit, charitable and government entities throughout the world, with 11,000 practicing members. According to the RIMS release, Ms Snow’s testimony described the current state of the terrorism risk insurance market; the role TRIA currently plays in the market; and the programme’s features that are designed to protect workers, communities and taxpayers. 

February 26. Big business has backed a relaxation of the rule ensuring majority Bermuda ownership of local companies. The Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC) said that the Budget pledges to review of the 60/40 rule, support for the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and the creation of the new Bermuda Tourism Authority signaled a commitment to getting the Island back on track. Each of those initiatives is focused on the objectives to retain existing business and attract new businesses and revenue sources to the Island, ABIC said. "We believe there is an urgent need to formulate and execute strategies which maintain and grow international business, tourism and additional revenue sources." ABIC chief George Hutchings said that the two-track strategy proposed by Finance Minister Bob Richards growth in the economy and a cut in Government expenditure would assist recovery. "ABIC supports the actions already taken and those promised to further develop a business-friendly environment and to promote investment and job creation. We encourage the implementation of targets and accountability in the management of our Islands finances and to close the Budget deficit at a pace that the Bermuda community can withstand." Mr Hutchings was speaking after Mr Richards last Friday announced a total of $70 million in spending cuts but with no job losses, at least in the current financial year. He added that the Islands debt burden could only be reduced if existing businesses and jobs were retained. And he said that international business and support services provided more than 80 percent of Bermudas foreign exchange and a third of air visitors, while most of the jobs in the sector were held by Bermudians. The ABIC statement added: "Our members have identified cost, immigration reform and a business-friendly environment as key issues and progress has been made on each of these areas. Changes to the Incentives for Job Makers Act which made it easier for non-Bermudian senior executives to be exempt from work permit requirements and to be granted permanent residency and changes to work permit policy, as well as no new taxes, would help job creation. Public policy should create certainty and encourage investment while allowing us to improve the Islands competitiveness and to grow jobs and Government revenues. ABIC continues to have an open and transparent dialogue with the Government with regard to the consultation on key international business policies as well as the sharing of information and data that will help to further develop Bermuda as the domicile of choice. And more importantly, ABIC wants to grow those jobs necessary to accelerate our economic recovery and provide the Bermudian people with employment opportunities to support their families."

March

March 4. Premier Craig Cannonier is to sign over stewardship of Bermuda's 175,000 square miles of ocean waters that make up the island's Economic Exclusion Zone, as well as its territorial waters, to an international commission without the Legislature approving the move, in just one week's time. The Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea will be subject to: ... "an executive action concerning issues beyond Bermuda. The Government may enter into such voluntary arrangements without the need for legislative approval," stated a Government spokesperson. The Premier, along with the signatories from as many as 10 additional countries, is preparing for the multilateral event which is set for March 11. However, Government will not release that list of signatories until after the Declaration is signed. The Declaration covers the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial sea around Bermuda, (excluding the shallow water habitats associated with the Bermuda platform at the base of the Bermuda Rise) and agrees to set up The Sargasso Sea Commission which is to exercise a stewardship role for the Sargasso Sea and keep its health, productivity and resilience under continual review. A concerned group called The Exclusive Economic Zone Stakeholder Caucus, who describe themselves as a group of motivated Bermudians and residents, including scientists, commercial and recreational fishermen, trans-ocean cable operators, mineral prospectors and conservationists, are objecting to the multinational agreement.  

March 4. The price of gas has gone up by 5.3 cents a litre. The change means that the maximum cost at the pumps will now be 212.30 cents a litre. Diesel fuel has also gone up by 1.2 cents a litre with the new maximum price set at 188.80 cents a litre. Kerosene has also risen in price, going up 1.3 cents a litre and will now cost a maximum of 161.30 cents. The changes, announced by the Ministry of Finance, took effect last month.

March 4.  Cuts in health spending totaling $17.6 million will cause some to “suffer distress,” Health Minister Trevor Moniz told MPs. Mr Moniz was speaking as he announced that subsidies for Standard Hospital Benefit (SHB) — the minimum cover in any health insurance policy sold in Bermuda — would be reduced. Now the SHB portability — overseas coverage — will be abolished, which includes portability of subsidy, in order to save around $9.6 million. And special age subsidies for seniors will also be cut. For those aged 65-74, the subsidy will be cut by ten percent to 70 percent and for those aged 75 and over by ten percent to 80 percent. Mr Moniz told MPs yesterday after being questioned by PLP MPs on the changes: “The whole community is going to suffer distress as a result of the situation we found when we came into office ... that’s situation we are stuck with. No one wants to see public benefits reduced and I, in particular, would prefer to see no reductions in health benefits as I’m too aware of the potential impact on patients and the public.” But Mr Moniz added that the Ministry had to reduce its budget by seven percent — which meant a choice between cuts in public health services or reduced spending on subsidies and grants. Mr Moniz added that SHB covers most local hospital services and some diagnostic imaging procedures outside the hospital, as well as some overseas hospital treatment.

March 5.  A bid to include public transport and cruise ship tug and line boats as essential services was last night defended by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy. He spoke in advance of a debate on the controversial measure in the House of Assembly and said: "Over the course of last year and this year we have seen far too many instances where members of the public and our visitors have been massively inconvenienced due to transportation services being pulled because of irregular industrial action. In each case, these irregular industrial actions occurred with little or no notice to the public. Transport shutdowns hit the Islands economic health, with lost Government revenue and disruption to the private sector because employees were unable to travel to and from work. Such irregular industrial actions also have a seriously negative effect on our reputation as a premier tourist destination. 

March 6.  Parliament and the Senate should be put together under the same roof as soon as possible, according to a report on Bermuda's governance tabled in the House of Assembly. The Joint Select Committee also recommended that a new, independent body known as the Management Commission be established with oversight for the administration of the Island's legislature. Committee chairman Cole Simons told the House that our legislature doesn't measure up in the areas of organizational effectiveness and accountability, and said the Committee called for a commission from across the political spectrum to manage it. Such a Commission would be chaired by the Speaker of the House and would consist of both the Premier and Opposition Leader, the Senate President, four MPs appointed by the House none of whom would be either Ministers or Junior Ministers plus a member of the Senate, and the Clerk of the House of Assembly. According to the report, this body would then handle the staffing, budgeting and support services for Parliament delegating day to day management to the Clerk of the House. The Management Council would also have the authority to constitute other committees as required. The report calls for a comprehensive code of conduct, enforced by an ethics committee. On situating Parliament and the Senate under one roof, the report calls the present situation inefficient and costly, and calls for putting the two together as a matter of urgency. The lower house of Bermuda's Parliament, The House of Assembly sits in the Sessions House on Parliament Hill while the upper chamber, The Senate, sits in the Cabinet Building, a short distance away on Front Street.

March 6. Government spent $40,000 on a UK legal advisor for drafting gaming regulations and paid $45,000 to local law firm MJM for the drawing up legislation for the new Tourism Authority. But Attorney General Mark Pettingill defended the contracts as well worth it, telling the House of Assembly hed saved $1 million across Government last year on outsourcing and hiring of counsel. "Sometimes you have to go out and get it," Mr Pettingill told Opposition MPs questioning the budget for Legal Affairs. "Sometimes you've got to get things done in the window of time as it relates to legislation." Shadow AG Kim Wilson questioned why the Ministry had paid UK barrister Christopher Gillespie, a criminal lawyer at the London firm 2 Hare Court, $40,000 for his help when his website didn't mention gaming. Mr Pettingill defended Mr Gillespie as experienced in gaming regulations, telling the House that the Bermuda legal team had needed assistance in that area and said the payout to MJM for professional services was not a startling number. Mr Pettingill claimed he'd implemented a 50 percent reduction in Government's legal fees by putting brakes on the ability of Ministries or Departments to go off and hire any lawyer. The AG also defended going overseas to fill a position in the Legal Aid Department, saying that the post had been advertised locally but candidates hadnt had the necessary qualification of five years court experience. "We had to go outside and outsource it. It's as simple as that."

March 7. American International Group (AIG) has launched a new Bermuda-domiciled subsidiary in response to strong demand for alternative risk financing programmes, particularly from small and medium-sized companies. Grand Isle SAC Ltd will offer customers the option of establishing segregated accounts in an AIG-sponsored captive. Customers gain access to the captives established capital, insurance licence, and underwriting capabilities to retain and manage their risk, without the costs of starting and operating their own stand-alone captives.  Segregated account companies have been used across all industry segments for a range of coverages, from general and professional liability to employee benefits and cyber risk. A segregated accounts company is considered an option for a company looking to share risk in order to achieve cost savings and flexibility in its insurance programme. AIG Captive Management Services in Bermuda manages the regulatory requirements, financial reporting, and administrative functions for all customers participating in Grand Isle. "Grand Isle furthers AIG's active participation and involvement in Bermudas captive insurance market," said Bob Gagliardi, head of AIG's worldwide captive management operations. "We see Grand Isle strengthening AIG's commitment to our captive clients and to one of the most important captive markets in the world."

March 7. The former Pink Beach Club on South Shore Road has been sold to Sardis Developments Ltd, it was confirmed today. Wakefield Quin Ltd, acting on behalf of the company, said Sardis intends to redevelop the site in conjunction with the projects financiers, The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd, by constructing a new boutique hotel on the property. Back in December, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said the Bank was in the advanced stages of negotiation. The beach-front cottage colony had been placed in receivership in 2010. Last July, Government passed $5.6 million in tax concessions to support the sale of the property to PBC Holding Ltd for $12.5 million. The company had said it planned to convert the Smiths property into a five-star resort with more than 200 employees by the end of 2015. A statement released today read: "The owners of Sardis, would like to thank both the Bank and the receivers of the property for their professionalism and unwavering assistance in bringing the project to fruition. They would also like to give credit to the Bermuda Government, in particular the members of Economic Development Committee and the staff at the Registrar of Companies for their efficiency and support of the project under pressing time constraints; service which has served to underline their faith in the Island's potential. Michael Collins, Butterfields Senior Executive Vice-President said: "In Sardis, we are pleased to have found a buyer for Pink Beach who is committed to redeveloping the property into a world class boutique hotel, which will attract new interest among vacationers and help reinvigorate the Island's tourism product. We look forward to continuing to work with Sardis to support the redevelopment of the property in our capacity as lender. Today's announcement underscores Butterfield's commitment to financing viable tourism development projects in Bermuda that will have a positive impact on employment within our community. We anticipate that demolition and construction work at the Pink Beach property will generate a large number of construction jobs in the near term, as well as permanent tourism positions at the hotel when it reopens." 

March 7. A rift between Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union has been healed following crisis talks between the two parties. At a joint press conference this afternoon, Labour and Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy and BIU President Chris Furbert said the two groups were now working in the spirit of collaboration to address concerns after a meeting between the Cabinet and BIU officials yesterday. Senator Fahy revealed that Government has agreed to postpone pushing through controversial legislation that would outlaw wildcat strike action by public transport staff, although he said the Labour Relations Amendment Act would remain on the Order Paper for debate at a future date.

March 7. Belco has put forward a change to its facilities charge that would cut electricity bills for nearly half of its residential customers but more than one in four households would end up paying more. Those who consume the least electricity will benefit through a reduction in the facilities charge currently fixed at $33 per month for all customers while the largest consumers will see the charge rise to as much as $75 per month. Meanwhile, Walter Higgins, CEO of Ascendant Group, parent company of Belco, told The Royal Gazette a massive infrastructure project that would convert Bermuda's electricity generation system from using diesel fuel to natural gas would be presented to his company's board within a month. The work, which would cost in the region of $200 million, would enable Belco a subsidiary of Ascendant to use a fuel that is cheaper and cleaner than the diesel oil it currently burns and to lower electricity rates by an estimated 15 percent. Mr Higgins said investors were interested and the project to build a new terminal and pipeline, and to convert generators to burn natural gas would involve two to three years work from the point of gaining all necessary approvals. Belco said yesterday its proposal for a Graduated Facilities Charge based on electricity usage had been sent to the Energy Commission for consideration. The company stated: "The proposal is in response to the call to assist lower-income customers who struggle to meet monthly bills, during these difficult economic times. Those who use between zero and 15 kilowatt hours (kWh) per day around 44 percent of Belco's residential customers could expect to save between five and 21 percent from their overall bill, according to the company. However, the 28 percent of customers who use 25 kWh per day or more can expect to see their bills increase by nearly four percent, while the remaining 28 percent of customers will see no change to the charge. The facilities charge will be calculated according to the customers electricity consumption over the previous 12 months. This will be reassessed monthly, giving consumers the opportunity to fall into a lower bracket for the charge if they use less electricity. Mr Higgins said the proposal meant those who made greatest use of the system would pay more. He added that the burden added to larger, wealthier consumers, would be outweighed by the burden removed from the shoulders of low or fixed-income customers who tended to use the least electricity. Belco received sharp criticism from Finance Minister Bob Richards in his Budget statement last month, when he said claimed the company's inefficiency is eroding Bermudas competitive position and the high cost of electricity was a great burden for the Bermudian people whose buying power is reduced due to the high cost of just keeping the lights on. But yesterday, Belco's move was welcomed by Education and Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons whose department has been in talks with Belco on pricing issues. "We believe that if approved, this proposal will provide some helpful cost relief for those residential customers who are low users of electricity and who tend to be seniors, as well as families and individuals in the lower income brackets. It would be premature to comment further because it is the Energy Commission who must consider and rule on the submission by Belco. The goal is to lower the cost of energy for all individuals, businesses and organisations while maintaining the reliability that we have come to expect in our energy supply."

How Belco's proposed Graduated Facilities Charge would impact customers divided by electricity usage levels:

Tier 1: 0-10 kWh per day facilities charge goes from $33 to $15 21.1 percent reduction in overall bill (26% of customers)

Tier 2: 10-15 kWh per day $33 to $25 5 percent reduction (18 percent)

Tier 3: 15-25 kWh per day $33 Unchanged NO CHANGE (28 percent)

Tier 4: 25-50 kWh per day $33 to $49.50 3.8 percent increase (22 percent)

Tier 5: 50+ kWh per day $33 to $75 3.9 percent increase (six percent).

March 8 Bermuda's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will now remain entirely in Bermuda's hands. The EEZ will be removed from an international declaration that would have placed its stewardship in the hands of a multi-nation Sargasso Sea Commission. Premier Craig Cannonier made the decision yesterday, when he made it very clear that the best interests of Bermuda and her people must be paramount at all times, and no risk of impediment to complete control of our EEZ would be accepted. The Premier along with Environment Minister Trevor Moniz met with members of the Bermuda Exclusive Economic Zone Stakeholders Caucus yesterday, who objected to the Hamilton Declaration provision for the handover of stewardship, and had presented an alternative plan for the 175,000 square miles of open ocean to the Sustainable Development Department in January. The group said they were spurred to action and comment on several aspects of the Declaration after the text of the Hamilton Declaration was released just last week, with signatories due to execute the document in less than two weeks on March 11. The Declaration covered: the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial sea around Bermuda, (excluding the shallow water habitats associated with the Bermuda platform at the base of the Bermuda Rise) ... and agreed to set up The Sargasso Sea Commission which is to exercise a stewardship role for the Sargasso Sea and keep its health, productivity and resilience under continual review. 

March 8.  "Bermuda's healthcare system needs to change its focus and cut its costs," Health Minister Trevor Moniz has told healthcare professionals. Mr Moniz said: "Despite Bermuda's small size, our health system is incredibly complex, fragmented and, at times, difficult for patients and healthcare providers to navigate. But we are too small to afford or justify the fragmentation in our system. This year's Budget has been an extraordinarily difficult one. Given the state of Government finances and the fiscal space were constrained by, we had to make some very tough decisions. Cuts had had a knock on effect on the standard hospital benefit, its coverage and premium. But in my view this must be seen as a temporary fix while we find longer-term solutions to our systemic challenges." Mr Moniz was speaking to an audience of more that 100 healthcare professionals at a recent summit on healthcare for doctors, held at the Southampton Princess. He told delegates that Bermuda had to change its approach to chronic non-communicable disease and concentrate on management and prevention outside the hospital system. He added: "We're stuck in a 1970s model built around acute care but 21st century population health needs and medical knowledge demand that we place much more focus on primary care, health maintenance and primary and secondary prevention. This requires reforming our basic health package. 2012 spending figures showed the Island spent $678 million on health $10,562 per person, which made Bermudas health system the second most expensive in the world. The Island had to right-size the new hospital, due to open later this year, and that the smaller emergency department would need to be used appropriately. The health system would need to change to ensure those in need of continuing care and alternative levels of care had options outside the hospital. We have to ensure that the healthcare dollars we do spend on hospitalization are spent locally wherever possible and that healthcare providers and the public have confidence in local services so that overseas transfers are focused on cases that need care which is genuinely not available here."

March 8. A Bermudian exhibit detailing the connection between Bermuda and famed author Mark Twain has been highlighted by London's The Times newspaper. In an article published on March 1, journalist Simon de Bruxelles wrote about Mr Twains relationship with the Island in light of the recent discovery of a previously unpublished poem and other writings. Mr de Bruxelles also noted the current Masterworks Museum exhibit Ever the Twain Shall Meet, which was organized in collaboration with the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. The exhibit, open now, hosts a raft of items connected to Mr Twain's time on the Island including photographs of the writer in Bermuda, first edition copies of The Innocents Abroad and Mark Twain and The Happy Island, several letters written by the author and some of Mr Twain's personal items, including a pen and a white shirt that was part of Mr Twains iconic white suit ensemble. 

March 10. The dead bodies of a married couple were found at a home next to St George’s Cricket Club today. The man and woman were aged 49 and 48, respectively, according to Acting Superintendent Nicholas Pedro, who said the couple were found at 2.25pm. He added that they appeared to be suffering from injuries that caused their deaths but gave no further details. 

March 18.  Hazardous waste from the Hamilton Seabright sewage pipeline has been contaminating the waters off South Shore beaches, according to a 2013 water-quality study but only during rare, sustained weather patterns. The final report of the study, a copy of which was obtained by The Royal Gazette, measured human bacteria counts climbing as high as double, triple, and quadruple the American standard for contamination levels during strong easterly winds, tide and swell. Conducted in collaboration with researchers from Universite Laval, Quebec, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) and Government scientists, the study lists five central South shore beaches as unfit for recreational use based on the water samples. While a source close to the study admitted the levels of contamination measured should not be mitigated, they said the dynamic environment of the South shore waters means contamination lasts no more than ten hours at a maximum, during which time residents are unlikely to be swimming. But, windsurfers and kite surfers could be at risk. At its peak, the Seabright outfall dumps between half a million to a million gallons of untreated municipal sewage from the City of Hamilton including waste from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital into waters less than half a mile away from a string of South shore beaches. While extensive water-quality research shows the environmental impact of the Seabright outfall is negligible during normal conditions, evidence of sewage washing up on nearby beaches in 2013 prompted further analysis of the outfalls effects during rare weather conditions. According to the study: Water quality on the beaches close to the sewage outfall can rapidly degrade, most likely due to rapidly changing climatic conditions including wind, swell, tides, and rain, posing implications in health, environmental, and tourism sectors. 

March 18. Businesses owned by non-Bermudians will be able to buy up residential and commercial properties under new Government proposals. But Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons cautioned that, because land is a scarce commodity, restrictions limiting the capacity of companies to acquire land will be in place. At a press conference earlier, Dr Gibbons explained that the laws relating to land purchase had become confused and inconsistent in recent years and that the amendments which are expected to be debated in the House of Assembly on Friday will for the first time, a clear and transparent written policy on corporate landholding in an otherwise cloudy area of law and practice. The Companies Amendment Act 2014 was tabled earlier this month while the Corporate Landholding Policy was tabled yesterday. The policy states: "The holding of land by corporate entities became a restricted business practice under the Companies Act. This policy is to provide guidance for the Minister in making the decision as to whether to provide consent for a business entity to acquire and/or hold land.

March 24. Bermuda-based Wilton Re said on Friday it had agreed to be sold to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in a deal worth $1.8 billion. The life reinsurance company focuses principally on the US life reinsurance market, specializing in the acquisition of in-force life insurance and annuities. As of September 30 2013, Wilton Re has $8.5 billion in total assets, $1.5 billion of equity and $120 billion of insurance in force. The reinsurer is being acquired from investors including Stone Point Capital, Kelso & Co and Vestar Capital Partners Inc, the Toronto-based fund manager said. The purchase is Canada Pension's first direct investment in the insurance sector. In a statement, Canada Pension said it is committed to the management, employees and organization of Wilton Re, and will support management in the future growth of the company. The company's Bermuda office is on Par-La-Ville Road, Hamilton, and the Wilton Re Bermuda CEO is Sylvia Oliveira, formerly the chief actuary of Ace Tempest Life Reinsurance. The transaction involves the 100 percent stock acquisition of Wilton Re Holding Ltd, a Bermuda insurance holding company and all subsidiaries within the Wilton Re Group, including Wilton Reinsurance Bermuda Ltd, Wilton Reassurance Company, Wilton Reassurance Life Company of New York, and Texas Life Insurance Company. This is Canada Pension's largest public acquisition since it led a consortium to purchase Neiman Marcus Group Ltd last year. Canada Pension describes itself as a professional investment management organization that invests the funds not needed by the Canada Pension Plan to pay current benefits on behalf of 18 million Canadian contributors and beneficiaries, manages a C$201.5 billion ($179 billion) as of the end of last year. The transaction is expected to close prior to August 2014 and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

March 28. Brand-new Bermuda reinsurer Watford Re is all set to open for business. The multi-line reinsurer’s parent company Watford Holdings said in a statement released yesterday that the company had “raised capital and expects to commence reinsurance operations shortly.” Rating agency AM Best announced that it had assigned an A- (excellent) financial strength rating to the start-up. Watford Re is led by chief executive officer John Rathgeber, a 30-year reinsurance industry veteran, who was most recently the vice-chairman of Arch Worldwide Reinsurance Group. Watford Re is licensed as a Class 4 reinsurer by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. The company is the product of a joint venture between Bermuda Class of 2001 re/insurer Arch Capital and hedge fund firm Highpoint. It reflects the trend in the Bermuda reinsurance market of increasing convergence between the capital markets and the reinsurance industry. A subsidiary of Arch will do the underwriting, while HPS — a subsidiary of Highbridge Capital Management, which has around $19 billion of assets under management — will manage the investments. Media reports suggest that Watford Re has initial capital of some $500 million. In its commentary, AM Best notes the “elevated risk profile” of Watford Re’s business model, but the agency indicates that it believes those managing the risks are good at what they do. "AM Best believes that underwriting risk coupled with the leveraged investment strategy creates an elevated risk profile that could expose Watford on both the asset and liability sides of the balance sheet. However, the skilled underwriting of Arch Capital Group Ltd and the experienced investment acumen of Highbridge Principal Strategies, LLC (HPS), along with cash flows produced by Watford’s credit investment strategy, will help manages these risks.” Money has poured into the reinsurance space as instruments such as catastrophe bonds and other insurance-linked securities have attracted third-party capital, at the same time as a relative lack of catastrophic events last year, have added to the downward pressure on reinsurance pricing. AM Best said it “anticipates that Watford’s management will be challenged by competition from established reinsurers as well as other start-up entities and alternative capital. The addition of more capacity to an already overcapitalized reinsurance marketplace could pressure underwriting margins.”

March 29.  British Airways will resume its daily service from Bermuda to London’s Gatwick Airport on Sunday, the airline said yesterday. BA’s Bermuda manager Marianne Wilcox said: “We are delighted to once again commence a daily service to and from London every day of the week until the end of October.” She said BA 2233 would leave London Gatwick at the slightly later time of 3.10pm arriving in Bermuda at 6.30pm. BA 2232 leaves Bermuda each evening at 8.15pm arriving in London at 6.55am the next day. Travellers flying from Bermuda will be able to connect via London to some different European locations this summer, Ms Wilcox added. “From Gatwick there will be a daily flight to Malta. From Heathrow the routes to be added are Porto, Malaga, Faro, Mykonos and Santorini.”

March 29. Hotels are reporting increased bookings, compared to those last year, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA). But air arrivals have seen a slight decline. BTA CEO Bill Hanbury said several figures being measured by the authority, including the hotel revenue metrics and visitor satisfaction, are encouraging, but he warned that much more work must be done to turn the industry around. "While these figures show movement in the right direction, we still have a long way to go regarding meaningful growth in the industry," Mr Hanbury said. "Visitor expenditure, for example, has dropped and, as the BTA moves into full gear, we will be looking at strategies to improve our product and the visitor experience in order to improve on these numbers." According to figures released today by the BTA, total hotel room bookings are up 6.8 percent for the next six months compared with last year and up 12.2 percent for the next year. Group booking are up 8.2 percent for the next six months and 19.8 percent for the year, while individual room bookings are up 5.9 percent for next six months and 7.5 percent for the year. Hotel occupancy was up 7.7 percent in January and 1.1 percent in February, while year-to-date occupancy has increased by 4.3 percent. But despite the increases in hotel bookings and occupancy, year-to-date air arrivals have fallen slightly. A total of 7,046 visitors flew to the Island in January and 8,910 in February, marking a 0.2 percent decrease. And while air capacity increased by 2.1 percent through February compared to last year, the percentage of seats filled dropped. The figures also revealed that visitor expenditure and the average length of stay for visitors dropped between 2012 and 2013. Visitors who arrived by air stayed for an average of 5.4 nights in 2012, spending between $1,079 and $1,342 each, but last year the average duration of stay dropped slightly to 5.3 nights and spending fell to between $977 and $1,337. Cruise ship visitor spending also fell from between $119 and $203 per person in 2012 to between $112 and $124 in 2013. However, visitor satisfaction increased between 2012 and 2013, rising from 86.8 percent to 87.9 percent for air visitors and from 86.6 percent to 87 percent for cruise ship passengers. A BTA spokeswoman said the authority was reviewing a broad cross-section of data, stating that no single metric fully represents the condition of the Islands tourism sector. Only after viewing the full set of data, can we know the true status of the industry and understand how to achieve the stated goals of the BTA which includes increasing tourisms contribution to the Bermuda economy, increasing jobs and job duration in the industry and helping our hotels towards a sustainable and profitable model, the spokeswoman said.

March 29. Plans to raze the Pink Beach Club and erect a new boutique hotel and condominiums have been submitted for in principle planning approval. The $51.5 million development is set to include a 34-room hotel with two restaurants, six guest condominiums, two guest suites gym and spa facilities, a new beach club, two swimming pools and a residential building. The Pink Beach Club on South Shore Road, Smiths, was first opened in 1947 but harsh economic conditions and a declining number of visitors forced the club into receivership in 2010. But earlier this year, it was announced that Canada-based Sardis Development Ltd had purchased the property and were committed to redevelop the site into a world class tourism destination. The developer recently submitted applications to the Planning Department, one seeking final planning approval for civil works on the site and a second seeking in principle approval for the project. An environmental impact assessment and statement (EIS) included in the application stated that almost all of the buildings currently on the site are to be demolished with new buildings being erected largely in their footprints. A section of the EIS reads: "Following the demolition of almost all existing buildings on the entire site, the western lot will be dedicated to a 34-suite five star boutique hotel with a high quality gourmet restaurant and beach grill, fresh and salt water pools and access to the western beach and tennis courts. 

March 31. The US Consulate has warned Americans that the Islands beaches could be a health hazard due to sewage contamination. And it said that any US tourists planning to swim off the south shore should consider immunizations for Hepatitis A and typhoid. The advisory, published on the Consulate website, said that sewage contamination along the south shore could reach four times the acceptable US standard at times. The shock warning published today said a scientific study carried out last year showed pumping untreated sewage out to sea causes intermittent contamination of the waters off the south shore, creating a public health hazard. The Consulate advisory added: "Changing weather conditions winds, swells, tides and rain can bring rapid degradation of water quality along the beaches, resulting in human bacteria levels from fecal contamination up to four times the acceptable US standard. In 2013, as many as five of the beaches were described as unfit for recreational use on different occasions based on water samples. Swimmers could be hit by gastroenteritis, ear infections, respiratory illnesses and other infections. In addition, as a general medical matter, persons exposed to sewage-contaminated water face increased risk of Hepatitis A, eye infections and typhoid. The Government of Bermuda has announced that it plans to take measures to reduce or treat the outfall, but as of March 2014, the dumping continues unabated." The advisory was based on a study carried out by experts from the University of Laval in Canada and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS). Government Departments of Health, Environment and the Bermuda Central Government Laboratory were also involved in the study. See earlier March 24 story, above. 

March 31. The art and antiques collection of David White, former Editor of The Royal Gazette, is to go under the hammer this week. And Andrea Casling, of auctioneers Hammers, which is handling the sale of Mr Whites estate, said: "This is a major event, it's what we term in the antiques business an important sale. It is hugely important and his collection is exquisite. This is one of the most significant estates I have ever handled." Mr White, who died last year, had already turned over nearly 50 paintings from his massive art collection to the Bermuda National Gallery. But Ms Casling said he had kept several works, many of Bermuda scenes, often by significant artists who painted in the American Impressionist style. The collection includes a painting by Prosper Senat of what is now Harbour Road, Paget, and one by Frank Waller of the Natural Arch, known as the Natural Arches in Bermuda, near the Mid Ocean Club. The landmark was destroyed by Hurricane Fabian in 2003. Another painting, by William Chadwick, shows Hamilton Harbour from the Paget shore, featuring the old Hamilton Hotel and an early cruise ship docked in the harbour. The collection, which will be auctioned off over three days, also includes bronze statues, silver, Bermuda cedar and other furniture, antique carpets, antique maps, crystal and china. Cedar items include a dining table and chairs, tea tables, a chest and a corner chair.

March 31. Bermuda's tax system will tomorrow come under the spotlight again when US construction equipment giant Caterpillar faces a US Senate hearing. The world's biggest earthmoving and mining equipment maker is to be probed over its offshore tax arrangements which saw $1.5 billion moved to subsidiaries in Bermuda, and Luxembourg. A total of three current and former Caterpillar executives are expected to testify at the Permanent Sub-committee on investigations, headed by Senator Carl Levein. The hearing is expected to look at Caterpillar's tax arrangements and corporate restructuring from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Three staff from global financial services firm PwC, which advised Caterpillar on its tax strategies, are also expected to appear as witnesses. Richard Harvey, a former Internal Revenue Service official who reviewed court records of a lawsuit involving the restructurings that was settled in 2012, said the court case may point to the focus of the committees questions. Mr Harvey, now a tax professor at the Villanova University, said: "One would hope the IRS took a very close look at these transactions. " Caterpillar moved a replacement parts division to Switzerland in 1999 and the firms records showed one reason was to reduce tax payments. And in 2005, other company units were set up in Bermuda and Luxembourg. Caterpillar chief tax officer Robin Beran, one of the firms officials called before the Senate subcommittee, said in a memo dated in November 2006: "Two internal reorganizations were completed, leveraging the Bermuda/Lux structure, allowing repatriation of nearly $1.5 billion cash to the US without incremental US tax." Caterpillar refused to comment on the firm's tax arrangements and PwC also declined to comment. Former Caterpillar tax official Daniel Schlicksup sued the company in 2009, claiming he had suffered retaliation from executives after he raised concerns within the firm about its tax dealings. Mr Schlicksup said Caterpillars offshore tax arrangements helped it avoid more than $2 billion in US taxes.

April

April 2. The former Pink Beach Club on South Shore Road has been sold to Sardis Developments Ltd, it was confirmed today. Wakefield Quin Ltd, acting on behalf of the company, said Sardis intends to redevelop the site in conjunction with the projects financiers, The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd, by constructing a new boutique hotel on the property. Back in December, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said the Bank was in the advanced stages of negotiation. The beach-front cottage colony had been placed in receivership in 2010. Last July, Government passed $5.6 million in tax concessions to support the sale of the property to PBC Holding Ltd for $12.5 million. The company had said it planned to convert the Smiths property into a five-star resort with more than 200 employees by the end of 2015.

April 3. Cell phone users will see a few extra cents added to their bills because of an increase in the Government licence fee for a mobile line. Wireless services provider Digicel alerted its customers to the increase, which will see the fee rise from $7 to $7.35, effective April 1, 2014. This official five percent increase from Government was gazetted on Friday, March 28, 2014. The company said its post-paid customers would see the licence fee increase to $7.35 on their April bills. Prepaid customers will see a $0.24 deduction from their daily balances, increasing from the current $0.23 daily deduction. Digicel Bermuda CEO Wayne Caines said: "It's very important to us that our customers know exactly what is happening and where these fees are going, which is back into our Government."

April 3. Tourist arrivals and hotel bookings were both boosted in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the Department of Statistics. The Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics, released yesterday by the Department, reported a 6.3 percent increase in air arrivals and 35.4 percent increase in cruise ship arrivals year-on-year in the fourth quarter. Between October and December a total of 94,708 visitors arrived on the Island, 47,211 by air and 47,497 by cruise ship. Only 79,474 visitors travelled to Bermuda during the same period in 2012. As a result of the increase of arrivals, it was estimated that the Island recorded an additional $3.5 million in visitor spending during the quarter from air arrivals and an additional $2.7 million from cruise ship visitors. More than two thirds of the air arrivals 32,197 came from the United States, an increase of around seven percent from the same period in 2012. Hotels, cottage colonies and other tourist accommodations all saw increased bookings during the period, with hotel gross receipts for the period totalled $51.2 million. In total, air arrivals for 2013 were 1.8 percent higher than the previous year and, while resort hotel occupancy fell by 0.4 percent, occupancy rates on all other types of tourist properties increased year-on-year. The figures come less than a week after the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) reported improved year-on-year hotel bookings and hotel occupancy during the first two months of 2014 although it also noted that air arrivals had slipped during the period by 0.2 percent. Premier Craig Cannonier said yesterday he was optimistic about the fourth quarter tourism statistics, noting the increase in air arrivals and hotel bookings. "I'm very encouraged to see these signs of optimism from our visitors. I applaud the hard work of the Minister of Tourism Shawn Crockwell and the Department of Tourism, especially during that time frame. We've still got a long road ahead of us, but I believe the country should also see these figures as positive indicators of our efforts to move the in the right direction." The Quarterly Statistics also noted a $1.6 million increase in retail spending during the quarter, and a 7.5 percent decrease in overseas declarations. Overall, residents spent a total of $60.5 million on overseas purchases in 2013, which represented a 6.8 percent dip in expenditure when compared to the $64.9 million spent in 2012.

April 3. Ocean Wilsons, a Bermuda-based holding company listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) which runs shipping and port services in Brazil saw its 2013 operating profit soar by 40 percent to $119 million. That number is a tenth higher than forecasts, and broker Cantor Fitzgerald is penciling in double-digit earnings growth for both this year and next, according to Investors Chronicle in an April 1 article. And the company's preliminary results announcement filed with the BSX stated that sales were up eight percent to $660.1 million, compared to $610.4 million in 2012. Investors Chronicle also reported that cuts in payroll tax slashed Oceans social security bill by $11 million, and the sale of commercial property in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo chipped in $10 million in 2013. It stated: "Yet, even after a $19 million foreign exchange hit and a doubling of finance costs driven by overseas currency loans, pre-tax profit still edged up two percent to $101 million." Wilson Sons, Oceans maritime unit (the shipyard, terminals and towage operation), generated much of that more than $86 million. "Extra capacity drove shipyard revenue up 61 percent to over $100 million, and demand for new vessels from the offshore oil and gas industry remains robust," says management. It made the rest of its money playing the global bond and equity markets, initially funded by the $205 million received when Ocean floated 42 percent of the business in Brazil seven years ago. Oceans investment portfolio returned almost eight percent year-on-year. In their BSX filing, the company states as their objective that it is run on a long-term basis. This applies to both the investment portfolio and our investment in Wilson Sons. The long-term view taken by the board allows Wilson Sons to grow and develop its businesses without being pressured to produce short-term results at the expense of long-term value creation. The same long-term view allows our investment managers to make investment decisions that create long-term capital growth. The success of this strategy is reflected in the growth in the Ocean Wilsons share price and total returns to shareholders. In the ten years to 31 December 2013 the share price has risen 585 percent from 152p to 1,042p and total returns to shareholders in the period (assuming dividends are reinvested in Ocean Wilsons shares) of 806 percent.

April 14. Agar’s Island, which was the home of one of the world’s leaders in computer science Dr James Martin, is on the market, according to Private Islands Online. It is called Gunpowder Island in the publication, and in a related article in the online The Daily Telegraph, it is described as a “lovely Caribbean island.” The British newspaper article states, under the headline “10 unusual islands for sale” - “This lovely Caribbean island owes its slightly alarming name to the fact it was used as a secret storehouse for military explosives in the 19th century. Today, it’s a rather more tranquil place offering a vast array of accommodation (including a former military barracks).” British-born Dr Martin, who died while in Bermuda last June, established several IT consultancy firms and co-founded Database Design Inc. (DDI), which developed the information engineering software that became the market leader in the sector. Computerworld’s 25th anniversary issue ranked him fourth among the 25 individuals who have most influenced the world of computer science. Dr Martin lived on Gunpowder Island, also known as Agar’s Island from the 1990s. Private Island Online, a Canadian website, described the island, in “the azure waters of Great Sound, Bermuda ... (as a) 7.5-acre property that once served as secret chambers for military explosives in the late 19th century. “Rich with history, the Bermudan (sic) island now features an 8427-sq. ft. main residence, a 3-bedroom deckhouse, a 2060-sq. ft. cottage, a boathouse, and a former military barracks that can double as a conference centre. There is also a three-bedroom dock house, a 2,060-square-foot one-bedroom cottage, a boathouse, and a former military barracks that can double as a conference centre. The historic semi-underground vaults are fitted with a kitchenette, bathroom, billiards/ table-tennis room, gym, cinema, and dining for up to 40 people. “A Japanese garden, Chinese garden, Italian garden, rose garden, an orchard, a cliff walk, a quarry, a waterfall, seven ponds (some fresh water), and a pool dot the island. There are two beaches and three docks, and the island has full electricity, water supply, and services. It is easy to reach from the mainland.” It states that price is available on request. The publication also lists Perot’s Island in Riddell’s Bay for sale at $15 million.

April 10. Iconic entertainer, pianist and poet Alvin (Hambone) Brangman a luminary of the Islands hotel circuit from the heyday of local music has died aged 90. Mr Brangman, who performed throughout the calypso era and remained devoted to music up until his passing on March 25, will be laid to rest at a service today in Hamilton's Wesley Methodist Church. 

April 10.  Bermudian culture is the key to resurrecting the Islands tourism industry, according to Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury. Addressing an audience at the Bermuda College last night, Mr Hanbury said that work is being done to improve the marketing and branding of the Island, noting that a new PR firm has recently been selected and will be announced shortly. However, he stressed that work must be done to improve Bermuda as a tourism product, saying that a focus needs to be placed on providing visitors with the unique Bermudian cultural experience. "The modern tourism consumer today across the globe wants true experiences," he said. "It's great to have wonderful golf courses and these other wonderful amenities that we have, but if you can't give the consumer an experience where they can touch, they can feel, they can see, they can sense what this destination is all about, they are going somewhere else. Bermuda has all the right elements, including its own art, culture, cuisine and famous hospitality, but the Island can do a better job in connecting the dots for visitors, making sure they know where to go to get the experience they are looking for and how to get there. Those assets are out there, but they're not easy to get to. I'm convinced that it's one of the keys to success for the Island is to connect these dots. We have to have great public transportation systems. It's something that we just have to work on. I know there has been a lot of controversy, a lot of conversation around transportation and whether it's an essential service. For me, all I'm doing is listening to the market, and the market has already spoken on that subject. You must have a predictable, a reliable and an efficient public transit system or we're not coming."

April 15. The parents of a baby girl who doctors believe was made seriously ill by contaminated water are urging Government to rigorously enforce regulations that require all household tanks to be cleaned every six years. The American couple, whose two-year-old daughter is still recovering after contracting a rare lymph node infection in 2012, claim the Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951 are not enforced in any way by the Department of Health, despite the risk to human health from dirty tank water. They told The Royal Gazette they fear most landlords are not t aware of the legal requirement to regularly clean tanks and that unsuspecting tenants could be exposing themselves, their children and their pets to dangerous drinking and bathing water. The couple's daughter had to have an MRI scan and a three-hour operation under general anesthetic to have an infected lymph node the size of a golf ball removed from her neck a month before her first birthday. The infant also had to take medication which could damage her eyesight in the long-term. The couple, who asked not to be named, say their child never drank tap water at the three-bed roomed property they rented for $4,400 a month in Smith's, but they believe she was exposed to the disease-causing bacterium kansasii in her bath water and from having her teeth brushed. 

April 16. TBi (TeleBermuda International) is offering unlimited local calls to mobile and fixed numbers via a phone that works through the internet as part of an internet and phone bundle. Today's announcement marks the latest salvo in the battle for market share since deregulation of the telecommunications industry lifted restrictions and allowed companies to bundle various services. "Unlimited local calling is an exciting new offering from TBi that helps people stay connected without the inconvenience of watching minutes," said Gregory Swan, TBi's president and chief operating officer. "Customers who sign up for the service will receive a local number and a free VOIP (Voice over internet Protocol) phone, available for a limited time. Customers simply plug the phone into their modem and can start to make and receive unlimited local calls. More people than ever are looking for alternative ways to stay connected while minimizing their overall cost for telephony services. We have carefully studied the market and listened to our customers. The mindset that keeps ringing in our ears is "quality services competitively priced". Our new service is in response to that premise," stated Mr Swan. As an initial rollout, TBi is introducing unlimited local calling as part of a new residential bundled package designed to provide a more affordable voice and data services solution. TBi's new bundle combines 10 megabit internet, unlimited local calling, unlimited calling to the USA and Canada and Wi-Fi ZONE hot spot access for $89.95 per month and the first month free.

April 16. US investment advisory company FRMO Corporation has bought a 37.5 percent stake in the Bermuda Stock Exchange. The Elmsford, New York-based company becomes the biggest shareholder in the BSX and its chairman Murray Stahl will be joining the BSX board of directors, the BSX said in a statement released today. Mr Stahl is also chairman of Horizon Asset Management LLC, a registered investment adviser. A private-equity fund managed by Horizon Asset Management invested in the BSX in 2008 and currently holds 2.21 percent of the BSX?s shares. This investment brings FRMO and affiliates commitment to the BSX to nearly 40 percent. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. FRMO Corp had shareholders? equity of $83.4 million as of May 31, 2013, according to its most recently published financial statements. In its profile on the Yahoo Finance website, the company is described as an investment advisory and independent research company, which provides in-depth analysis of information-poor, under-researched companies, and strategies to identify the complex situations primarily for institutional investors. Among other major BSX shareholders is the TMX Group, operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, which bought a 16 percent stake in late 2011. Capital G Bank and LOM Group are among the numerous other shareholders. 

April 17.  Landlords and other property owners who break the law by failing to regularly clean water tanks are escaping prosecution, despite concerns about the risk to public health posed by Bermudas rainwater catchments system. Government admitted yesterday that no one has ever been prosecuted for not cleaning a tank under the Public Health (Water Storage) Regulations 1951, even though the law requires tanks to be cleaned every six years and allows for suspected offenders to be taken to court and fined if convicted. Public health officers have the power to order a tank to be cleaned but the Department of Health said when water is tested and found to be unsuitable for drinking, it gives only verbal or written advice to the property owner to clean then chlorinate, if the tank hasn't been cleaned for more than six years or looks dirty. A spokeswoman said: "When cleaning and chlorination is completed, then a sample may be resubmitted for retesting. In the past, we have not had to use a formal notice to achieve this result." Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) insisted last night that better enforcement of the law was needed if the Island was to continue relying on its traditional roof catchments system for the majority of its freshwater supply.

April 17. The Grand Atlantic housing complex is to be transformed into a condominium hotel complex. Announcing the move at a press conference, Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a tourism and leisure firm to upgrade and reposition the residential development. The proposed redevelopment of the Grand Atlantic site will create a condo hotel which will make use of existing construction and bring a new all-suite tourism product to Bermuda that is very popular in other jurisdictions, Ms Gordon-Pamplin said. This will be a welcome addition to Bermudas current hotel inventory and a completely unique product for our market. The complex, on South Shore, Warwick, was conceived by the former Government as an affordable housing project. But it was branded a white elephant after just two of 78 units were sold. One of those families has now moved to alternative accommodation, while the second owner is in negotiations with Government to find alternative accommodation. According to Ms Gordon-Pamplin, a condo hotel is defined as a development which is legally a condominium but which is operated as a resort, offering short-term rentals of hotel suites with a front desk and resort leisure facilities. It is anticipated that the units at Grand Atlantic will be sold as a combination of investment and vacation homes, with condo owners being restricted to 90 days annual occupancy per year. When owners are not in residence, they can leverage the marketing and management provided by the hotel operator to rent and manage the condo unit as it would any other hotel room. The 120-day MOU with Caribbean-based MacLellan & Associates has an exclusivity clause which will enable MacLellan & Associates, along with local industry partner Bermudiana Beach Resort, to finance the acquisition and associated development costs of the project. It is anticipated that the site could be prepared for sale of condo hotel units within the year. Currently MacLellan & Associates are working to finalize the financing arrangements for significant design changes, incorporating resort amenities and identifying a hotel operator that is willing to partner with investors in the opportunity presented by this development for a new tourism product in Bermuda. Details of how much Government will be paid for the deal were not revealed yesterday. Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that all financial arrangement will be determined during the 120-day exclusive MOU period. However, the Minister said she was confident that this project will prove to be financially beneficial to Bermuda, adding that, with redevelopment expected to start soon, the deal would provide a welcome boost to the construction sector and also have a positive social impact. Ms Gordon-Pamplin also confirmed that the consultant had been advised of environmental concerns over the complex, which is located close to a cliff face, said by some to be rapidly eroding. Last week Opposition MP Michael Weeks questioned if the OBA was telling potential investors that the property was safe. But yesterday Ms Gordon-Pamplin insisted that the issue was not going to go away. "Once an issue has been addressed and looked at it is there in the public domain. The developer is aware of the publics concerns surrounding the cliff and its structural integrity. They've reviewed the existing engineering documentation, they have physically inspected the site and they will take additional counsel from the structural engineer during this due diligence period."

April 17. The healing power of natural light played a major role in the architectural design of King Edward VII Hospitals new Acute Care Wing. Offering an update on the construction of the Wing yesterday, a hospital spokesperson said large windows were featured throughout the building. And while that allows light into areas facing outdoors it doesn't address areas in the middle of the new facility. Yet natural light pours as readily into these areas as those on the perimeter of the building. "This is because a central atrium with skylights has been created in the middle of the facility," said the spokesperson. Bermuda Hospitals Board president and CEO Venetta Symonds added: "The design in this section of the building uplifts your spirit. I'm sure members of the public will especially appreciate having this feeling in a hospital setting." The functionality of making it a waiting area speaks to the expertise of the architectural and design team of Paget Health Services. The atrium is 2,738 square feet on the second floor. It houses a waiting area, check-in desk and discharge lounge for surgical patients. The waiting area seats 18 people while the discharge lounge seats eight. According to the spokesperson, scientific studies have proven the importance of lighting levels on mood and emotion and more recently on the body's circadian rhythms and in turn, its physiology. The Bermuda Hospitals Board is proud that the new Acute Care Wing provides both its staff and the public with healthy amounts of natural light. The Acute Care Wing will open to the public in September. Those willing to support new Wing with a donation to the Why It Matters campaign can visit www.bhct.bm for more information.

April 24. The newly-formed Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) have appointed a Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. Victoria Isley, a 20-year veteran of the tourism and hospitality industry, will work from the BTA office in New York, starting her new position in June 2. BTA CEO Bill Hanbury, a former colleague of Ms Isley during his tenure as CEO of Destination DC, said: "Vicki Isley brings an extraordinary level of marketing and sales expertise to the effort of repositioning Bermuda as one of the worlds pre-eminent tourism destinations. Her decision to join our team is another indication of Bermuda's serious intention to compete with other top-level tourism destinations in the US and across the globe." Ms Isley added: "At this point in my career, it's really exciting to be joining the newly formed Bermuda Tourism Authority. The industry leaders did their homework when establishing the new organization and have fashioned it as the next generation DMO charged with destination marketing as well as management. There is so much opportunity. There is such beauty on the Island such a genuine sense of place. I look forward to helping tell the many stories of Bermuda, connecting travelers with the island, and creating jobs an economic development for the residents." Ms Isley previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). In that role she oversaw the associations integrated executive team, which included marketing and communications efforts, membership and business development, professional development and meetings departments, as well as its convention sales products. A BTA statement noted: "Through her work, she was part of a team that managed the world's largest destination marketing trade association, representing 600 organisations worldwide. Additionally, she also served as the Executive Director of the DMAI Foundation since October, 2012. Prior to her work with DMAI, Ms Isley served as the Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for Destination DC from October, 2001 to April, 2011. Responsible for all marketing, research, crisis communications, media relations promotions, tourism sales and visitor service functions during her tenure, she was the organizational marketing lead for high profile initiatives including tourism recovery efforts following 9/11, the dedication of the National World War II Memorial and the inauguration celebration for President Barack Obama. Ms Isley also brings previous experience as the Vice-President of Marketing and Communications for the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau (July,1997-October, 2001) and Director of Communications for the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau (October, 1994-July, 1997) to her new role. A 1991 graduate of the University of North Carolina with a bachelors degree in business administration and marketing, Ms Isley has served as a past chair of the US Travel Associations research committee as well as a member of the board of directors for Public Relations Society of America's Travel and Tourism sector.

April 24. The anti-gang charity CARTEL has suffered a defeat in the Supreme Court after its lease of White's Island was declared void. Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled that the lease, which had been intended to cover a period of 21 years less one day, hadn't received Cabinet and legislative approval. CARTEL was granted the lease, effective October 1, 2010 to September 29, 20131, by former Public Works Minister Derrick Burgess. The organization, headed by Pastor Leroy Bean, took charge of the Hamilton Harbour Island for a ?peppercorn? lease of $1 rent. But the inclusion of an automatic renewal clause effectively took the lease over 21 years, meaning that it wasn't valid without approval. Although Mr Burgess argued via affidavit that the inclusion of the renewal option had been an oversight/misunderstanding, Mr Justice Kawaley in his ruling yesterday didn't accept it as a mere clerical error. In an apparent further slip, the lease named the lessee as CARTEL Charitable Purpose Trust, naming Pastor Bean as trustee along with Leyroyce Bean and Shelly Steede whereas Pastor Bean had been intended as the lessee, with the Trust managing the projects on the premises. The error meant that the purported lessee was not in fact a legal entity, and Mr Justice Kawaley accordingly ruled that CARTEL yield up vacant possession forthwith. Defence lawyer Charles Richardson asked the court to consider exercising discretion in awarding costs to the winning side, since the first defendant represents a charity. "He's in possession of a lease drafted by a Government Department which he is entitled to assume was validly granted," Mr Richardson added. The Chief Justice noted that while the defendants were required to do their own due diligence in ensuring that the contract was valid, as a practical matter, a charity negotiating with Government is most likely to rely on Government to do the right thing. "It is an extremely unfortunate situation that the defendants find themselves in," he added. The court encouraged the Minister to take public interest into account in requiring the losing side to cover legal costs. "Hopefully, these proceedings will have clarified the law, and will possibly be of assistance to those who draft Government leases in the future, to avoid such matters recurring," he said. Pastor Bean wasn't available last night, and a Public Works spokeswoman told this newspaper it was too early to comment on costs, or possible future uses for White's Island.

April 27.  Gasoline prices rose in April, up 1.6 cents a litre, the Finance Ministry announced. As a result, the maximum gasoline retail price displayed on the pumps is 213.90 cents a litre, or $2.13.90. Diesel declined 0.2 cents a litre. Its maximum price at the pump is now 187.80 cents a litre, or $1.87.80. Kerosene also declined, down 1.6 cents a litre. The maximum cost is now 158.60 cents a litre, or $1.58.60.

April 29. An application to redevelop the Pink Beach property in Smiths has been criticized over plans to limit access to the property's eastern beach. Guests of the proposed resort and residents of the neighbouring Hidden Cove property would be able to use a beach on the western side of the property, but a larger beach to the east would be reserved for a private residence to be built on the property. In a letter of objection, Dolores Beraldo-Vasquez of DBU Consulting, writing on behalf of Hidden Cove Ltd, expressed serious concerns about the proposal. She wrote that Hidden Cove does not object to the redevelopment of the property, but is worried about the future of the eastern beach. According to the application, the beach would be accessible only by residents of a large residential property to be erected on that side of the site. That residence will be part of the hotels inventory six-months of the year for the first five years of the hotels operation, after which it will become purely a private residence. Ms Beraldo-Vasquez argued that the move would not only limit access to the eastern beach, but place additional pressure on the smaller western beach which would be servicing both hotel guests and the residents of Hidden Cove. She also expressed concerns about the negative impact on Hidden Cove, noting that the plan as submitted has the hotel, the beach club and several other elements close to the western border. 

May

May 2. Bermuda-based property and casualty insurer Lancashire Holdings Ltd posted a 47 percent rise in first-quarter premiums written, helped by its purchase last year of rival Cathedral Capital Ltd (also Bermuda-incorporated). Lancashire chief executive Alex Maloney, who took the helm last week after the retirement of Richard Brindle, said the company was likely to return a substantial portion of earnings to shareholders later in the year. But shares in Lancashire, which insures oil rigs, ships and aircraft, fell as much as 3.6 percent yesterday morning amid uncertainty about how much of the company's profits would be returned to shareholders after the purchase of Cathedral. "There is a shift in the business model so it makes sense that they may not pay out a 100 percent of earnings, but I still think there are a lot of investors who bought into Lancashire expecting that kind of return," Berenberg analyst Tom Carstairs told Reuters. A spokesman for Lancashire said the insurer returned about 88.4 percent of earnings to shareholders last year. Lancashire acquired Cathedral, which insures property, satellites and marine cargo, in August 2013 for 266 million ($449 million), a deal that took it into the Lloyds of London market. The Bermuda Class of 2005 start-up said gross premiums written rose to $316.7 million in the three months ended March 31 from $214.9 million a year earlier. Net premiums written rose 72 percent to $204.4 million, while pretax profit fell to $57.4 million. Lancashire shares fell as low as 675 pence on the London Stock Exchange before recovering to 684 by 3.35pm GMT.

May 2. The largest catastrophe bond transaction in history completed today and was admitted for listing on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX). The $1.5 billion issuance through Bermuda special purpose insurer Everglades Re Ltd, will provide reinsurance coverage for Florida's state-created property insurer Citizens. The 2014 transaction is the third transaction with Everglades Re in the past three years, including an outstanding $250 million catastrophe bond issued in 2013. The historic deal marks another milestone for the Island's insurance industry and cements Bermuda's place as the world leader in the insurance-linked securities (ILS) market. By the end of this years first quarter, the BSX passed the $10 billion mark in total volume of insurance-linked listings of catastrophe bonds, ILS and insurance linked investment funds.

May 3. The path to Bermuda status for holders of Permanent Resident Certificates just got easier, under a ruling delivered yesterday at the Supreme Court. The judgment by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley undoes a legal precondition so confusing that Mr Justice Kawaley likened it to Lewis Carroll's fantasy of Alice in Wonderland. PRC holders Rebecca Carne and Antonio Correia initially had their applications for Bermuda status refused by Government, but the Immigration Appeals Tribunal later found they were entitled to status. That decision was subsequently challenged by Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy. However, in an almost 50-page judgment, Mr Justice Kawaley has dismissed that appeal, noting that the legal test had also served to clarify an obscure area of immigration law. Lawyer Peter Sanderson welcomed the ruling, telling The Royal Gazette: "This means that permanent residents who were here since July 31, 1989 will, as long as they are of good character, be able to apply for status. It helps people who've lived most of their lives in Bermuda to apply. This whole case is about clarifying what the law means and how people are supposed to go about applying. Permanent residency, introduced in 2002 by the Progressive Labour Party, creates a whole class of people who can use this section of the Immigration and Protection Act 1956 to apply for Bermuda status." The Act was amended in 2011 to create the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, thus providing applicants with an independent body to appeal decisions by the Minister. The Act also contains, in Section 20(B), a basis for PRC holders to bid for status. The two respondents in the case, who received their PRCs in 2009 and 2007 respectively, contacted Immigration in 2012 to query the procedure, but were told that no standard application forms existed through 20(B) because "it has not been used in quite some time now." 

May 3.  Bermuda's children suffer from higher rates of asthma and urinary infections, a top US doctor said yesterday. Dr Stuart Bauer, of Boston Children's Hospital, added that urinary tract infections including reflux, where urine backs up into the kidneys and can cause kidney failure and asthma are more common on the Island than in the US. He was speaking as a team of pediatric specialists from the hospital prepared to hold a two-day seminar for Island doctors and nurses to promote better links and childcare. Dr Bauer is a 37-year-veteran of the Harvard University teaching hospital.

May 6. The contract on Bermuda's new hospital wing has resulted in substantial losses for a major UK construction firm, according to The (Daily & Sunday) Telegraph, one of the UK's most prestigious newspapers. However, the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) last night responded to that the project remained squarely on budget. The British newspaper noted that Sir Robert McAlpine Holdings has reported a pre-tax loss of 37.7m for the financial year ending October 31, 2013 versus a 19.2m profit reported for the previous year. The company, which was behind the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, has been left deep in the red on the £ sterling 176 million contract for the acute care wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH). McAlpine Holdings is described as the umbrella company for the family's construction portfolio. Operating profits declined from 17.4m in 2012 to a loss of 40.2m. Company directors ascribed the fall in takings to the company's support for the Bermuda-registered BCM McAlpine Limited, which is the main contractor for the project. Severe problems with design and performance caused losses that were covered by a 50m stipend fronted by Sir Robert McAlpine Holdings. The Telegraph quotes company director Ian McAlpine as saying business was severely impacted by the difficulties encountered on the King Edward VII redevelopment. The construction of the new acute care wing is the Islands first public-private partnership, between BHB and Paget Health Services. Paget Health is a consortium of local and international companies, charged with building, financing and maintaining the new hospital wing over the next 30 years. Under the arrangement, cost overruns are to be carried by the contractor, and not by BHB. According to the UK newspaper, BCM McAlpine has significant claims outstanding from the project and owed the holding company 18.8m as of October 31 last year. The new acute care wing, originally slated for completion in March, is currently projected to be completed by mid-September of this year. A BHB spokeswoman said the organization had no comment on The Telegraph's story, adding: "The new wing is on track to be completed on budget and to the contracted quality standards and specifications. We look forward to opening our doors to the public this September."

May 7. Malika Musson has been named the new executive director of the Bermuda Hospitality Institute (BHI). Ms Musson, who has been involved with the tourism industry for nearly two decades, will start her new position on May 27. BHI board chairwoman Muriel Richardson said yesterday: "Malika's passion for, and commitment to, the hospitality industry made her the ideal candidate for this position. Her wide reaching experience will help ensure a seamless transition as the organization continues its vital work on behalf of the industry." Ms Musson has been working as the Country Sales Manager for United Airways, where she has been tasked with expanding the airlines customer base. She has also worked in sales and marketing for the Fairmont Hotels both in Bermuda and New York, had front desk and heart of the house responsibilities at Grotto Bay Beach Resort, worked as marketing officer for the LF Wade International Airport and as public affairs officer for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport.

May 15. A catastrophe insurance pool to insure a group of African countries against drought has been set up in Bermuda. Willis Group Holdings plc, a global broker and risk adviser, said today it had secured $55 million of index-based reinsurance capacity to set up the pool, which takes the form of a new Bermuda mutual insurance company, Africa Risk Capacity Insurance Company Ltd (ARC Ltd). The capital was raised from the international weather risk markets and the pool the first of its kind will issue insurance policies against drought to an initial group of five African countries: Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. It will allow member countries to respond quickly to a developing crisis, and rely less on uncertain international aid in times of drought, Willis stated. Teams from both Willis Re and Willis's Global Weather Risks Practice were involved in shaping the structure of ARC Ltd's reinsurance programme. David Simmons, managing director of analytics at Willis Re, said: "The underlying insurance policies issued by ARC Ltd are cutting-edge index-based coverages, with parametric triggers tailored to reflect each country's specific rainfall requirements for growing staple crops. The calculation of claims to the programme is based upon satellite rainfall data which is used to objectively determine whether a drought has occurred. This then allows claims to be calculated quickly, and as a result, funds can be deployed in a timely and efficient manner. This is one of the first times in Africa that the reinsurance process has become such a key instrument in achieving humanitarian and development goals." Julian Roberts, executive director of Willis's Global Weather Risks Practice, said: "A mechanism such as ARC Ltd demonstrates the very best of what can be achieved when governments and the re/insurance sector work together, and has the potential to increase the resilience of African countries to the climatic challenges which they face." Claire Wilkinson, partner of Willis's Global Weather Risks Practice, added: "We noted significant appetite for this risk from both the reinsurance and index-based weather market, which were very keen to support something so innovative and ground-breaking. Despite keen pricing, the core layers of the programmes were around three times over-subscribed. It is heartening to see so much support from the re/insurance industry for a project that has the potential to do so much good."

May 15. The Bermuda Post Office released this new First Day Cover and stamps featuring Bermuda's Bluebirds. 

2014 May 15 Bermuda Bluebird stamps

May 15.  London-based investment manager Securis Investment Partners LLP has opened a new office in Bermuda. The insurance-linked securities (ILS) specialists saw five entities registered during April, according to the Bermuda Monetary Authority's (BMA) monthly insurance incorporation statistics, as they established their presence on the Island. Rob Procter, chief executive officer of Securis based in London's city insurance district was in Bermuda last week, and met with The Royal Gazette along with Paul Larrett of the investment company's non-life arm, and who is setting up the Bermuda office. Mr Procter, who said they were happy and excited to be in Bermuda, explained Securis representatives had already been regular visitors to the Island, but had found that they needed a presence here. "Bermuda is very important to the world reinsurance industry, particularly to access US business. The ILS community is well established in Bermuda, and we are one of the largest of the ILS firms, the fifth or sixth in the world, and the largest in London. Now in Bermuda, Securis have registered special purpose insurers (SPIs) Securis Re I Ltd, Securis Re III Ltd and Securis Re IV Ltd, as well as intermediary entities Securis ILS Management Ltd, an agent, and Securis ILS Management Ltd, a manager. The size of the office will remain small for now. In Bermuda, we have one person, Paul Larrett. " Mr Larrett knows the Island well, having lived here between 2003 and 2012. A colleague will be joining him in August, but otherwise, he explained: "We want to put some business on our books before staffing out. We want to get the business, then build the platform to support it. If we employ anyone in the near future it will be a catastrophe modeler, and depending on how things go, in the future we may add other staff members to the team, such as an office manager or a quantitative analyst." However, the executives say Securis, which is setting up its presence in O'Hara House on Bermudiana Road, will contribute to the economy as they spend on local IT, telecommunications and entertaining clients and brokers who come to the Island to meet with them. Mr Procter said their dealings with the Government and agencies were positive. "The regulator welcomed us with open arms We are pleased with the BMA in particular, and various service providers for helping us. The ILS sector has definitely become more competitive, as investments, they've become more mainstream. However, we are entering a more competitive period. There's still plenty of room for growth. 70 percent of catastrophe losses are uninsured. That's why I'm excited. We have a great business in London, but you ultimately have to be in Bermuda as well."

May 17. The Opposition Progressive Labour Party is seeking to strike down a loophole in immigration law allowing for the grant of Bermuda status to applicants with the least connection with Bermuda. A clause recently used to confer status on two permanent residents certificate (PRC) holders could be deleted from the Act under the proposed change to the law. The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2014 seeks to delete the Act's entire provision for the Minister to grant Bermuda status to people who resided on the Island before July 31, 1989, and who had at least one Bermudian parent, and were born locally or first arrived in Bermuda before their sixth birthday; or are British Dependent Territories citizens by virtue of a grant by the Governor. For PRCs, applicants must also have lived in Bermuda for ten years at the time of application and, among other stipulations, show that they are of good character. However, the implications of the section specifically, 20B (2)(b) took many by surprise when Chief Justice Ian Kawaley earlier this month upheld a decision by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal for PRC applicants Rebecca Carne and Antonio Correia to get full status. Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown announced yesterday that the Progressive Labour Party would seek to remove all of section 20B. Moving for leave to introduce and read the Bill at the next sitting of Parliament, Mr Brown told MPs it was aimed at bringing legislation in line with Government policy since 1989. According to its explanatory memo, the Bill would strike down the catch-all criteria granting status to applicants with the least connection with Bermuda, and the greatest potential for harming Bermuda aspirant and real economic and social well being as well as closing a loophole in the law.

May 19.  Four Bermuda Hogge pennies sold for a combined total of $658,000 over the weekend. The coins were auctioned off by 102-year-old US numismatist Eric P Newman, a world-renowned collector whose previous collections have sold for upwards of $24 million. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Eric P Newman Numismatic Education Society that was founded in 1958. Mr Newman sold a Sommer Islands Twopence for $64,625; Threepence for $205,625; Sixpence for $129,250; and Shilling for $258,500. The coins were all struck between 1615 and 1616.

May 19.  Bermuda beat out competition from Switzerland to become the domicile of the first-ever African catastrophe insurance pool, Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons told MPs today. The ARC Insurance Company Ltd is a mutual insurance company established on the Island to provide drought coverage for five African countries: Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. The company was set up by African Risk Capacity (ARC), a specialized agency set up by the African Union to help member states become more financially resilient to extreme weather events and to protect insecure food populations. The capital was provided by the governments of the UK and Germany. "I am pleased to say that Bermuda was selected over Switzerland as the best jurisdiction to locate this mutual insurance company after careful due diligence by a number of international agencies," Dr Gibbons said in the House of Assembly. "It is possible that at some point in the future, the company may consider re-domiciling to Africa, depending on the wishes of the members and directors." Dr Gibbons revealed that ARC officials had visited Bermuda several times during the past 18 months, for talks with himself and financial regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Marsh IAS, the insurance manager in Bermuda, Willis Group as reinsurance broker, and Appleby Bermuda, who assisted with ARC Ltd's incorporation, are among others involved with the new company. "Bermuda's participation in this co-operative approach to assisting African countries is a strong vote of confidence for our country," Dr Gibbons said. "Not only will ARC Insurance Company be domiciled here, but our involvement in the development of mutual insurance to assist African countries will provide targeted responses to disasters in a more timely, cost-effective and transparent manner. We are at the forefront in the formation of a fund that facilitates financial stability in instances where other insurance options are not available. In addition to the reputational benefit for Bermuda as the host jurisdiction, we believe there may be future opportunities for commercial business and jobs. Africa represents one of the fastest growing economies and there is clearly a potential for other insurance business being located in Bermuda." The insurance policies issued this month by ARC Ltd will provide a total of approximately $135 million in drought insurance coverage tailored to the specific requirements of the insured countries. In addition to its own capital, ARC Ltd has secured US $55 million of capacity from the international reinsurance and weather risk markets in order to cover the risks it is taking on from the participating countries. The ARC Agency said the new insurance pool would make disaster-stricken African countries less reliant on international aid and also avoid the scenario of having to divert funds from important development projects to deal with an immediate crisis. Henry Rotich, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, said: "Droughts undermine our hard-won development gains, just as Africa is beginning to realize its vast potential. ARC will help us build resilience among vulnerable populations, protect our agriculture investments, thereby increasing productivity, as well as promoting fiscal stability by preventing budget dislocation in a crisis." Nigeria's Finance Minister Okojo Iweala, chairman of the ARC Agency Board, described the formation of the Bermuda-based catastrophe insurance pool as a "transformative moment in our efforts to take ownership and use aid more effectively. It is an unprecedented way of organizing ourselves with our partners, with Africa taking the lead taking our collective destiny into our own hands, rather than relying on the international community for bailouts." Dr Gibbons told MPs: "I believe all Honourable Members can be proud that Bermuda and our on-island expertise have played such a key role in this important international initiative."

May 21. The Elbow Beach Resort has reopened as an independently managed property under the direction of the Burns Group. The news comes two months after the management contract with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group expired and was not renewed. Burns Group is led by veteran hotelier Edmund Burns, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry. “This resort has all the assets needed to be successful,” Mr Burns said in a press statement. “Not the least of which is the best private beach in Bermuda, as well as a world-class spa, outstanding dining options and a strong staff of dedicated professionals.” Mr Burns noted that business is set to be brisk at the resort during the coming months. Elbow Beach has 98 guestrooms and suites spread among 50 acres of gardens. Mr Burns has a track record of hotel revitalization. He has participated in the development, construction and opening of more than $2 billion of hotel real estate, more than $1 billion in acquisitions, asset management of a $1 billion hotel portfolio, and the repositioning and renovation of numerous high-profile hotel properties, according to the press statement. Mr Burns said: “We are dedicated to being the hotel of choice in Bermuda for the business traveler whether hosting board meetings, conferences or leisure functions or coming to stay for whilst on business. We are also dedicated to making Elbow Beach Bermuda the resort of choice whenever the leisure traveler selects their travel destination and we are committed to invest our resources to make this happen. “We have an incredible location on one of the world’s most beautiful islands, which also happens to be less than a two-hour flight from a potential customer base in some of the most affluent cities in North America.”

May 22. A garden honoring the “Double Fantasy” flower that inspired John Lennon’s final album has been awarded a bronze medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. The Bermuda Double Fantasy Garden was created by floral artist and architect Nicky Gurret, incorporating a palette of local flowers and also paying homage to the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, which celebrates its 130th anniversary next year. Appearing at the show on Monday, Ms Gurret dressed up as Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, after whom the iconic Bermuda hotel was named. The Chelsea Flower Show is the most famous event of its kind in the UK, and visitors to the Bermuda Double Fantasy Garden have been treated to many aspects of the Island, such as its verdant landscapes and pink sand beaches. The garden also honours Mr Lennon, the former Beatle, who stayed in Bermuda for two months during the summer of 1980 and wrote and worked on songs that were released on his final album later that year. The album was called Double Fantasy after the name of a freesia he came across while visiting the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. 

2014 Clelsea Flower Show garden

Nicky Gurret and her Chelsea Flower Show prize-winning garden

May 23. Bermuda's House of Assembly formally approved Wedco's grant of a 99-year lease, on a peppercorn (cannonball) rent, to the National Museum for the surviving 15.78 acres of the Dockyard fortifications, from Commissioner’s House in the east to Casemate Barracks in the west, and the very significant hard Bermuda limestone buildings within. This was a follow-up to the December 2013 assent by Governor of Bermuda George Fergusson of The Bermuda Maritime Museum Association Amendment Act 2013 that officially changed the name of the museum to the National Museum of Bermuda.

May 23. Government is today set to announce a developer has been signed up for the old Club Med site in St George's. Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell is slated to make a St George's tourism announcement in the House of Assembly this morning. And it is thought it will involve the former hotel site, which has lain unused for years since Club Med pulled out of Bermuda in the 1980s. The site could also become the home of the Island's first casino, if legislation allowing gambling in Bermuda is passed as expected next month. Premier Michael Dunkley yesterday declined to comment on the specifics of the announcement. But he said: "There will be a big announcement that has great potential for Bermuda going forward. I think people are going to see, in spite of some of the clouds of negativity we have seen over the past couple of weeks, the work of Government has still gone on and progress has been made. I'm just excited to hear the Ministerial statement in the House when he reads it out. People need to understand how we get here because a lot of people think you just go and find somebody. There was a tourism summit last summer and we had investors from all over the world who came to the table and talked to us about what they thought Bermuda needed to attract people, what type of facilities Bermuda needed. Out of that, the request for proposals was put together for the East End facility and we've worked through that process. The Minister for Tourism Mr Crockwell today must feel tremendously satisfied that he's in this position." Mr Crockwell also declined to comment on details of the deal. But he said: I'm very excited we can make this announcement despite what's been going on, we've been hard at work and I think its going to be a very exciting announcement." St Georges North MP Kenny Bascome, a former Mayor of the Old Town, said: "St George's is the jewel of Bermuda. There are a number of small entrepreneurs that have opened in St George's. they must have some kind of vision that something is going to happen. I hope things work out to allow them to be successful." The former hotel lay derelict for 20 years until the building was demolished with explosives in 2008 and the site cleared.

May 24. The latest tourism figures show visitors staying longer during a traditionally quiet time for arrivals and airline capacity has also grown, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The BTA yesterday published its performance statistics for the Island, showing a 1.9 percent rise in room nights booked for the month of March over last year, from 22,985 to 23,416. For the year to date, room nights have risen just over one percent, from 52,147 to 52,672. Hotels average daily rates for the year to date rise three percent over last year, with revenue per available room up by 7.2 percent, according to figures published online at the BTA site. The organization called the next year promising, with 7.5 percent more room nights booked over last year. Group room nights rose 12.5 percent. Air visitor arrivals for March dropped 1.9 percent against last year: 15,015 versus 15,309 and year to date arrivals dropped from 31,300 to 30,971. Airline capacity has risen for the year to date: available seats rose from 106,144 to 110,826. Bill Hanbury, CEO, called the rise in room nights during a period of decreased arrivals an accomplishment, showing that visitors were staying longer and spending more at the Islands hotels. "It is also important to note that the increase in airline capacity shows confidence that demand for Bermuda and performance in the future will increase," Mr Hanbury said.

May 24.  A PLP Government would ditch the new independent Tourism Authority and take its work back in-house or make it find its own funds, said Opposition leader Marc Bean. The current arrangement with the Tourism Authority will change and change immediately, he said. He added he was not prepared to go into details of any changes that might be made. But he promised the authority would either absorbed back into Government proper or truly have it privatized.  Mr Bean was speaking as MPs debated the Budget allocation for tourism which included $23.1 million to fund the new authority. Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell told MPs that the new authority, which replaces the Government-run Department of Tourism, was a game-changing advance. Mr Crockwell said: "I believe it's historic for Bermuda and I believe it will be the watershed for how tourism is managed and I believe we will see fantastic results going forward. The traditional approach to tourism had not produced results in terms of increased visitor numbers to the Island. This is not the fault of any particular Government or any particular Minister, but the Government believes the methodology of how tourism was managed was broken."

May 24. Bermuda has been named the eighth most affordable Caribbean destination for US travelers between the months of March and April this year by the world's largest travel website, TripAdvisor. The online travel agency has also announced its readers voted Horseshoe Beach the sixth out of the 25 best beaches in the Caribbean. A cost-comparison for a family or group for four traveling to 20 of the most popular Caribbean destinations for US residents took into account travel expenses, including the average round-trip airfare from the continental US, a seven-night hotel stay, dinner for six nights and a half-day snorkeling excursion for four. Though the cost-comparison ranked Bermuda as the eighth-cheapest destination, the average hotel cost was the highest out of the nine other destinations at $2,577.82, while the average costs of a round-trip flight for four to Bermuda was the second cheapest at $2,067.64. Dining was also the most expensive in Bermuda, costing an average of $1,158.84, while the average cost of a snorkel trip was the fifth cheapest in Bermuda at $260. The average cost for a one-week trip for a family or group of four traveling to Bermuda during the spring travel period is $6,064.30, compared to an average of $7,152 for all other Caribbean destinations. The average cost for round-trip flights throughout the Caribbean is $3,253 and $2,772 for one week in a hotel. The average nightly rate for a Caribbean hotel during March-April is $396, compared to $368.26 in Bermuda. The costliest stays are in St. Barts, where the average nightly rate of $844 is more than two times the average for the region.

May 24.  The building of a resort at Morgan's Point, starting with a boutique 84-room hotel, has won bipartisan support with the approval of a fresh land agreement for the West End property. Developer Craig Christensen called the passage of the Morgan's Point Resort Act 2014 extremely significant in getting the project moving. "We couldn't get financing until the Act was finished, because the land was going to be moved around. We needed this to be passed for us to have certainty that was the critical piece." Mr Christensen said the new land agreement helps Government on the remediation side and makes a better plan for us, adding: "This makes it more nimble for us to finance." Originally broken into seven packages of land, the brownfield site overlapping Southampton and Sandys parishes is now subdivided into 37 pieces. Mr Christensen, along with developers Nelson Hunt and Brian Duperreault, now has just over 183 acres of land on the former US Naval Annex. The group will be able to proceed with a small hotel in the Georges Bay area, which Mr Christensen likened to Tuckers Point in terms of size. The resort will no longer proceed with a golf course, and gives up 31.5 acres from its leasehold, but Mr Christensen said there was little issue given the proximity of Port Royal Golf Course, to which Morgan's Point clients will have access under the new agreement. "It's right across the street from us and it would have been pointless to go into competition with Port Royal. Otherwise, the development plans have not really changed." The new plan leaves out a modest-sized third hotel catering to yacht owners. After completing the boutique hotel, however, developers are committed to putting a 416-room luxury hotel out on the peninsula. Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin told MPs on Friday that the Act mean withholding 31.5 acres from leasehold and relinquishing 6.2 acres in the freehold section, such that the developers will now have a total of 183.1 acres, as against a total of 208.4 acres in the original Act. "This adjustment allows the Government to remediate the property that is not part of the revised boundaries," Ms Gordon-Pamplin said. 

May 24.  Scores of sporting and cultural events have been given a cash boost of almost $1 million to help them attract more visitors to the Island. The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) has awarded the grants to 33 tourism experiences that enhance Bermudas overall tourism product, raise awareness of the Island, and ultimately get more tourists to visit Bermuda. A total of $930,500 will be invested in the next 12 months, with sporting events picking up the largest proportion of funding. More than $600,000 has been earmarked for 21 major attractions in the sporting calendar, including the Newport-Bermuda sailing race which was awarded $150,000 the World Rugby Classic, and the Bermuda Invitational celebrity golf tournament. Other winners in the sports category include an annual Beach Tennis tournament at Horseshoe Bay, and a number of fishing tournaments. And 11 cultural experiences have also received funding to the tune of $290,500, including historical re-enactments in St George's, the City Fashion Festival and the Chewstick Lounge. The Little Island Big Adventure eco tour group was the one organization in the natural resources category to earn a grant, picking up $10,000 from the authority. Grants averaged just over $30,000. 

May 24. Bermuda's take from the tourism industry is set to smash through the $1 billion dollar mark over the next ten years, a major new survey has predicted. The survey said the total contribution to the Island's coffers last year was more than $858 million but that is expected to rise by 4.1 percent next year and reach $1.26 billion by 2024, a 3.5 percent increase every year over the next decade. The survey found that tourism supported 7,346 jobs nearly a fifth of the workforce either directly or indirectly last year. And it is predicted that figure will go up by 2.3 percent (169 jobs) this year and continue to rise by 1.7 percent a year and hit 9000 jobs in ten years (20.8 percent of the workforce). The predictions came in a major survey of the industry carried out by the UK-based World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). And WTTC president and CEO David Scowsill said that, worldwide, spending by tourists had risen by nearly four percent last year but that spending by travelers from south east Asia had gone up by ten percent.

May 24.  St George's MP Kenneth Bascome has hailed the announcement that his area could get a new hotel and casino as great news. Mr Bascome said the proposed redevelopment of the former Club Med site was not just a boost for the East End, but Bermuda as a whole. And the Old Towne's former mayor last night praised Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell for making the agreement possible. While the Government backbencher acknowledged that only a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with developers Desarrollos Hotelco Group, he expressed hope that negotiations over the next four months would result in a development. "It will not be allowed to go on for four years before this group is finally told that they have exhausted their exclusivity," Mr Bascome said in a reference to Carl Bazarian's drawn out but ultimately futile attempt to develop the location between 2008 and 2012. "I believe this is great news not only for the community of St George but for Bermuda as a whole. I believe that we need to focus on taking this country where it needs to go by creating jobs and bringing in foreign investment. I have always said that, as an OBA MP, I would have access to Ministers and be able to do things for my community through having that access. I would like to thank Minister Shawn Crockwell and his support staff for selecting this group. Hopefully by September we will know if they are in a position to move forward with their proposal." 

May 24.  Nearly half of residents believe the newly formed Bermuda Tourism Authority will be able to rejuvenate the struggling industry. However, a proposal allowing visitors to rent cars has been overwhelmingly rejected, according to a survey commissioned by The Royal Gazette. Overall 46 percent of more than 400 residents said they believed the independent organization, which replaced the Government-run Department of Tourism last month, will be effective in bringing about an upswing in the Islands second pillar of the economy. The poll, carried out by marketing firm Global Research in the first week of this month, asked 419 residents if they believed the BTA would bolster the hospitality industry. While 192 respondents expressed faith in the new body, 105 people 25 percent believed it will not be effective in boosting visitor arrival figures. A further 29 percent of respondents were undecided. A call by BTA chairman David Dodwell for Government to investigate the possibility of allowing visitors to hire cars has been firmly rejected by survey respondents, with 293 people 70 percent saying they did not support the proposal. Twenty-eight percent of those polled gave the initiative their backing, while two percent were undecided. The concept, put forward by Mr Dodwell in February, had already come under fire from the taxi industry, with Taxi Owners and Operators Association president Derek Young claiming it would result in panic and turmoil on Bermuda's roads. Government set up the Tourism Authority last month claiming the industry needed to be run by experts in the private sector rather than politicians. Although it was given a $23.1 million grant by Government in February, it is expected to be self-funding within the next two years.

May 27. Oslo (Bloomberg) North Atlantic Drilling Ltd., the rig-owner controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, signed a cooperation deal with OAO Rosneft that will make Russia's biggest oil company one of its largest shareholders. The accord, signed as the US and the European Union threaten further sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, will see Rosneft employ as many as nine offshore rigs for the equivalent of 35 rig years, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based driller said. Rosneft will buy a significant stake and Seadrill Ltd. will remain the biggest owner. Seadrill, 24.5 percent owned by Fredriksen, holds 69.7 percent of North Atlantic. It was one of several deals between Rosneft and international companies signed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum this weekend, less than a month after the US adopted sanctions against the Russian oil firms CEO Igor Sechin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. Seadrill and North Atlantic Drilling see huge possibilities in the Russian market and aren't concerned about the current tensions, Seadrill chief financial officer Rune Magnus Lundetrae said from London. "We operate in many parts of the world where there is or can be unrest, so it's just business as usual for us. Right now, there are no challenges related to Rosneft and sanctions. North Atlantic is already set to drill two wells in 2014 and 2015 in the Arctic Kara Sea for Rosneft's joint venture with Exxon Mobil Corp. The Russian state-controlled oil producer extended that deal with the biggest US crude producer at the same venue in St. Petersburg, in addition to signing deals with BP Plc and companies from India to Venezuela." Under the deal with Rosneft, due to last until at least 2022, North Atlantic will also venture into onshore drilling in Russia. The agreement, which is expected to be completed during the second half of the year, may involve asset swaps between the two companies, Sechin said in St. Petersburg May 24. Rosneft could over time increase its stake in North Atlantic to as much as 50 percent, two people familiar with the agreement said. They declined to be identified because the details of the deal hadn't been made public yet. Seadrill will remain the largest shareholder in North Atlantic in the short and medium term," Lundetrae said. He declined to comment on the rates that will be charged under the agreement while Sechin said they would be at market levels. "This is a good deal," Lundetrae said. "We've seen that you don't make the best deal through traditional tendering processes, where you're usually measured only on price, but by offering a package.

May 27.  US consultant Ronald Sutherland was a key player in finding a taker for the former Club Med site in St George's, which could gain a casino resort through the Desarrollos Hotelco Group. Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell described Mr Sutherland, founder of international real estate advisers Hemisphere Group, as an intermediary putting out the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the brownfield site. Mr Sutherland was hired through the investment division of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, to provide investment concierge services, the Minister said. There was no tendering process in taking him on, and his hiring in mid-December, 2013 was handled by the executive steering committee of the just-formed BTA. As a go-between with potential developers, Mr Sutherland did have some form of communications with US developer Nathan Landow, Mr Crockwell added. However, Mr Crockwell refused to reveal the consultant's salary despite Parliamentary questions from Opposition MPs, citing BTA policy which allows its members to keep their pay private. Shadow Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva accused the One Bermuda Alliance of keeping information from the Bermudian people, but the Minister responded that the BTA doesn't disclose its employees confidential information. When Opposition Leader Marc Bean asked if Government had no issue with the lack of transparency over taxpayer funds, Mr Crockwell responded that the Bill creating the BTA had been debated in Parliament and that we were fulsome in our explanations as to why we believe that the independent management of the Authority is efficacious to turn around tourism in this country. Mr Crockwell said the process of vetting proposals had been stewarded by Permanent Secretary Francis Richardson, along with Aideen Ratteray Pryse the director of Planning with BTA chairman David Dodwell, in consultation with Mr Sutherland. Asked by OBA MP Suzann Robert-Holshouser if financing was in place for the potential East End development, the Minister responded that Cabinet had been satisfied with the financial information provided by this finalist.

May 28. WASHINGTON (AP) The highest paid chief executive officer in the US heads Bermuda-domiciled oil drilling company Nabors Industries. Anthony Petrello's total compensation totalled a staggering $68.2 million last year. Pay for globe-trotting CEOs has soared to new heights, even as most workers remain grounded by pay checks that are barely budging. While pay for the typical CEO of a company in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index surged nine percent last year to $10.46 million, it rose a scant 1.3 percent for US workers as a whole. That CEO now earns 257 times the US national average, up from a multiple of 181 in 2009, according to an analysis by The Associated Press and Equilar. Those figures help reveal a widening gap between the ultra-wealthy and ordinary workers around the world. That gap has fed concerns about economic security everywhere from large cities where rents are high to small towns where jobs are scarce. Here are five reasons why CEOs are enjoying lavish pay increases and five reasons many people are stuck with stagnant incomes.

Why CEOs are getting huge increases. 

Why many of us aren't getting a rise

May 28. Holiday weekend lightning storms interrupted service for some wireless users of the Island’s largest internet service provider, but the company said they expected service to be restored by yesterday. Private healthcare provider Madeleine Outerbridge said her North Rock (Logic) internet connection had gone down on Friday — but complained yesterday the company had failed to tell her what was wrong or when the connection would be restored. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “There are a lot of people without internet — we can’t send e-mails and they just don’t return our calls. There is no contact. We call and call and nothing happens.” Ms Outerbridge added that she used her Northrock service for both business and personal use — and said the loss of connection was bound to be affecting business users. She said: “I’ve got business friends who use it for their work. We’re all in the same boat. It has to be affecting people’s business if they can’t get into their internet.” But Logic CEO Vicki Coelho stated that outages affected a small number of customers and work was in hand to affect the necessary repairs. Ms Coelho said. “Due to the extreme thunder and lightning storm early Sunday morning Logic is experiencing Wireless Access issues in the Paget and Devonshire parishes. Fortunately the number of customers impacted is small. The engineering team is addressing the service interruption. We anticipate resolution shortly. Logic cares about our customers and are taking measures to ensure interruptions of this nature are minimized.” Customers contacting the company by telephone yesterday were greeted with a recorded message stating: “Logic is aware of some customers having difficulties connecting to the internet. There is no outage within Logic’s network at the moment, but there may be an issue with one of the local access providers. “Our engineers are working with them and we expect the issue will be resolved shortly. If you would like to be notified when service will be restored, press one now.” Late in the day, Ms Coelho stated, “The percentage of customers affected was minimal. Logic provides internet over BTC DSL, Cablevision data access, and our own Wireless Access. The customers that were affected were on the Wireless infrastructure. We anticipate resolution today.” ISPs Logic Communications and North Rock Communications announced a plan to merge a year ago in April, with the Logic name remaining and the North Rock products rebranded.

May 29. The Bermuda Legion has linked forces with overseas services after being formally invited to join the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League. The Island’s charity for war veterans and their widows has also become affiliated with the Royal Canadian Legion’s Caribbean branch in an effort to boost its advocacy for the veteran community. Bermuda Legion caseworker Carol Everson said that while the move was unlikely to bring in more funds for local veterans, it would bring benefits “much more valuable than money”. “They now stand shoulder to shoulder with us in advocacy, and we get the chance to join in fellowship with other Caribbean legions,” Ms Everson said. “Some of the nations are poor, but others like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain have very strong backgrounds of providing resources for veterans.” In an effort spanning years, the Bermuda Legion had to provide evidence of good governance, plus financial statements of its welfare work. “We’ve asked for help and support in maintaining our benefits for Bermuda’s war veterans, as most of our veterans are around 90 years old and many are in frail health. We’ve asked for help in protecting benefits and pensions which at this moment barely meet the most basic of their needs. We’ve still got about 230 veterans in Bermuda, plus some who don’t receive Government benefits, and we’re striving to protect the benefits that they only received a few years ago, having gone the better part of their lifetimes with no recognition.” Ms Everson added: “One important thing to note is they don’t ask us to send any monies back to them. We send nothing out of Bermuda, and all our donated funds are spent on welfare and advocacy.” Among the Legion’s hopes is to open “a nursing rest home specifically for veterans and widows”, she said. “There’s a great need for good nursing homes, and a dearth of good care within them.” Ms Everson said she’d also been invited by the Royal Scottish Legion to attend a summer training course on “well-being and befriending” — which consists of “going to people’s homes to check on them, making sure that they have medical and family support and that they’re not in want”.

June 

June 1 to 4. Bermuda Captives (Insurers) Conference. Fairmont Southampton Resort. Attendees from Bermuda and world-wide were many.

June 3.  A health watchdog is backing calls for improved standards in nursing homes, claiming that the Island is failing to care for its weakest members. The Bermuda Healthcare Advocacy Group (BHAG) said it supports claims by Shadow Seniors Minister Derrick Burgess that some nursing homes do not provide adequate standards of care for the elderly. Last week Mr Burgess said he had heard numerous reports of maltreatment at a number of nursing homes, with patients left unattended for long periods, and some homes having below-standard facilities. He also questioned why Government was failing to build more rest homes, which are needed to cater to an ageing population. Government responded by saying the private sector was better equipped to provide more nursing home beds. Yesterday a BHAG spokesman said it welcomed Mr Burgess's comments. 

June 5.  Health insurance premiums continue to rise well above the rate of inflation, according to the latest figures. The Consumer Price Index for April shows that, while prices across all sectors rose by just 1.9 percent since April 2013, the cost of health insurance surged by a massive 8.2 percent. The vast majority of insurance policies are renewed each April, and The Royal Gazette understands that insurance firms were looking to increase contracts by around ten percent this year. Last year some companies were asked to up their payments by as much as 20 percent. According to a statement provided by Government's Department of Statistics, the Health and Personal Care sector remained the largest contributor to the 12-month rate of price increase. The annual increase in April 2014 measured 6.6 percent year over year, led by increased costs for health insurance premiums, the statement said. The Health and personal Care sector had the largest impact on the CPI increase in April. The average cost of health insurance premiums surged 8.2 percent, leading to a 5.3 percent increase in the Health and Personal Care sector. The index also shows that, since 2006 the average price of goods and services has risen by 23.8 percent but health costs including insurance have shot up by almost 75 percent. Bermuda Hospitals Board maintains that it has always strived to keep healthcare bills down, with the cost of medical procedures rising just one percent in the past year. A BHB spokesman pointed out that, while the cost of a single procedure may remain fairly constant, increased usage could lead to an increase in insurance claims. Nevertheless, Island insurance companies have reported strong profits recently. BF&M Ltd recorded a net income of $25.2 million for 2013 and noted that life and health policy benefits cash paid out by the firm to cover claims decreased by 21.7 percent to $83.8 million. BF&M president and CEO John Wight last night defended the increases, saying that rates were adjusted in the first quarter of each financial year following BHB increases in addition to new services offered, and changes in the frequency and severity of services provided locally and overseas. Mr Wight suggested that health services were not always delivered in the most cost-efficient way, while Government subsidies or certain treatments had been cut back, forcing premiums to rise. And he also pointed out that hundreds of healthy, younger guest workers had let the Island in recent years whose contributions had helped offset the higher healthcare costs of Bermuda's ageing population. While most of the trending for healthcare has been upwards, there are many employer groups in Bermuda who do receive minimal, no increase, or even a drop in rates annually if claims in a particular year or years are lower than the insurance company priced them to be, Mr Wight said. Many employer groups are taking wellness programmes very seriously as premiums are generally lower for groups that are healthy and whose claims experience is good. "The picture is not as doom and gloom as it might appear though. Local health insurers are working collaboratively together and with important stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health and the Environment, The Bermuda Health Council, and the Bermuda Hospitals Board, to make progress on what are very complicated issues with no easy answers. There are goals that we believe the Island can work towards. The broader conversation needs to be around how to reduce the cost of delivering care while improving the health outcomes of our community. Additionally, defining at the outset our goals for Bermuda's healthcare sector and the measurable metrics indicating failure or success is critical. Bermuda is not unique to the rising cost of healthcare. Virtually every country in the world, albeit to differing levels, is grappling with the issue of medical costs being a major driver in the cost of living. In addition to the cost of healthcare, the larger question is one of value for money. What is the proper balance between accessibility and affordability?"

June 6. Gibraltar’s Minister of Finance, Albert Isola, met briefly with Premier and National Security Minister Michael Dunkley yesterday in a courtesy call at the Cabinet Office. The visiting Minister is pressing the case for bilateral agreements to work together in future commercial, regulatory and jurisdictional endeavors. A government spokesman said a short discussion centred around Overseas Territories, jurisdictional commonalities and potential opportunities to develop a closer relationship between the two jurisdictions. He told The Royal Gazette this week that he wished “to engage the Premier to talk through some of the initiatives that we would like to develop.” Mr Isola said there was no intention to steal Bermuda’s business away. But he felt that a spirit of communication and cooperation would be mutually beneficial. He said: “It’s been a very good trip, very interesting. We have a lot to learn from you and we are hoping in the process we can also pass on some of our lessons.” Prior to yesterday’s meeting, the Premier and Minister Isola exchanged gifts.

June 6. Bermuda's tourism industry will get a huge boost later this year when hundreds of US travel agents hold a convention on the Island. Around 600 delegates from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) will sail to Bermuda on board the cruise ship Norwegian Breakaway, spending three days here between September 17-19 before heading back to New York. The agents will attend a series of presentations while at sea, but once they reach dry land they will be encouraged to explore the Island. The Bermuda Hotels Association and Bermuda Tourism Authority will be hosting a Taste of Bermuda reception at Dockyard where local vendors can showcase their goods and services to the travel agents, while the Corporation of Hamilton will be holding a cocktail party for the group. The visitors will also be given concessions on some Island attractions while ten separate groups will spend one morning touring various Island properties. A scavenger hunt, a tennis tournament and golf tournament are also planned. Describing Bermuda as the jewel of the Atlantic, the ASTA website states: "Bermuda is much closer than you think, less than two hours away from most eastern US airports. With incomparable weather, pink sand beaches, breadth of historic sites and warm, friendly people, its no wonder CondeNast Traveler readers have voted Bermuda Best Island in the Caribbean/Atlantic 18 times since 1994. For the first time in its 80-plus year existence, ASTA is holding its annual meeting on board a cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, which will sail from New York to Bermuda. Norwegian is bringing its entire team of sales directors from across North America to the Annual General Conference, including Andrew Stuart, EVP of global sales and passenger services and Camille Olivere, SVP of sales. ASTA will kick off its annual meeting with a black-tie gala advocacy dinner at the St Regis New York Hotel in midtown Manhattan to highlight the hard work of those who advocate for travel agents. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is invited. As convention attendees learn how to Seas the Future while on board and in Bermuda, there also will be opportunities to network and enjoy the travel, including a private sail-away party, a Taste of Bermuda reception with the Bermuda Hotel Association and suppliers, and an exclusive evening reception hosted by Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge at Pier 6." Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury said: "The Bermuda Tourism Authority embraced this conference as a top priority for our first year in operation." It's a very prestigious group to have on-island and we've committed significant resources, both personnel wise and financial, to ensure they have a great experience." And Bermuda Hotel Association president JP Martens added: "The ASTA conference is a great opportunity for Bermuda to showcase its beauty, people and resorts to 600 agents from our North American market. The BHA is looking forward to working with the BTA in hosting these agents on-island and showing them what Bermuda has to offer for their clients." ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said: "I can't think of a better way to bring travel professionals, suppliers and industry experts together to devise a plan to future-proof their businesses while doing what agents do best exploring a great destination like Bermuda. You've got to work hard to play hard and that's what well be doing on the Breakaway." The prestigious organization claims it is the leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public. ASTA members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. It is estimated that the reach of the ASTA group translates into millions of dollars through new leisure visitor travel to the Island. 

June 7. National heroes were never meant to be named every year, according to Minister of Community, Culture and Sports Wayne Scott. His comments came in the House of Assembly this morning following confirmation this week that no new heroes would be named when Bermuda celebrates National Heroes Day later this month. However, Mr Scott said the Ministry would work to reinstate a Naming and Recognition Committee, responsible for overseeing public nominations and naming future honorees. "In undertaking this process the Ministry will encourage the public's input regarding who should be our next National Hero," Mr Scott said. "It is intended that the selection process will culminate in a new National Hero being announced during a naming ceremony planned for June, 2015." A total of five heroes have been honoured since the National Heroes Day was established but no new names have been added to the list since Mary Prince in 2012. 

June 7. The water off Bermuda's beaches remain clean, Government said last night. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that regular monitoring at beaches so far this year had found no pollution problems. Beaches checked include tourist magnets like Horseshoe Bay, Warwick Long Bay, Elbow Beach, John Smith's Bay, Clearwater Beach, Snorkel Park and Tobacco Bay. The spokeswoman said samples are collected twice a week by Environmental Health officers, who also carry out a visual inspection of the beaches. The results of the tests are published on the Government website at http://tinyurl.com/ljl2pxa - a move taken after the US Consulate in Bermuda in March issued a warning over mixed sewage and grease pollution off the south shore of the Island. The US acted after earlier tests by experts revealed sewage contamination of water following specific weather conditions. Testing is carried out for the enterococci group of bacteria as an indicator of faecal pollution in line with US Environmental Protection Agency rules for water quality monitoring.

June 7. Around 1,500 residents stand to obtain Bermuda status — thanks to a recently discovered immigration “loophole”, affirmed in a ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. And it was claimed in the House of Assembly, as MPs clashed over the ruling’s implications, that a “slew” of Permanent Residents’ Certificate (PRC) holders have already applied to Immigration to get Bermuda Status. However, Government has declared that all current applications have been put on hold until the matter is clarified. Attorney General Trevor Moniz told MPs yesterday that Government had reached no decision yet over the surprise ruling, which could still be appealed further. However, he said the One Bermuda Alliance refused to back a “premature” amendment proposed by the Opposition to strike down the culprit section of the law. In the meantime, Junior Immigration Minister Sylvan Richards told the House that Government had enlisted a Queen’s Counsel with a specialty in human rights law to review the case. The debate touched also on long-held sensitivities over the history of discretionary status grants, which were discarded in 1989. Introducing the amendment for its second reading was Shadow Minister of Immigration and Home Affairs Walton Brown, who called it “a stopgap measure that allows us to step back and fully consider the most appropriate immigration policy for this country”. Otherwise, he said, Mr Justice Kawaley’s ruling has created a situation in which legislation was decided by a judge instead of by Parliament. 

June 9. Bermuda will have to look for outside funding to pay for a new airport, MPs were told on Friday. Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell said that a modernized airport would cost hundreds of millions of dollars — money Government did not have. “What the Government wants to do and what Government is committed to doing is create a better airport, a new airport, so it can be modern and complement the product we want for our guests when they come here,” he said. But Mr Crockwell added: “This is an issue of affordability. that is what is primarily driving the decisions of the Government and the options we are looking at.” He was speaking after Opposition MP Lawrence Scott, the shadow Minister for Tourism and Transport, introduced a motion to debate the advantages of establishing an Airport Authority to run the Island’s air terminal. The Shadow Transport Minister said the 43 jobs in the Department of Airport Operations would be put at risk if a public-private partnership assumed stewardship of Bermuda’s airport, telling the House such an investor would “get rid of them because they wouldn’t know them”. He added that privatization meant a profit-driven administration — and there was nothing to stop management giving themselves enormous salaries, while shedding workers. On the subject of an Airport Authority, Mr Scott said that “almost all” of the jurisdictions competing with Bermuda handled their visitors through an Airport Authority. Mr Crockwell said a number of methods could be used to get funding for the airport — including a public-private partnership, which would involve a private operator being given a 30-40 year lease to modernize and run the airport. And he said negotiations with any private investor could include negotiating protection for the existing Government-employed staff. Finance Minister Bob Richards added the airport was being “held together by Band-Aids. We need to have an airport that is consistent with the global brand which is Bermuda — a brand we hope denotes high quality and high services. If the Government can’t afford to build it ourselves, we going to have to get outside investors and that will require some kind of creativity — probably a public-private partnership of some sort.” But he ruled out and outright sell-off of the airport to a private body. Shadow Finance Minister said Government should not lose control of “a prized Government asset”. And Opposition leader Marc Bean added that any airport redevelopment should be done in tandem with improving access and replacing the ageing Causeway — although he said that the cost of that should be borne by the entire country, rather than the people of the east end of the Island.

June 9. Former Premier Ewart Brown and former Public Works Minister Derrick Burgess should not have used public funds to pursue their lawsuit, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found. However, acknowledging the unusual circumstances of the case, the PAC has agreed that the two men's' actions were in line with financial instructions because their suit was for a governmental purpose. The PAC document tabled in the House of Assembly by chairman David Burt of the Progressive Labour Party reviewed the Auditor Generals special report on the misuse of public funds, presented to Parliament two years ago. From September, 2013 to May of 2014, the Committee held nine meetings with the Auditor General and staff, as well as current and former public officers. The report did noted that a contract with the Canadian law firm hired by Dr Brown and Mr Burgess had been ratified by Cabinet. Government's retainer agreement with Lax O'Sullivan Partners was terminated in September, 2011. The main contention, the report continued, was how an action approved by Cabinet for the Bermuda Government ended as a lawsuit in their names. The two men launched legal action against architects Sam Spagnuolo and former Government Chief architect Lawrence Brady in a Canadian court, on allegations of defamation. They accused the two of trying to besmirch them by fabricating a plot to embroil them in a kickback scheme over the Dame Lois Browne Evans police and court building but the $2 million suit was dismissed last year by an Ontario judge. Auditor General Heather Jacob Matthews branded the use of public funds for a private legal action a direct violation of Financial Instructions. The PAC wasn't able to learn precisely by whom or when authorization was given for the legal action. Its report stated that the Justice Ministry told the Committee that the personal action had been the only means by which the Government could take action against those responsible for essentially attacking the Government via its Ministers. Government by itself couldn't be a plaintiff in a legal action. However, the PAC wasn't provided with legal or contractual evidence to support the assertion, which the report said allowed for the possibility for someone to personally benefit from the lawsuit. It added that the PAC wasn't accusing either man of seeking to profit, but maintained that no documentation had been provided to satisfy the dilemma. The PAC was also wholly dismayed by the unwillingness of the Attorney Generals Chambers to share information with the Auditor General and said the claim of privilege wasn't acceptable. Information should have been provided to Ms Matthews, the report added. Former AG Michael Scott was also taken to task for declining to provide additional details to the PAC. However, the PAC report didn't support the recommendation by Ms Matthews that the surcharged funds be paid back since the Committee accepted the explanation that Cabinet approved the funds under the view that it was spent for a government purpose. The group concluded that Government should look into reforming its financial instructions procedures to support a civil action taken on behalf of a Minister defamed while carrying out their duties. PAC recommends that the Government ensure that the Auditor General receives access to all Government files without delay, the report added.

June 9. A plan to refurbish or sell off Government-owned properties that are empty will provide value for money for taxpayers, it has been claimed. Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin revealed that Government had spent $11 million renting real estate to house administration offices 33 Government-owned properties are currently vacant. Responding to questions from Independent MP Terry Lister, Ms Gordon said that all empty properties were being assessed and prioritized as part of a property asset management plan. Most of these vacant buildings are in a poor state of repair and require refurbishment and capital expenditure before they can be occupied, Ms Gordon-Pamplin said. The property asset management plan will ensure that the Government's real estate is providing value for money for the Bermuda taxpayer. Currently, Government spends some $11 million to rent space from the private sector. The strategy is to identify those vacant properties that can be brought back into a habitable condition to provide quality accommodation for public service departments and to reduce the rental expenditure. In addition, where they can, vacant properties can be used to create innovative opportunities to stimulate wider economic growth for the Island. The Minister added: "if buildings were deemed no longer suitable as Government offices, they could either be rented out to the private sector or sold if the market is favorable. This action plan on vacant properties will be ready by the end of July this year and will set priorities for larger vacant buildings including the old Hamilton Police Station. Government architects are now working on options for this building and the Estates Department are identifying potential occupiers. Invitations to tender on some Government properties is underway, with the vacant Shelley Bay Beach House going out to tender today. Soon to follow next week will be see similar tender invitations being issued for Traditions restaurant in Southampton and others will follow.

June 9. Bermuda has been branded a notorious tax haven by a new report on the use of offshore financial centres by US corporations aiming to cut their US tax bill. The report, prepared by Richard Phillips and Steve Wamhoff of Citizens for Tax Justice and Dan Smith of the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund, is entitled Offshore Shell Games 2014: The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies. One graphic cites Bermuda at the top of a list, declaring that profits reported collectively by American multinational corporations to Bermuda in 2010 were about $94 billion money that if it had been reported as US income, would become taxable by the US Government. From Apple and American Express to Nike and Citigroup to Google and Microsoft, the report singles out companies for not paying as much in US taxes as they could, if they declared all of their worldwide income to the Internal Revenue Service. In a name and shame exercise over Americas largest companies, the reports executive summary claims: Many large US-based multinational corporations avoid paying US taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity. Congress has left loopholes in our tax code that allow this tax avoidance, which forces ordinary Americans to make up the difference. Every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid by using tax havens must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, cuts to public investments and public services, or increased federal debt. The report states that some 72 percent of the Fortune 500 companies maintain subsidiaries outside of the US. Most of the companies the report names as having subsidiaries in Bermuda, such as Illinois Tool Works, Stanley Black & Decker and Marriott International, have no working presence on the Island. However, some, like insurance and reinsurance broker Marsh & McLennan, which has 23 subsidiaries in Bermuda, generates genuine profits and employs people through its Island operations. While the reports authors describe Bermuda as a notorious tax haven, their view is not shared by the US government.

June 10. The cost of healthcare insurance dropped this year, new Health Minister Jeanne Atherden said yesterday. "This year, for the first time I can remember, the standard premium rate, which is the basic premium included in every insurance policy to cover in-patient and out-patient services at the hospital, went down." She added that the premium fell from more than $325 to $301.85 a drop of $23.99 or 7.4 percent. But the premiums for FutureCare the health plan for seniors went up by $10 a month (2.3 percent) to $450 a month, although the HIP scheme, the Government health insurance plan, remained the same at $390 a month. Ms Atherden added: This was achieved despite the Ministry having to reduce its budget by $17 million for the current fiscal year and cuts in subsidies to all insurance plans, including HIP and FutureCare. The Government recognizes that rising healthcare costs are a major concern for Bermuda as well as other countries. But last year Bermuda saw a leveling off of total health spending for the first time in over a decade. Despite this, the actual cost of services has continued to rise, so the Ministry remains focused on solutions that will contain costs and improve Bermudas health system by encouraging healthier lifestyles and reducing the utilization of, and the need for, expensive medical services. She added: "The HIP and FutureCare insurance plans continue to provide affordable and accessible healthcare coverage to Bermuda residents and include not only in-patient and outpatient hospitals benefits, but also doctor visits specialists and physicians as well as basic dental benefits." HIP coverage is available to all Bermuda residents above school-leaving age, while FutureCare covers people aged 65 or over.

June 10. Bermuda-born Dr. Duane Pitt and Lahey’s Dr. Robert Dolan will be the speakers on Thursday June 19 evening for “Docs for Dinner,” at Cafe Lido. Sponsored by Bermuda HealthCare Services and Brown-Darrell Clinic, “Docs for Dinner,” is a quarterly event. Thirty or more doctors are expected to attend the presentation and receive Continuing Medical Education credits. Dr. Pitt is President of the Desert Institute for Spine Disorder and the International Surgical Foundation in Arizona.  A fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, he specializes in disorders of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine in adolescents and adults. His focus is on both non-operative and operative treatments of spinal disorders, including degenerative, scoliosis, infections, stenosis and tumor. He is trained in Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery for all types of spine disorders and utilizes traditional and state of the art surgical techniques such as artificial disc replacement, microdiscectomy, minimally invasive spinal fusions, thoroscopic scoliosis fusions, as well as many others. Dr. Dolan is the Vice Chairman, Division of Surgery, Chairman, Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, Director, Disease Oriented Work Group for Head and Neck Cancer Sophia Gordon Cancer Center at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. Lahey Clinic Hospital, Inc. designates this live activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 creditsTM. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. For further information on “Docs for Dinner,” please contact the Brown-Darrell Clinic on 297-3332.

June 10.  Filipinos in Bermuda are treated like indentured servants, taken advantage of, and discriminated against because of their nationality. This according to sources who spoke with The Royal Gazette following a recent case in which a Bermudian man was charged with racially harassing and assaulting a Filipino. Although the case has yet to go to trial, xenophobia, said one Filipina woman, "is alive and well in Bermuda." Despite living on the Island for 14 years with her Bermudian husband, the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she has faced abuse from the day she arrived. They say things like, "You're in Bermuda just to earn dollars. In other words, they're trying to tell me that I am just using my husband so I can work. Honestly, when my husband came to my country to marry me, I had no idea what my life would be like in Bermuda."

June 10. An Electoral Commission could settle arguments over whether election candidates are eligible to take their seats in Parliament, a civil liberties group said last night. And the Centre for Justice pledged to draw up a list of proposals to restructure the election process by the end of the year. The group was drafted in by a Parliamentary select committee, drawn from members of both main parties, to help decide whether MPs, who had not declared an interest in Government contracts after being nominated as candidates, were eligible to sit in the House of Assembly. The Centre said that, under current rules, the only way to sanction a candidate for breach of an obligation, like the requirement for disclosure of business links with Government, is to file a petition under a 1968 law with Supreme Court within 28 days of the return of the writ of election. "Unfortunately, such proceedings are cumbersome and costly. They are also not proactive as they can only be issued after a candidate is elected a Member of Parliament. In addition, this Act also requires the petition to be served on the Attorney General. This could raise questions of fairness where the Attorney General is a political appointment under the Constitution. Enforcement of requirements pertaining to electoral candidates, including the obligation to disclose an interest in a Government contract, could be by way of an independent non-partisan Electoral Commission. We would expect the Commission to be given a wide range of powers to receive complaints, inquire as appropriate and sanction offending parties." The Centre for Justice said that the requirement to disclose business links with Government should also be prominently placed on the nomination papers candidates must submit to take part in an electoral campaign. The statement came after the Centre got an opinion from English QC James Goudie, which said that under the Constitution, disclosure should be made, subject to the exemptions and limitations contained in legislation which should be interpreted narrowly so as to detract to the minimum extent possibly from the dominant requirement. "Justification for any lack of transparency must be clearly demonstrated. The 1968 legislation should be amended to remove any ambiguity. The amendments should include enforcement provisions, in particular, by whom and how the requirements are to be policed and enforced."

June 11. Acclaimed diver and explorer Teddy Tucker, born in Bermuda in 1925, whose treasure-hunting exploits inspired books and a Hollywood film and brought him worldwide fame, has died at the age of 89. Premier Michael Dunkley last night hailed him as “one of the great Bermudians of our time.” Mr Tucker discovered more than 100 shipwrecks in Bermuda waters, and was a founding member of the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI). His friend and author, the late Peter Benchley, once described Mr Tucker as the man who “brought the world to Bermuda, and Bermuda to the world.” His adventures inspired the Jaws author to write his second novel The Deep, which in 1977 was filmed in Bermuda and included Mr Tucker in the cast. Sources close to the family told The Royal Gazette that Mr Tucker passed away on Monday afternoon in Somerset. His maritime career, which began with his first job at the Bermuda Aquarium, made international headlines in 1955 when he discovered one of the most precious treasures ever recovered from the sea.

Tucker Cross found by Teddy Tucker

Dubbed the Tucker Cross, the gold and emerald crucifix, taken from the Spanish wreck San Pedro, was featured on the cover of Life magazine. “I picked it up, and the sun hit the emeralds,” Mr Tucker later recalled of his discovery. “It was just like they had lights in them.” The Tucker Cross was an international attraction until 1975, when it was noticed that it had been stolen and switched with a replica. It has remained an unsolved mystery but it is felt the expertise of the theft and substitution by a replica may have been the work of a professional. Mr Tucker found the San Pedro wreck in tandem with Smithsonian Institution curator Mendel Peterson, with whom he collaborated on the grid method of underwater archaeology. He also discovered the six-gilled shark in local waters and, in 1983, helped found the Beebe Project, dedicated to the study of deep-sea life. His friend and fellow diver, former Premier David Saul, said the Island had lost “a true national treasure” with his passing. “Teddy Tucker was recognized as one of the fathers of modern marine archaeology, and was revered by scientists, academics and divers on every continent,” Dr Saul said. “If it had not been for the Second World War, in which he served in the navy and was an underwater demolition expert, he would have made a phenomenal university professor: his knowledge of ships, history, dates and numbers was incredible — one could literally spend all day and night, as I have done on all-night fishing trips, just listening to his stories. His marine knowledge, including fish big and small, from invertebrates to whales, was encyclopedic.” Dr Saul added: “It is a little-known fact that Teddy earned, over a five-year period after the war, more foreign exchange for the Government of Bermuda than all international business and tourism combined. He had been contracted by the Treasury to collect as much scrap metal from ships that had been wrecked around Bermuda over the previous decades. The amount of copper, brass and other metals that he raised earned millions for Bermuda — a critical contribution to the local economy at a very difficult time. “What was in that man’s head was astonishing. He is a great loss to the Island. My heart goes out to his wife Edna, and his daughter Wendy at this sad time.” Born on May 8, 1925, Edward Bolton Tucker grew up by the waterside at Hamilton Harbour and Mangrove Bay, and began diving on shipwrecks locally and internationally in the late 1940s. “His father, mother and uncles had a keen interest in the ocean, which led him to working at the Aquarium,” said Wendy Tucker. “He was a very special father, because he included me in his marine world for as long as I can remember — which made me very lucky. I traveled with him on many of his overseas projects.” In the early days, she said, she and her mother were often “the only females on the boat. It was a very different era than today, and my father made sure that we were included He had an excellent memory and a wonderful sense of humor that all ages could appreciate. He never lost his vitality or enthusiasm for what he did and it became infectious. His experience from years of research and traveling around the world as a young man, gave him an insight into both the sea and land environment that most people do not experience or appreciate.” As Mr Tucker’s reputation flourished, his West End home became a gathering spot for visiting scientists. He appeared frequently in the pages of National Geographic magazine, which covered the Beebe Project’s discoveries. According to his daughter, Mr Tucker most recent work with National Geographic was last year. “They are expected to come down in a couple of weeks to complete the project and I will assist in any way I can,” Ms Tucker added. “He was also working with the Geological Survey of Canada on the Bermuda Sea Level Rise and we hope to continue that with a meeting in October.” Premier Mr Dunkley said: “Teddy, as he was known to everyone, was a Bermudian original whose adventurous life and profound knowledge of the waters around Bermuda brought worldwide attention to the Island for more than six decades. “Mr Tucker’s accomplishments were almost incredible in their breadth. He was a sailor, diver, explorer, treasure hunter, lecturer, archaeologist, historian and author. He was also an extraordinarily successful promoter of Bermuda’s history, culture and character, inspiring Hollywood films, best-selling novels and articles in major magazines from National Geographic to Life. Mr Tucker’s amazing knowledge of Bermuda’s waters began with his first jobs as a boy aboard local fishing boats and never stopped. He inspired writers and scientists, schoolchildren and students. He was always approachable and ready to work with the curious, imparting his first-hand knowledge with simplicity, precision and enthusiasm. Teddy Tucker enriched the life of Bermuda and brought the most positive worldwide attention to the Island. He made us proud to be Bermudian.” Mr Tucker was a member of the Explorers Club, as well as a Charter Member of the Hellenic Institute of Marine Archaeology. In 1991 he was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Underwater Society of America, and he was awarded the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal in 1994 by the Queen. In 2000, the New York Explorers’ Club awarded Mr Tucker with the Lowell Thomas Award. A BUEI spokeswoman said the organization wouldn’t exist without Mr Tucker, adding: “We’ll miss him and our hearts go out to his family.” And Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences president Bill Curry said: “It is with a sad heart that we acknowledge the passing of Teddy Tucker, Bermuda’s most renowned explorer and globally recognized historian, artist, and lecturer.” Ms Tucker said her father had requested “no funeral or memorial — and my mother and I are respecting his wishes. He lived his life to the fullest and made each day count.” Teddy Tucker’s swaggering air and boisterous manner could not help but summon up storybook images of sea rovers and swashbucklers. And certainly the treasure trove of drowned Spanish gold and silver that he recovered from Bermuda’s waters in the 1950s was the very stuff pirates’ dreams were made of. His natural exuberance and high spirits charmed all who knew him. A huge part of the pleasure for all those who shared a boat ride or dived with Teddy Tucker, A master raconteur, he would finish a story with bell-like laughter that lit up the face of everyone within earshot”. However, his seemingly carefree demeanor could sometimes distract from his complexity of mind and seriousness of purpose. American novelist Peter Benchley, his close friend and protégé, famously described Tucker as “a walking encyclopedia and one of the great autodidacts in the history of science — a self-taught expert on ships, coins, nautical history, underwater archaeology, painting and glassware”. Benchley had met Tucker by chance while in Bermuda for a 1971 National Geographic story assignment. He quickly fell under his spell, becoming a close friend, ardent disciple and, ultimately, best-selling populariser of the Tucker legend. The Bermudian adventurer served as both model and muse for Benchley’s 1976 novel The Deep, a tale of sunken treasures and latter-day freebooting set in local waters — the grizzled shark fisherman Quint in Benchley’s breakthrough 1974 book Jaws also bore a more than passing resemblance to Tucker. The success of that novel, along with the blockbuster film adaptation of The Deep released the next year, brought Tucker and his pioneering undersea work to the attention of an international audience and made his name synonymous with treasure hunting.

June 11. AXIS Capital has donated $1 million to the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust (BHCT), bringing the group’s funds to $31 million. The new acute care wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital will require a $40 million payout to contractors Paget Health Services upon its completion. The “Why it Matters” campaign by the BHCT has been raising money since April 2011, and is now in what executive director Ralph Richardson called “the home stretch”. AXIS chief executive officer Albert Benchimol said the company was committed to helping deliver “deliver enhanced and affordable healthcare” to the community. Thanking the company, BHCT chairman Philip Butterfield said the donation put the campaign “one step closer to achieving our goal of providing a world class standard of excellent healthcare through modernized facilities”.

June 12.  An American oncologist hired two years ago to lead Bermuda Hospitals Board's cancer services is to exit the Island in September and is currently on sick leave, leaving only part-time doctors to cover his absence. The departure of Paul Coty from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital raises concerns for Bermuda's cancer sufferers, according to a source, who yesterday questioned how quickly a replacement would be found and how appointments would be covered in the meantime. Dr Coty, originally from New York, came to Bermuda in February 2012 as KEMH's only full-time oncologist, after spending eight years in Hawaii. A BHB spokeswoman confirmed to The Royal Gazette yesterday that he was due to leave the hospital in September and said his position was advertised many months ago. 

June 13. Prostate cancer patients could face delays in getting diagnosed and treated when one of only two urologists leaves Bermuda at the end of this month. Dr Suren de Zylva joined Dr Charles Dyer's urology practice last September, but will return to the UK after less than ten months on the Island. And a source at the practice said the departure will create a backlog of patients getting screened and treated for prostate cancer and a host of urological conditions. Dr Dyer, who is believed to be in his mid-70s, is said to have gone into semi-retirement after recruiting Dr de Zylva and now works just three days a week. Yesterday The Royal Gazette revealed that oncologist Dr Paul Coty, brought in by the Bermuda Hospitals Board two years ago to lead its cancer services, was currently on sick leave and is also preparing to quit the Island, leaving only part-time doctors to cover his absence. Last night the source at Dr Dyer's practice said the office was swamped with patients, and that Dr de Zylva had managed to reduce waiting lists during his short stint. "My concern is that there's such a high demand for urologists here. It's not just prostate patients that are seen, there are people with bladder and kidney and renal issues. For example, so many Bermudians seem to suffer from kidney stones." The source, who asked not to be named, said that patients had had to wait for up to six weeks before Dr de Zylva was appointed, but that figure had since been reduced. "Dr Dyer is now semi-retired. he's slowed down a lot since Dr de Zylva arrived. When Dr de Zylva leaves it's going to be a case of waiting list-plus. We're going to go right back to how it was before." Dr Dyer and Dr de Zylva could not be contacted for comment last night.

June 13. The Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) officially received the key to the new Acute Care Wing yesterday in a ceremony at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. Final building work at the site is still ongoing but BHB CEO Venetta Symonds said the event marked a key point in preparing the facility for its grand opening in September. “Having the key allows our engineers to now come in and do connecting work and it allows contractors to fine tune everything in the building,” she said. “Staff also need to get oriented and training so that we have a smooth move over in September when we open to the public. The 90 beds in the new building will replace beds in the old building and will be used for everyone in need of medical or surgical care.” In addition to the new acute care beds, the new wing will house emergency, diagnostic imaging — specifically the x-ray, ultrasound, MRI and CT scanning equipment — day surgery, dialysis and oncology. Around $300 million have been spent on the project to date, between the construction and design costs paid by Paget Health Services and the sum BHB has paid for equipment. BHB Chairman Jonathan Brewin said the project has remained on budget, as the payments and costs were set out when the contract was signed. The Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust, who set out in April 2011 to raise $40 million through the Why It Matters campaign, has so far raised around $31 million of its goal. Alan Burland of BCM McAlpine said he was very proud of the project, calling it both a key pillar for Bermuda and a demonstration of the potential of public-private partnerships on the Island. “This has been a huge achievement,” he said. “This is the largest project ever done in Bermuda. This has truly been a massive and effective team effort, and I have to stress team. It’s a rich blend of locals and expatriates that brought this to fruition. We couldn’t have done it without the combined team, and you should all be justly proud. It demonstrates world class infrastructure, and is really unrivalled on any other Island.” Premier Michael Dunkley described the handover as a milestone for Bermuda, saying: “It’s a day which marks a pivotal moment in the history of healthcare on the Island.” He thanked all of those who have worked to make the new facility a reality, saying that the project took a lot of planning, preparation and skilled labour to bring to fruition. And newly named Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment Jeanne Atherden said: “It was just a few weeks ago that I was a member of the board and so I’m well informed of the need for this facility and it’s importance for the healthcare of Bermuda. This is an important milestone but I must remind you that this is not the end of the journey. There is still serious work to be done and in the next three months we have to ensure that there’s a safe and seamless transition of patients and services and we have to prepare the staff for the new standards of care that the BHB will be able to give to patients at this new facility.”

June 13. Nearly 200 yachts are set to sail in the 49th Newport Bermuda Race - see http://bermudarace.com/2014-race/ among them three that will be from the Island. Among the trio of local entries are Crossfire, Nasty Medicine and Spirit of Bermuda. Crossfire, a J-125, is helmed by Brian Hillier, and is competing in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division. Nasty Medicine, a Corby 41.5, is competing in the St David's Lighthouse Division and is helmed by Dr Stephen Sherwin. Spirit of Bermuda, a triple-masted sloop, is competing in the Spirit of Tradition Division with Karen McDonald, the ship's first female captain, at the helm. The sail training ship took part in the previous 635-mile race and was awarded a citation by the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee for exemplary seamanship for assisting in a medical emergency aboard another yacht. In total, there are 165 yachts competing, the same amount that registered for the 2012 race from Castle Hill, Newport, Rhode Island to St David's, Bermuda. The race starts on June 20. The Newport Bermuda Race is organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and sailed almost entirely out of sight of land and across the Gulf Stream. The race consists of five divisions: St David's Lighthouse Division, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, Cruiser Division, Double Handed Division and Spirit of Tradition Division. No boats have entered the Open Division for racing boats with canting keels. The St David's Lighthouse Division, for multi-purpose cruising/racing yachts, is the largest division with one hundred entries and is one of the races three divisions that have seen an increase in entries this year. Returning are the top five boats in the division standings from the last race, including the 2010 and 2012 St David's Lighthouse Trophy winner, Carina, helmed by Rives Potts. No boat has been involved in or has more Newport Bermuda Race titles than Carina. Two-times St David's Lighthouse Division winner, Sinn Fein, which was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, is among this year's fleet. There had been concern that the Cal 40 would never sail again after being ravaged by the hurricane. But the boat has since been rebuilt and is raring to add to its impressive legacy in the race. More than 100 prizes will be awarded at the traditional ceremony at Bermudas Government House on June 28. Among the new awards this year are Regional Prizes presented to the top boats hailing from five regions of North America. Twenty-one states from Maine to California are represented in the fleet, with especially strong turnouts from New England and the Chesapeake Bay area. The 16 entries from outside the United States include one boat each from Austria, Germany, Russia, and Spain; three from Bermuda; four boats from the UK; and five boats from Canada.

June 13. Clarien Bank Limited named former US Consul General to Bermuda, Gregory Slayton, to its board as an independent director. The bank said in a statement that his appointment is consistent with Clarien's strategy for achieving international growth and a position of financial services leadership while maintaining a strong Bermuda market presence. Since 2009, Mr. Slayton has served as Managing Director of Slayton Capital, a private venture capital firm active in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. He is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, and a visiting lecturer at the Dartmouth, Harvard and Stanford business schools. "With his many relationships and experience in the Far East as well as proven track record in the investment arena, Gregory is an excellent addition to the Clarien Board," said bank chairman Keith Stock. "His familiarity with and international advocacy for Bermuda are distinguishing characteristics that will benefit Clarien immensely." Mr. Slayton served as the United States Chief of Mission to Bermuda from 2005 to 2009. Prior to serving as American Consul General, Mr. Slayton was active as a principal investor in emerging growth, Silicon Valley, US companies such as Google, Oakley Networks and Salesforce.com. He also served as president and CEO of ClickAction Inc. and MySoftware, as well as president of Paragraph International and senior vice president, CFO and co-founder of Worlds, Inc. Earlier in his career, Mr. Slayton served as CFO of Paramount Technology Group and as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in its Buenos Aires, Paris and New York offices. Mr. Slayton is Chairman of the Slayton Family Foundation, the Fellowship of Fathers Foundations, and a director of numerous other organisations. He earned a BA in economics as well as a Masters in Asian studies from Dartmouth College and an Honors MBA from the Harvard Business School. Mr. Slayton joins current presiding Board Directors Buford Alexander, Michael Quinn, James Gibbons, James Macdonald, Andrew Parsons and C.H. (Hal) Masters and Chairman Stock.

June 13. A new chapter in tourism begins next week as the Tourism Authority lays the foundation of a new approach to hospitality investment. The Authority, an independent, non-government entity engaged to revive Bermuda tourism, is to be powered by four divisions: tourism investment, product and experience, sales and marketing and corporate support functions. Banker Roland Andy Burrows has been appointed chief investment officer, with responsibilities related to future investment in tourism infrastructure. He takes up his new responsibilities on Tuesday. A statement from the Bermuda Tourism Authority said he will be involved in redefining the future for investment in the tourism industry. "We're thrilled to have a talented and well-respected Bermudian lead this division which, while new to Bermuda, will be the cornerstone of our modern approach to hospitality investment," said BTA Chairman, David Dodwell. "Investment equates to jobs and a stronger economy, and its a crucial mandate of the BTA." After 25 years in financial services, business strategy and development, Mr Burrows moves over from HSBC Bermuda, where he was Head of Commercial Banking. At the bank he led, initiated and implemented compliance, operational and credit risk and regulatory policies for Corporate Banking, Business Banking and Real Estate Banking. In his new role, he will be responsible for identifying, developing and cultivating investment across the hospitality industry, from hotels and attractions, to infrastructure and tourism related businesses. Mr Burrows will assist in the formulation of development and investment incentives specific to Bermuda and inform global investors in key areas such as taxation, work force, immigration, customs, infrastructure, development permits, and sustainability. In addition, hell lead international capital raising efforts to attract investment to Bermuda tourism by identifying, qualifying and establishing new sources of equity and debt financing investors on an ongoing basis. "The importance of this position can't be overstated," said Bill Hanbury, BTA CEO. "Andy will continue to develop and monitor the red carpet and one-stop shop approach to attracting global hospitality and leisure investors and developers to Bermuda. And, whether its international or local development, hell move investment projects through government channels and approvals. On the local side, Mr Burrows will develop and drive financial and growth strategies for existing businesses and properties, including renovations and asset repositioning projects such as hotel room capital expenditures. This extends to strategies designed to stimulate small and medium businesses related to tourism. Mr Burrows has managed balance sheets up to $12 billion while generating revenues of up to $100 million at HSBC. He holds a Bachelors of Business Administration Degree in Accounting from Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia."

June 13. A proposal to drag Belco power generation into the 21st century could eventually cost half a billion dollars, the company said in an interview yesterday. It would include, in one of the first stages, an ambitious multiyear plan to begin mounting solar panels on Bermuda homes for hot water heaters — targeting 1000 a year. It would eventually, perhaps in the fifth year, also include the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel, removing the need for importing expensive oil. Belco uses a million barrels of oil a year, at an annual cost of $150 million — 55 percent of the total cost of running the utility — including $15 million in government duty. Belco’s parent company, Ascendant Group Limited, has an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that they say would generate a host of skilled and unskilled jobs, improve Bermuda’s balance of payments, reduce our carbon footprint, conserve energy, reduce pollution and contain household electricity costs. At present, there is no regulatory framework in Bermuda that would allow Ascendant’s plan to proceed. The current regulatory regime, suitable in the past, will have to be discarded for a far more sophisticated administration. And legislative changes are required before the appropriate framework will be put in place. Ascendant’s President and CEO Walter M Higgins, told The Royal Gazette, “The government is committed to putting the right regulatory regime in place. They indicated that commitment in the Throne Speech last year. They want a 21st century regime in place that is in line with world standards to regulate the electric utility. Standard regulation today, allowing for our substantial costs to be recovered and accumulated in certain ways, is exactly what lenders will look for when they consider lending money to us to do this work.” While the scheme to replace the current technology is pending, officials concede that they are not just faced with dated technology, but a facility that includes engines that are coming to the end of their useful life — and at least one which should have already been retired. While in an ideal world, the company should have begun upgrading years ago, they know there is no time like the present. Mr Higgins said, “The challenge Bermuda faces today is an ageing generating infrastructure with the engines near the end of their life, on average. Some of them are past the end of life. We have an oil burning infrastructure with all of the things that you can imagine are good and bad about that — highly transportable, highly dense, energy dense fuel. But it’s dirty. There is an issue if it is spilled. There’s sulphur in it, so there is a certain amount of pollution that comes out of those stacks. Soot can be a problem. We have to deal with it very carefully. And carbon dioxide, which is a world problem according to a lot of people, is also emitted in large quantities when you burn diesel or heavy oil like we do. And the third part of this is that every gallon of oil coming into this Island has to be paid for with money which is hard-earned by sending some product or service of value off the island. That must be one of the things that make (Finance Minister) Bob Richard’s life hard. We are about cash-outflow when the Minister is trying to get product outflow and cash inflow.”

June 13. Government has launched a last-minute appeal to a landmark ruling which enabled two Permanent Residents Certificate (PRC) holders to obtain Bermuda status. And according to Attorney General Trevor Moniz, the Department of Immigration has been inundated with applications from residents seeking status since last months decision by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley. Mr Justice Kawaley upheld an earlier ruling by the independent Immigration Appeal Tribunal, which directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to grant applications for Bermuda status by long-standing PRCs Rebecca Carne and Antonio Correia. Status was granted under section 20B of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956. Outlining Government's reasons for the appeal, Mr Moniz said that the two applicants had been advised correctly in 2012 that there was no procedure to submit a request for status under the 20B section of the Act but that amendments to the law had created this unique circumstance. In spite of this advice, applications were subsequently submitted to the Minister in 2013 at which time the Minister rejected the applications on the basis that there had been no pre-approval for Bermudian status under the Act, Mr Moniz said. Notwithstanding, the Ministers decision was overturned by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal (the IAT) with the matter eventually being appealed in the Supreme Court in January of 2014 with the Chief Justice ruling in favour of the applicants and stating in his summation, the decision of the IAT directing the Minister to grant the Respondents applications for Bermudian status is accordingly affirmed. This judgment now meant under the current legislation, a pathway to status for PRC holders was now possible. In essence, the Supreme Court ruling says that if a PRC holder submits an application for naturalization to become a British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) (Bermuda) to the Department of Immigration at the same time he/she submits an application for Bermudian status under Section 20B (2)(b) of the Act, and the Minister supports the naturalization application which is subsequently approved by the Governor, the Minister must, save for various circumstances as set out in the Act, grant the applicant Bermudian status under the said section. And while this provision has existed for many years, it only came to light as a result of the original PRC legislation which would appear the previous Administration did not grasp the fact that provisions in the Act that were amended in 1994 would have this effect upon the introduction of PRC legislation in 2001. In essence, the PRC legislation has seemingly created this unique circumstance. Mr Moniz said that a flood of status applications had been made in the last month, with 115 residents becoming naturalized. Mr Moniz added that a further 1,340 residents were eligible to make an application for naturalization. Notwithstanding the anomaly in the legislation, the Ministry has sought the advice from a the Attorney-Generals Chambers as well as a Queens Counsel in the United Kingdom on the merits of appealing the Supreme Court judgment, Mr Moniz said. Whilst the advice received following an exhaustive review of this judgment by the aforementioned Counsel was not entirely favorable as far as the judgment being successfully overturned, the Ministry has nonetheless filed an appeal in this matter to the Court of Appeal which will allow the opportunity for further Government review of the matter.

June 13. Public bodies will be forced to provide full details of financial transactions under proposed new laws. Speaking in the House of Assembly this morning, Premier Michael Dunkley said Government was “committed to keeping its financial affairs and those of public bodies and authorities, open and transparent”, but that current legislation meant some public bodies did not have to be fully accountable. While expenditure data for Government Departments is readily disclosed and information inclusive of salaries, grants, and contributions is available to the public, the same level of disclosure does not apply to all public bodies and authorities,” Mr Dunkley told MPs. "A preliminary review of the legislation that governs the operation of different public bodies and authorities highlights significant inconsistencies as it relates to the requirement for disclosure. While most public bodies and authorities are required to provide annual reports, the level of detail is not always as useful as the public requires in order to be fully informed.” Mr Dunkley said that, in certain cases, Government Ministers did not have the authority to demand specific details relating to the financial accounts of some groups. As a result, some bodies are only required to submit annual accounts “which does not itemize the specifics of the expenditure. The Government will amend the Public Treasury (Administration and Payments) Act 1969 to require all Government Departments and public authorities to provide very specific aspects of information relating to the accounts of these bodies. Under these provisions, information such as the salaries for senior executive officers of the public authorities will be made available as a part of the consolidated financial statements. In other instances, the Government will implement policies that mandate, via contractual agreement, the public disclosure of similar financial information as a requirement for grant funding. Such policies will ensure that where public funds are being used to underwrite the cost of operations, information regarding salaries, sponsorships, and other contributions is publicly available. This Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy to disclose information so that the public is informed. The same principle will apply to public bodies and authorities.”

June 13. A US developer and advisor for the Ariel Sands redevelopment project is cautiously optimistic about its progress. Lou Maroun said work to revive the Devonshire property was a project in motion and that movie star Michael Douglas, a part-owner of the site, visited regularly to discuss the plans. "He comes back and forth very frequently to discuss the development of the project," Mr Maroun said. "The thing progresses every week. It's a project in motion and we wont know how much progress we've made until the final stages, but right now we're cautiously optimistic. I can only give the broadest range on the price right now we're only just looking at designs." Mr Maroun added that the developers did not yet know when the project would be finished. Mr Douglas posted a photo of himself at the property to Facebook on Monday. The caption read: "In Bermuda, working on building my family's new hotel at Ariel Sands. It is going to be great." The actor, son of Bermudian Diana Dill, co-owns the property with members of the Dill family. He and his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones lived in Bermuda for several years. Ariel Sands Beach Club opened in 1954 but closed in 2008 and the land has been vacant ever since. The photo of Mr Douglas at the site this week has attracted more than 51,000 likes and been shared 1,700 times.

June 13. Work has started on restoring the abandoned Admiralty House ballroom in Pembroke. The Department of Parks and Digicel have teamed up on the project. The clearing of overgrown vegetation and garbage by Parks workers and Digicel staff is underway. "Admiralty House is one of Bermuda's treasures," said Digicel Bermuda CEO, Wayne Caines. "I remember coming to weddings here in my youth. Unfortunately, the ballroom has fallen into disrepair and needs much work to be restored; today is only the beginning. Digicel is honoured to help the Parks Department with making this area cleaner and safer." The project will go through several processes. "Right now, we are clearing the area around the building. Next we will clean out the building itself, remove the graffiti and then board up the windows and door entrances to prevent further trespassing." Admiralty House was originally set up as a signal centre by the British Royal Navy during the Second World War, intercepting coded messages from ships sailing between the US and UK and passing the messages on to the Royal Naval Dockyard. Once the British left the Island in 1951 and the property was given back to the Bermuda Government, the primary Admiralty House building was abandoned and later demolished, leaving only the ballroom behind.

June 17. Bus drivers walked out this morning after what a Government spokesman said were plumbing issues. There has been no word when the service would resume. The spokesman said: "The Department of Public Transportation (DPT) bus operators have stopped work this morning due to plumbing issues at the St. Georges depot and DPT headquarters in Devonshire. DPT management is working with Works and Engineering to fix the problem as quickly as possible and an update on progress, and an advisory on when bus service will resume, will be sent as soon as more information is available.

June 17. Bermuda has again been singled out and labeled a tax haven by US legislators as they last week attached an amendment to US federal funding measures, seeking to block federal contracts to former American companies involved in corporate inversions. A leading publisher of financial information, Bankrate Inc, reported at Bankrate.com the effort to make it harder for certain tax haven companies to do business with Uncle Sam was sponsored by two House Democrats, Rep Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Rep Lloyd Doggett of Texas. In a statement announcing the full House approval of the amendment, Rep Doggett said, "Some companies send their tax dollars to support our infrastructure and military, while others just send a post card that says, You can find me in Bermuda or the Caymans. Glad you are not here." Co-sponsor Rep DeLauro also decried the US services that these offshore companies get while he said they avoided paying for them with taxes. He said in a joint statement with Rep Doggett, "The profits Fortune 500 companies claim were earned in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands in 2010 totaled over 1,600 percent of these countries entire yearly economic output. It defies logic to believe these companies conducted such a large amount of business there. They take advantage of our education system, our research and development incentives, our skilled workforce, and our infrastructure, all supported by US taxpayers, to build their businesses, and then turn around and abuse tax havens. These companies should not be allowed to pretend they are an American company when it is time to get federal contracts, then claim to be an offshore company when the tax bill comes." The restriction on federal contracts would apply only to the 2015 fiscal year, which runs from this October 1 to September 30, 2015. It also must make it through the Senate. That chambers Transportation, et al, funding measure, S 2438, is awaiting consideration by the full Senate. If any differences with the House bill aren't worked out then, the two bills must go through a conference committee. The good news is that Congress appears to be committed to finishing funding bills before the 2015 fiscal year begins. However, its less clear as to whether companies that are taking advantage of legal tax haven opportunities will suffer at least a little in the legislative process. The amendment was added to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2015 (THUD) also known as HR 4745. Amendments are often pushed through the US legislature, sometimes without debate, by attaching them to a piece of less controversial House legislation.

June 17. A total of five firms tendered for the redevelopment of the Club Med site in St Georges, MPs have heard. But Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell declined to name the losing finalist in a contest which saw the field whittled down to two before the Venezuelan Desarrollos Hotelco Group won. "As we have entered into a 120-day exclusivity period with a chosen developer, it would be inappropriate to disclose the name of the other short listed developer during this period," he said. And he explained that if there were problems with the Desarrallos deal the second developer could be called on to take over. Mr Crockwell said: "To disclose the name of the finalist at this stage may unduly prejudice the Government's position." He was speaking after St David's PLP MP Lovitta Foggo asked a series of questions relating to the deal, announced last month. Ms Foggo also asked why Desarrollos had been given a four-month exclusivity period for negotiations and when that time slot would expire. Mr Crockwell said: "The Desarrollos Hotelco Group is a reputable company with a proven track record of success with hotel developments in the Caribbean. They have strong relationships with high end hotel brands and their proposal was well-aligned with the objectives that were set out in the request for proposals (RFP) augmented by a very good oral presentation. The 120-day period was a specific requirement set out by us in the RFP and is a reasonable period of time to allow the chosen developer and the Government to reach a conclusion in the process." The other companies that submitted unsuccessful bids were the Ellipse Consortium, Dolphin Capital Partners, Jambo/Chef and Sutton Park Partners. Shadow Finance Minister David Burt questioned why Desarallos did not appear to have an online presence although an internet search does throw up references to a number of deals the firm has been involved in, including the development of a five star resort in Aruba. Mr Crockwell said the lack of online information in this day and age is unusual but that it was not a cause for concern.

June 20. Thousands were stranded in Dockyard yesterday as the mornings sudden suspension of ferries upset the plans of visitors. Carrying 6,000 passengers between them, and a further 3,000 crew, the Norwegian Breakaway and Celebrity Summit were taken by surprise. "Bermuda will take a hit for this," one Summit passenger from Virginia said, identifying himself simply as an Exxon Mobil executive. "If my company did something like this they'd be out of business. There are plenty of corporate people here on vacation. You don't think they'll go back and tell their friends that Bermuda's great so long as the ferry's running?" Tourism ambassadors and public transport staff moved swiftly to organize alternative transport, but queues of hundreds piled up outside Heritage Wharf as buses immediately filled.

June 20. See see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Commonwealth_Games. The 2014 Games will be held from July 23 to August 3.  Bermuda has a strong 18-member team in this 2014 event from July 23 to August 3 held every four years, this time in Glasgow, Scotland. The team, selected by the Bermuda Olympic Association, has hopes of winning a medal or two. The athletes will represent six sports, with top triathletes Tyler Butterfield and Flora Duffy leading the Island's hopes of a first medal at the Games since Clarence Saunders, the high jumper, claimed a gold medal in 1990 in Auckland, New Zealand. The team will be made up of four triathletes, with Tucker Murphy and Jonathan Herring joining Butterfield and Duffy, while there is also a six-member track and field team led by Arantxa King, Shianne Smith, Aaron Evans, Tre Houston, Tyrone Smith and Shaquille Dill. Nicole Mitchell and Dominique Mayho will represent Bermuda in cycling, Gemma Lightbourne the lone gymnast, Micah Franklin, Robert Maycock and Nicholas Kyme make up the squash contingent along with swimmers Julian Fletcher and Dominique Mayho. Judy Simons, the BOA president, expressed confidence that the team will represent Bermuda well in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3. Bermuda first competed in the Commonwealth Games in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada, and have only missed four editions. Bermuda's first medal came in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1966 with a silver medal for John Morbey in the men's long jump final. The 1990 Games in Auckland produced the first gold for Bermuda when Saunders jumped a Commonwealth record 2.36 metres, a record that still stands. The 2014 team is supported by ten officials and a medical team of three under Stan Douglas, the chef de mission. The officials include Robert Oliver, Troy Douglas, head coach, and physio Sandro Fubler for track and field, Peter Dunne and Philip Trussell for cycling, Amanda Baughman for gymnastics, Runa Reta for squash, Ben Smith for swimming and Steven Petty and one yet to be named official for triathlon. The medical staff include physio Maureen Ryan and massage therapists Richard Johnson and Seth Pearman. Earl Basden will travel as the press attaché.

July

July 9.  Developer Par-la-Ville Hotel & Residences Ltd entered into a credit agreement with Bermuda-based Mexico Infrastructure Finance Ltd (MIF) to borrow $18 million for a proposed hotel development in Hamilton. On the same date, the Corporation of Hamilton entered into a guarantee of the loan and, as security for that guarantee, it provided MIF with a first mortgage over the Par-la-Ville parking lot. (That loan was later recalled, leaving the corporation liable for the $18 million owed to MIF with interest of about $3,450 a day).

August

August 8. An international organization has confirmed the accuracy of Government’s testing of South Shore waters, stating that trends indicate the waters are safe for recreational use. Representatives for the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) were contacted by the Government in June to conduct an independent study of the water quality around the Island’s beaches and ensure the reliability of the Department of Health’s weekly water quality results. Dr Lisa Indar, of CARPHA, said that after analyzing the Department’s sampling and analytical methods and independently testing water samples, the organization found the sampling methods were in compliance with standards and the laboratory results from both bodies were similar. She also noted that a historical review of sample sites indicated that recreational areas were safe and fit for use, generally meeting the US EPA requirements. 

August 11. A new conference aimed at the trust industry will come to Bermuda next year. IBC Global Conferences will host the first “Transcontinental Trust: Bermuda Forum” at the Fairmont Southampton on April 27 and 28, 2015. The conference is expected to draw senior trust practitioners and lawyers from around the world. The event came about after a delegation from Bermuda attended the Transcontinental Trust Conference in Geneva in June. Some of Bermuda’s trust industry leaders participated in an in-depth discussion on “Examining How International Financial Centres Adapt, Survive and Thrive”. The session was led by Vanessa Schrum, partner at Appleby, with fellow panelists Randall Krebs, general counsel at Meritus Trust; Jonathan Dunlop, director of wealth planning at HSBC Private Bank; and Peter Pearman of Conyers Dill & Pearman. With the support of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, Bermuda trust executives persuaded IBC Global Conferences to host the new event in Bermuda. Michelle Wolfe, managing director of Meritus Trust Company Ltd, and president of the Bermuda Association of Licensed Trustees (BALT) is hoping the event will become a fixture on the international business calendar. “We are looking forward to working with IBC Global Conferences to create a truly memorable event,” Ms Wolfe said. “The Geneva Conference is in its 29th year, we expect the Transcontinental Bermuda Forum will enjoy the same success.”

August 11. Desarollos Hotelco Group of Venezuela was selected the redevelop the earlier, demolished, Holiday Inn, Loew's, Club Med property in St. George's.

August 16. A Bermuda-based energy company has floated a new subsidiary on the New York Stock Exchange, raising $192 million in the process. Höegh LNG Holdings Ltd, which is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange, formed Höegh LNG Partners LP, a Marshall Islands Master Limited Partnership (MLP). The new business has been formed specifically to operate infrastructure for the liquefied natural gas industry, including floating storage and regasification units and liquefied natural gas carriers. Law firm Appleby said yesterday that it acted as Bermuda and Cayman counsel to Höegh LNG Holdings Ltd and its subsidiaries in connection with the formation of Höegh LNG Partners LP. The MLP’s initial public offering of 11.04 million common units represented limited partner interests in the MLP at $20 per unit. The common units began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on August 7, 2014 and the initial public offering successfully closed on Tuesday this week. The common units offered represent a 42 percent limited partner interest in the MLP and Höegh LNG Holdings owns the MLP’s general partner and the remaining limited partner interest. The Appleby Bermuda team was led by Cameron Adderley, global practice group head, Corporate, assisted by Corporate & Commercial partner Timothy Counsell and associates Jerome Wilson and Tiffany Boys. In New York trading yesterday, Höegh LNG Partners LP, which trades under the ticker symbol HMLP, climbed 50 cents, or 2.1 percent, to close on $24.25.

August 19. Bermuda, like many other areas in the world, became a signatory to the USA's Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FATCA). It was enacted in 2010 by Congress to target non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. FFIs are encouraged to either directly register with the IRS to comply with the FATCA regulations (and FFI agreement, if applicable) or comply with the FATCA Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) treated as in effect in their jurisdictions. 

August 25. A surgical first for Bermuda could help a hospital patient paralyzed from the neck down breathe on his own. And that means the young man — who has been in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for several years after an accident and can only breathe with the aid of a ventilator — could be discharged home. KEMH doctors flew US medic Dr Raymond Onders, a Professor of Surgery in Cleveland, Ohio, and an world-renowned expert in the procedure, to supervise local surgeons Dr Boris Vestweber and Dr Herman Thouet. Dr Onders said: “The team at the hospital was tremendous. The operation could not have been done better anywhere else in the world.” A report in the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s in-house magazine explained that it was more cost-effective to bring Dr Onders to the Island, rather than transport the patient to Ohio. Hospital chief of geriatrics Dr David Harries said: “It is hoped the patient will be able to make do without his ventilator completely. The plan for him to be eventually discharged and cared for at home.” The technique — called diaphragmatic pacing — involves surgeons attaching electrodes to the patient’s diaphragm, with wires leading out of the body to a pacemaker, which uses electrical impulses to contract the diaphragm, allowing the patient to breathe. And chief nursing officer Judy Richardson said the family of the man — who has not been named — were “extremely happy” that the surgery could be performed in a familiar environment by staff they know and trust.

KEMH Bermuda operation

King Edward VII hospital story, above.

September

September 3. The new Acute Care Wing at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital was opened, under a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement. Under the PPP, its construction was financed by Paget Health Services, which incurred the debt for the project, with the Bermuda Hospitals Board then paying the company in installments. BHB’s service payments also covered maintenance of the building. The project’s total cost to the taxpayer was unknown at the time. 

September 11. Apex Fund Services founder Peter Hughes has stepped down as chief executive officer after running the company for ten years. Apex today named Bill Salus as the new man at the helm, with immediate effect, while Mr Hughes will become chairman. From its roots as a Bermuda start-up, Apex has grown into an international fund services provider with more than $30 billion under administration, more than 400 clients and more than 400 employees in 34 offices across 26 countries. Mr Salus, based in the Apex New York office, will have a particular focus on the US market where he will lead Apex’s North American team. As chairman, Mr Hughes will focus on building Apex’s Capital Introductory Service, which helps Apex clients access investor capital. Mr Hughes will also manage Apex’s largest clients as well as concentrate on the Company’s growth strategy including acquisitions and targeting large institutional funds. Mr Hughes sees strong opportunities for growth all over the world.

September 11. Norwegian Cruise Line's purchase of Prestige Cruises International could provide a major boost to Hamilton and St George's in the years to come. The firm's CEO, Kevin Sheehan, told The Royal Gazette that Bermuda was the perfect market for Prestige's high end, luxury cruise liners. And he said that Norwegian would look at bringing more of the smaller liners from the Prestige fleet into Hamilton and the East End once the deal was sealed.

Kevin Sheehan

NCL's Kevin Sheehan. See above story

September 13. New flight connections from Europe to Gatwick are being explored by tourism bosses to increase air arrivals in Bermuda. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has been in talks with British Airways about a connection from Frankfurt to Gatwick that would allow travelers to then catch the Bermuda flight. CEO Bill Hanbury said the BTA has been in discussions with almost all of the airlines that currently service the Island to look at possible improvements. And he said there was big potential in Europe. “If we can start moving the air arrival numbers north all the other things like increased tourism GDP and hospitality investment in building will follow. We would like to have a connection out of Europe into Gatwick that could connect with the BA flight into Bermuda. There is big potential out of Europe and we have been in talks with BA about looking at a Frankfurt connection. We are still in the very formative stages but we are aware of the potential to better access Europe.” The BTA also revealed that a major Bermuda editorial is due to feature in Delta airlines in-house magazine this December. It is one of a series of initiatives that the authority has launched with the airlines coming into Bermuda to boost air arrivals. 

September 15. One of Bermuda’s oldest guest houses is to close, the owners have revealed. And Salt Kettle Guest House in Paget, run by Hazel Lowe and her family for nearly 45 years, is to become homes rather than a holiday spot. A spokesman for the Lowe family said: “They have now determined the next exciting step for the property is its transformation to a small, tasteful residential complex.” Five cottages, two two-bedroom apartments, a one-bedroom apartment and two studios will all be available for residential rental. Bermuda Tourism Authority chairman David Dodwell said: “I have always admired Hazel’s commitment to maintaining a first-class tourist product on Island. She graciously greeted each guest as a member of the family and has made an indelible contribution to Bermuda’s tourism. I wish her and her family well on their new venture.” It is understood that Ms Lowe, now 85 and who took over the Paget guest house in 1970 with husband Bobby, has decided to step back from running a busy business. Bookings for the guest house will continue to be taken until January of next year, when the property will close for renovations to make it more suited for residential use. It is expected the homes will be available for rent by the early summer of 2015. 

Salt Kettle Guest House

Salt Kettle Guest House

September 16. The Bermuda Government released its Gross Domestic Report for 2013 this month, and the numbers give rise for some cautious optimism. The report said that GDP, which measures the total value of goods and services produced in Bermuda, and is the most important measure of the economy's health, rose by 0.7 percent to $5.6 billion. After taking economy-wide inflation into account, the economy contracted for the fifth consecutive year, by 2.5 percent. 

September 16. Seniors have been told by Finance Minister Bob Richards that they won’t be getting an increase in their state pension because “money does not grow on trees.” Age Concern said yesterday that the news, delivered by the Minister during a question-and-answer session at the charity’s annual general meeting, was a “blow." Age Concern executive director Claudette Fleming told The Royal Gazette: “The Minister was asked ‘do you see an increase in pensions any time soon?’, given that the economy is still struggling and expenses are rising. The Minister basically said ‘not any time soon’. That was a blow. People are struggling. It has been a few years now since an increase.” The charity’s minutes of the meeting quote Mr Richards as saying to the 100 or so members who gathered at St Paul’s Church in Paget: “Money does not grow on trees. Every dollar that you have in your pocket, it all comes from the same place; that is, outside of Bermuda. The social insurance fund is under funded and so is the Civil Service pension fund. All the money comes from people abroad. If I increase pensions, I will inflict pain and discomfort for people who come after us. All the money comes from the same place. Bermuda’s economy is like a family budget. We have to be cautious with our planning.”

September 18. Formation of the Admiralty House Park Association, headed by Joyce Hall. Without this initiative, the park could have had a different name and a different appearance. It could instead have become the Bermuda College, with the addition of a hotel training school. The latter was the hope of some members of the then United Bermuda Party Government. But already associations based there, such which included The Group (later the Admiralty House Community Centre), the Pembroke Bermuda Scouts Association, the Sea Cadets and the Bermuda Sub Aqua Club, together with Pembroke Parish residents, objected strongly to the idea. The park's Clarence Cove had intrigued some Government MPs who saw it as an ideal location for a hotel training school. Initial plans drawn up by interested parties showed there would be five buildings around Clarence Cove, taking up 12 of the 17 acres of land. The project was estimated at $8 million dollars over a 10-year period. Had the Government not changed its mind, Pembroke Parish would have lost its only substantial parkland and its only public beaches. Fortunately, it did change its mind; Stonington in Paget was chosen instead, and today it’s hard to imagine Bermuda College being anywhere other than its present location. In the meantime, Admiralty House Park has retained its name, one of the first clues to its history centuries before any Bermuda College was imaginable. Drive into the park, and a derelict building with a dilapidated veranda roof looms into view. Apart from a few outhouses scattered over the grounds, that is all that remains of the admiral’s residence, most of which, for safety reasons, was deliberately destroyed by fire on the orders of that Government in the 1970s.

September 23.  In the first step of a multi-phase renovation, the Elbow Beach Resort said they have re-introduced three newly renovated meeting room spaces. “We are excited to showcase our newly renovated meeting space and look forward to welcoming events of all kinds here at Elbow Beach,” commented Edmund Burns, the Elbow Beach Bermuda’s Owners’ Representative. “The property now has world-class meeting facilities that complement the hotel’s first-class accommodations and prime location on Bermuda’s South Shore. Our staff is diligent, extremely accommodating and will make sure any event, stay or meeting booked with us is treated with the hospitality and care for which Bermuda is known.” A statement from the hotel said, “Elbow Beach has three varied meeting rooms that can provide both business and leisure guests with ample space to host a great event, complete with state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor function space, the fastest high-speed technology on the island and video-conferencing facilities. The resort’s meeting space features nature light and sweeping views of one of the most beautiful beaches in the world that sit on the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The space boasts interiors of an elegant color scheme accented with cool marble and warm woods. The focus of Elbow Beach’s revitalized meeting space is on smaller corporate, incentives, board meeting and group bookings that allow the resort to individualize a client’s programs, which would include reserving the entire 98-room resort during certain times of the year.

September 23. Last year tourism contributed $289.4 million to Bermuda’s GDP, employment directly related to tourism declined 10.1%, Government spent $30 million to provide tourism services and a total of 579,808 visitors to Bermuda translated into $412 million spent within the local economy, a decrease of $3 million from 2012. These figures come from the 2013 Tourism Satellite Account report from the Department of Statistics, which was released today [Sept 23] and defines the economic activity in the tourism industry and measures its contribution to GDP and employment.

Chart #1 extracted from the report:

tourism stats

The report said, “Total tourism-related value added decreased to $609 million in 2013, down 1.0 per cent from the $615 million measured in 2012. The total value added comprised $289 million in direct gross value added and $320 million in indirect gross value added. Direct Tourism output amounted to $489 million in 2013. This represented 46.6 per cent of total tourism output. For every dollar of direct tourism output generated, another $1.15 of indirect tourism output was produced. The tourism-related employment level fell by 460 workers to 5,224 jobs in 2013. This total included 3,553 jobs directly related to tourism and 1,671 jobs from indirect tourism. This means for every 10 direct tourism jobs generated in 2013 an additional 4.7 jobs were indirectly created."

Chart #2 extracted from the report:

tourism stats 2

“Employment of Bermudian workers represented 74.6 per cent or 2,651 workers engaged in tourism industry employment, a 9.2 per cent decline when compared to 2012. The level of wages received from tourism activities reached $415 million, falling $18 million below the level in 2012. Of this total, 57 per cent or $236 million in wages was earned from direct tourism. In 2013, a total of 579,808 visitors to Bermuda translated into $412 million spent on goods and services within the local economy. The total level of spending by air, yacht and cruise visitors [including crew members], fell by $3 million when compared to spending levels recorded in 2012.”

September 24. The Department of Health has confirmed the first case of chikungunya in Bermuda, but said that there has been no local spread of the virus reported. Chikungunya, a disease spread by mosquito bites, can cause severe joint pain, high fever, rashes and aches, but infections are rarely fatal. According to a spokeswoman for the department, "the patient diagnosed with the virus was previously known by the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit at the Department of Health to be a suspected case and received instruction on avoiding mosquito bites to prevent local spread of the illness. Additionally, a referral was sent to Vector Control to increase surveillance and put in place control measures in the area. To date, no local spread of the virus has been reported in the Bermuda, though imported cases make local spread possible because the mosquitoes that can transmit the virus are found in Bermuda. With frequent travel between Bermuda and affected areas in the Caribbean, the Department of Health continues to work with healthcare providers and other regional public health partners to monitor possible imported cases. 

September 25. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is to take an American company with a Bermudian arm to court in a bid to tax a $357 million loan. And — if the US taxman is successful — the case could have wide-reaching implications for other major US firms that use international subsidiaries to do business. The US Tax Court case centres around the use of Bermuda HoldCo by US firm Paradym, owned by the Illinois Tool Works, to make a loan to its European subsidiary, Europe HoldCo. According to the US National Law Review, Bermuda HoldCo in 2006 lent the cash to European HoldCo. The Review said that the loan was unsecured, had a term of five years and included a fixed interest rate, as well as being “properly documented and $20 million of interest was paid each year as required by the loan documents. Europe HoldCo then made a distribution of the same $357 million to Paradym.” But the IRS in 2010 said that the Bermuda HoldCo loan was a dividend — which gave European HoldCo to have $357 million in earnings and profits and should be treated as a taxable dividend. The IRS further argued that Paradym had a zero basis in its European HoldCo shares, which would result in the European HoldCo’s distribution being treated as a taxable capital gain. But Paradym argued that the distribution was not a dividend because Europe HoldCo had no earnings and profits and that the distribution should offset Paradym’s $1.1 billion basis in its European HoldCo shares. The National Law Review article added: “As evidenced by the increasing number of inversions by US multinationals, repatriation of offshore profits has been and will continue to be a significant issue. “Should the IRS be successful in Illinois Tool Works, a large number of US multinationals will be affected as this type of repatriation strategy is a common planning technique.”

September 26. The Corporation of St. George elected members yesterday announced the conclusion of a review which took place earlier this year, saying that they intend to recruit a Town Manager who will oversee the day-to-day operation of the Corporation of St. George office. The Corporation said, “After an in-depth look at the current structure and the Corporation’s ability to meet the needs of the Town, they have made a commitment to get back to basics and focus on their primary mission which is to serve the needs of our constituents by providing the services they require in a timely, professional and cost-effective way and to support the revitalization of the Town of St. George. To accomplish this, changes must occur throughout the Corporation of St. George. Over the next several months, in support of the new structure, a variety of changes and initiatives will be introduced. They are all designed to improve the Corporation of St. George’s services and communications with constituents, visitors and key partners. The Corporation of St. George is excited to announce the decision to recruit a Town Manager and Secretary of the Corporation of St. George who will serve as the Chief Administration Officer, executing the strategic plan; overseeing the day-to-day operation of the Corporation of St. George office and ensuring that they consistently exceed the expectations of constituents, visitors and stakeholders.

September 27. Private school heads have banded together to form the Bermuda Independent Schools Association (BISA), to enable better collaboration and representation. In a meeting earlier this week, heads of the six different private schools agreed to form BISA as “a forum for the heads to share issues of professional interest and to consider developments in education in Bermuda”, according to a statement issued yesterday. “The association seeks to become a recognisable entity through which the views of the independent schools in Bermuda can be represented to the community, the Government and to other agencies.”

September 27. Ministerial travel costs will be made public on a new website as part of a drive to promote transparency within Government. The move comes as Government hit back yesterday at Opposition criticism of a recent trip by the Premier and two Ministers to New York. Shadow Tourism Minister, Zane DeSilva, branded the trip a ‘junket’ claiming the cost of the trip should be made public. But last night Government maintained the US trip was “prudent and fiscally managed” to attract investment and showcase Bermuda. And it revealed plans to put all Ministerial and Government MP travel costs on line in the near future for the public to see. An OBA spokesman said travel to market the island is essential for Bermuda’s economic survival. He added: “Bermudians have every right to know how their tax dollars are spent, and they can have confidence that this Government is making prudent decisions as it works to attract businesses and visitors to our shores. Premier Dunkley has demonstrated the Government’s commitment to transparency by introducing and passing the Public Access to Information (PATI) bill within weeks of his Premiership. The commitment to transparency and accountability will be extended with the imminent launch of a website that will outline all travel expenses for any travel taken by Government Ministers and MPs. Attracting more visitors and more investment dollars means more economic activity, which means more jobs. To get the economy working better for Bermudians, the Government must fish where the fish are, the east coast of America is our primary market for business and visitors. The trip to New York City this week — the world’s business capital — is part of the Government’s work to re-establish Bermuda’s profile in overseas tourism and business markets — a profile diminished in recent years because of the mishandling of Bermuda Tourism marketing and antagonistic government attitudes that alienated investors and stakeholders — key sources for the Island’s income and jobs.” The OBA spokesman accused Mr DeSilva of using falsehood and disparaging language to criticize the New York trip and cheapen Government’s efforts to bring new business to the island. 

September 29. A new Hamilton restaurant is hoping to curry favour with customers — with a range of Indian dishes blending the traditional and modern. Ruby Murrys — the new arm of the Yellowfin chain of restaurants, which includes Pearl and Port o’ Call has just opened up in the former Fresco’s wine bar in Hamilton’s Chancery Lane. And manager Sam Bangera said the menu — a mix of traditional dishes and ones with a Bermuda twist — had proved a hit with customers. Mr Bangera said: “Our main aim is guest satisfaction — give them something different from what other places are giving them — and the customers seem to like it very much. It’s more of a fusion restaurant — but we have that as well as a more traditional element, so we cater for all tastes.” Yellowfin pushed ahead with the new restaurant — named after a Belfast-born 1960s singer whose name is Cockney rhyming slang for curry — despite the recession, which has hit the restaurant business hard. Mr Bangera, originally from Mumbai and with decades of experience in Bermuda and overseas, said: “It was a challenge — but that’s why we went for something different and it’s working very well.” 

September 30. A US business tycoon has bought up the Newstead and Belmont Hills golf course. Now hedge fund manager Larry Doyle — who already owns the old Lantana property — plans to upgrade both the golf course and the hotel, with a new clubhouse at Belmont Hills and more rooms at the Belmont on his agenda. And he added that prices for fractional ownership at Belmont would be slashed to as low as $99,000 for eight weeks. Mr Doyle, who has been linked with the properties for three years, said: “We are very bullish about Bermuda.” He declined to discuss the price of the twin properties — but it understood it could be as high as $18 million. Mr Doyle said: “In fairness to the banker and receivers, they got me to pay more than I would have liked — but I still believe I have a very marketable property with the best location in Bermuda. I’m very happy.” The news ends uncertainty over the Newstead and Belmont sites, which have been in receivership for three years. New York-based Mr Doyle said he planned to concentrate on the Newstead in Paget and Belmont in Warwick before tacking the Somerset Bridge-based Lantana. Mr Doyle added: “First things first — we’re going to aggressively market the fractional units that are there just now. They will start as low as $99,000 for eight weeks. Existing owners will get the deep discounts. but we will be discounting for new buyers as well. Any money that’s going to go into it will be the golf course. We’re exploring building a new clubhouse and that’s probably where our energy will go to initially. There is a phase we might want to develop and build at Newstead before we do Lantana. It doesn’t make much sense to redevelop Lantana before selling off the fractional units already built at Newstead. There is talk of raising the tennis courts and adding on more rooms — Newstead is only a 60-bed hotel. If we could take that up to 90 or 100 rooms, it would be a much more efficient hotel.” The property developer and managing director of hedge fund and mutual fund managers Horizon Kinetics also controls real estate investment company Katierich Asset Management. He bought the Lantana site several years ago while on vacation in Bermuda and snapped it up despite the resort having closed more than a decade ago. 

Newstead 2

September 30. Catastrophe bonds are becoming a progressively cheaper form of reinsurance as the dynamics of the insurance-linked securities (ILS) sector change. That is the view of Tony Ursano, chief executive officer of Willis Capital Markets and Advisory (WCMA), one of the firms that structures ILS deals. Mr Ursano was speaking after strong investor demand allowed California’s California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund to upsize the offering of its Bermuda-based special purpose insurer, Golden State Re II. The four-year, $250 million cat bond was structured by Willis Capital Markets & Advisory and provides fully collateralised protection for workers’ compensation against California earthquake. It is listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange. The deal was initially set for $150 million, but that changed after demand from the capital markets and allowed the bond to settle in at the lower end of its 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent pricing guidance, WCMA said. “The pricing that state fund was able to obtain on Golden State Re II highlights the rapidly changing dynamics in the ILS landscape over the last three years,” Mr Ursano said in a statement. “For a similar layer that was placed in 2011, state fund was able to obtain 25 percent more capacity while pricing dropped more than 40 percent.” An Aon Benfield Securities report released earlier this month found that alternative capital now has a market share of about 20 percent in the global reinsurance market. The report found that over the 12 months ending June 30, the period for which Aon analyzed the market, there was $9.4 billion of catastrophe bond issuance, which is a 41 percent increase over the previous period.

September 30. Global financial services firm Deloitte, which has five Bermuda-incorporated subsidiaries, has posted record revenue of $34.2 billion for its last financial year. The head of the firm’s Bermuda and Caribbean arm John Johnston said figures for the Island were not available. But Mr Johnston said: “Deloitte firms in Bermuda and the Caribbean region experienced moderate growth during 2014. While we make up a relatively small part of the revenues of the our global organization, we continue to play a key role in serving multinational clients of the network, as well as local interests in Bermuda.” The firm attributed its global revenue figures, for the year ending in May this year, to increased demand, especially for consulting services, which went up 10.3 percent. But it also reported strong growth in tax and legal, financial advisory and enterprise risk services. It is the fifth year running of aggregate member firm growth. Mr Johnston said: “In Bermuda our focus has been to continually drive audit quality and to grow our advisory offerings, particularly enterprise risk services, actuarial services, corporate recovery and tax. We continue to invest in our people and the Bermuda community and are particularly committed to the development of young Bermudians through our internship and professional qualification programmes.” The Americas arm of the global empire was the top performer, up 7.5 percent in local currency for the year ended May 31. The region was followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa, then the Asia Pacific area. A spokesman for the 150-strong global network of member firms in 150 countries predicted that several factors would drive continued growth over the next year. He said: “Increasing client needs stemming from globalization and changes in business models, technology and regulations are expected to drive further opportunities in the year ahead. The network is also committed to the development of its people and now numbers 210,000 professionals around the globe. Deloitte continues to invest heavily in innovation, which includes global investment in technology, advanced analytics, new business models and sector-specific solutions, as well as people, to provide top-of-the-line services. The audit plays a critical role in building trust in public and capital markets and is also a cornerstone of Deloitte’s work.

October

October 1. An overhaul of work permit regulations which will “reduce red tape and demonstrate that Bermuda is open for business” could come into effect by the end of the year. According to Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy, the revisions, compiled by Government after extensive consultation, have been drawn up to attract foreign businesses to Bermuda and include the creation of new categories of work permit for exempt companies. A new Bermuda Employment Visa (BEV) will allow exempt companies to employ some foreigners without needing to advertise or to apply for a standard work permit, although companies applying for a BEV will have to be accredited. A new Global Entrepreneur Work Permit will allow entrepreneurs looking to start up a business in Bermuda to obtain a work permit — and the right of residency on the Island — while they are setting up their business. And a new Business Permit will allow brand new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of setting up. At a press conference this morning, Mr Fahy stressed that the changes also brought in tough compliant measures for companies including satisfying Government that they have informed all unsuccessful Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians, and PRC holders of the outcome of their applications, prior to the submission of a work permit application. “Overall, we believe these changes will demonstrate to the local and international community that Bermuda continues to be open for business as we continue to cut down on the red tape which hinders our growth as an international business domicile. For example, employers will now only need to produce chest X-rays for TB for employees coming from high risk jurisdictions and will be able to complete work permit forms in Microsoft word. However there are quid pro quos as identified above which we believe will give opportunities to Bermudians whilst assisting business in their goals.” 

October 2. Lloyd’s of London company Ascot Underwriting Ltd and American International Group announced the creation of AIG-Ascot Re, a Bermuda-based reinsurance platform scheduled to begin writing business on January 1, 2015. The companies said in a release that Simon Kimberley, formerly an underwriter with Ascot’s London treaty team, has transferred to AUB and will begin writing business for the platform in Bermuda. Ascot Underwriting (Bermuda) Ltd will serve as managing general agent of AIG-Ascot Re, which will write catastrophe reinsurance business on behalf of American International Reinsurance Company Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AIG, the companies said in a statement. “This is an excellent opportunity for AIG to deploy its existing reinsurance capacity in a more focused way and establish a greater presence in the dynamic reinsurance markets in Bermuda,” John Q. Doyle, CEO of AIG’s global commercial insurance, said in a statement. “AIG-Ascot Re combines Ascot’s expertise and market reputation with the financial strength and backing of AIG,” Ascot Underwriting Ltd. CEO Andrew Brooks said in the statement. “The operation will complement Ascot’s Lloyd’s syndicate, providing clients with a broader scope of strong capacity and solutions for all facets of their catastrophe programme.

October 3. Celebrated Sesame Street illustrator and long-term Bermuda visitor Tom Cooke has died at the age of 78. Mr Cooke first visited Bermuda in 1958 with his wife Onalee on their honeymoon, and the couple fell in love with the Island, returning almost every winter. Such was Mr Cooke’s love affair with the Island, that his family and friends plan to scatter his ashes at Grape Bay. The illustrator said that his time in Bermuda had inspired some of his art. His book Grover’s Adventures under the Sea reflected his son’s enjoyment of scuba diving at Grape Bay, while another book about a pet store was inspired by birds found in a good friend’s shop on the Island. And The Royal Gazette’s Bermuda Calendar was used as kite paper for an illustration in the book, Grover, Grover, Come On Over. During one visit he stopped by St David’s Primary School to speak with students, and in 2006 he took part in Masterwork Foundation’s Art for All programme, teaching children the basics of drawing cartoon characters. 

Tom Cooke

The late Tom Cooke

October 4. Plans for a second beach club on the former site of the Sonesta Hotel have been submitted for approval. According to an application received by the Planning Department on Monday, the Hamilton Princess Beach Club will include a dining pavilion with seating for 66 people, and five mobile module with kitchen, bar and washroom facilities installed on the eastern side of Sinky Bay. The pavilion will have a traditional Bermuda SKB tile roof with a planked floor and a fabric sunshade intended to both provide shelter to customers just outside the dining area and provide wind protection in blustery conditions. Meanwhile, mobile cabanas and umbrellas will be used on the beach itself. The draft Operational Management Plan included in the application states that the modules will be parked on a concrete slab, butting up against the beach club. Existing buildings on the site will be used for storage, administration and staff facilities. The beach club application for the Southampton property is the second since it was purchased by the Green family, who bought the land for $10.5 million last March. The family, who own the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, sought and received planning permission to erect a four-storey beach club overlooking Boat Bay Beach on the western side of the property. That application stated the club would provide an additional amenity for guests at the Hamilton hotel.

Sinky Bay and old Sonesta

Sinky Bay before demolition of old Sonesta, see above story

October 6. Bermuda-based Brookfield Property Partners LP, the winning bidder for the shuttered Revel casino and hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, said it plans to reopen the property as it expands its investments in gambling venues. “We will be in discussions with all parties and partners involved to formulate a feasible plan that ensures the long-term viability of this property as a resort destination,” Melissa Coley, a Brookfield spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. She declined to comment on the timing of a reopening. Brookfield today said it won the bankrupt casino property with a $110 million bid in an auction that ended at 5.30am. New York time.  

October 6. Financial services firm Ernst & Young (EY) earned nearly $27.5 billion in revenues in its last financial year, the company reported this week. EY earned $26.4 billion globally — with the Americas area, which includes the Bermuda arm, posting around $11.5 billion in revenue. EY Bermuda senior partner Pete Cangany said: “The growth the firm is enjoying across all service lines, on a global basis, is reflected here in Bermuda. We are very excited about the additions we have made to our local leadership team and the deep industry expertise that we have brought on board to better serve our clients. As we look forward to 2015, we will continue to look to invest in both people and solutions.” The latest figures — for the financial year to the end of June — showed revenues up, in local currency terms, by 6.8 per cent across the world. Revenues grew by six per cent in US dollars.

October 7. Opposition leader Marc Bean has called on Government to abandon plans to introduce pre-certification for medical testing. In a statement this morning, Mr Bean said: "The news that the Bermuda Medical Doctors' Association (BMDA) opposes the OBA's pre-certification scheme should come as no surprise to most Bermudians. The facts are that pre-certification has been discredited and dismissed as a viable tool to lower healthcare costs because it has proven to delay patient access to needed medical treatment and drive up medical costs. Doctors are concerned that their patients may find their conditions worsening or even losing their lives while a clerk second guesses their physician. 

October 7.  Pinky Steede is coming home. The veteran singer, who now lives in Portugal, will perform at a gala fundraiser for cancer charity PALS later this month. “I last performed in Bermuda a few years ago at the Jazz Festival, and I am very excited and looking forward to performing again for my people,” she said. She and her former husband Gene Steede were popular entertainers with the Holiday Island Revue in the 1960s. A decade later, she was performing in hit musicals such as Bubbling Brown Sugar, in London’s West End. Age hasn’t slowed her down. At 73 — she describes herself as “30 years and holding” — she’s about to publish her memoirs and last year released her most recent album, Love Is. “All I have ever wanted to do is sing and travel,” said Ms Steede, who lives in Lagoa with her husband Mike Wall. Ms Steede performs regularly in Portugal, where she’s lived for the past 20 years; the press there have called her a “diminutive ball of energy.” 

October 7. Premier Michael Dunkley has assured civil servants they will continue to be consulted on public sector reform — on the same day the Island’s white-collar union rejected proposals released by Government earlier this year. The Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU) issued a policy paper yesterday on the Public Bodies Reform Bill 2014, urging its members and the public to “say no” to plans to set up an Efficiency and Reform Authority to streamline and privatize some areas of government. The report claims the proposed legislation poses a “threat” to the current terms and conditions of employment of civil servants and is evidence of Government “forcefully driving its agenda of neo-liberalism. .Mr Dunkley, in a letter to all public officers dated October 6 and shared with The Royal Gazette, wrote that Government had accepted some of the recommendations made by the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission in its report released last November but “much more work is required to achieve the detailed analysis needed to make some of the final decisions.” .He said the recommendations accepted by Government included:

* establishing an Efficiency and Reform Authority to evaluate public authorities for the “purpose of privatization, modularization and outsourcing”;

* modifying the leadership structure, evaluation, methodology and contracts for the Civil Service executive;

* reforming human resource policy to improve performance and accountability;

* realigning, merging, amalgamating and/or discontinuing certain departments and programmes;

* strengthening budgetary planning and control systems to increase compliance and accountability; and

* reviewing public sector pensions.

October 12. Bermuda was hit hard by Tropical Storm Fay which had been forecast by US sources to pass to the east as a mere tropical storm or category one Hurricane. Instead, it strengthened suddenly and passed directly over Bermuda without any prior warning. Residents experienced 80-120 mph gusting winds later reported to have peaked at 155 mph. Coconut trees and other trees collapsed, blocking access to houses. Many roofs were damaged. All schools were closed and one lost its roof. Two thirds of homes lost electricity when overhead power lines were blown down.  Electricity outages meant no power, no running water, no flushing toilets, no fridges or air conditioning, no radio or TV or Internet. Many boats were wrecked and shipping containers were blown from the Port Of Hamilton into the harbour. This was a fast, furious but short-lived hurricane.

October 13. PGA of America officials breathed a collective sigh of relief after Port Royal Golf Course was given a clean bill of health to host today’s Grand Slam of Golf Pro-Am event in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fay. The 6,842-yard, par-71 Southampton layout suffered mild damage during the storm which lashed the Island in the early hours of yesterday morning. Once the storm had subsided, the course remained closed to the general public while PGA officials and Port Royal staff worked frantically behind the scenes clearing away scattered branches and leaves in and around the fairways and bunkers. Only one green was mildly damaged, the par-five 7th, which was left with indentations from a television stand that toppled over during the storm. The start of the Pro-Am has been pushed back half an hour and will now begin at 11.30am with gates to open at 9.30. The Grand Slam, which starts tomorrow and finishes on Wednesday, features PGA and Open Champion Rory McIlroy, Masters winner Bubba Watson, US Open champion Martin Kymer and Jim Furyk, the 2008 Grand Slam winner. Furyk completes the foursome as an alternate from the Major Champions Point List because McIlroy won two Major championships this year and last year’s Grand Slam Champion, Adam Scott, was unavailable because of a scheduling conflict. As of yesterday afternoon, all but one of this year’s Grand Slam foursome had arrived on Island but organiser expect them to make their tee-off time this morning. This year will be the final time Bermuda hosts the Grand Slam, which it has held since 2007.

October 14. Bermuda-based White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd has bought a controlling interest in US company Tranzact, which helps insurers acquire customers. White Mountains acquired approximately 63 percent of Tranzact for $178 million, representing an enterprise value of approximately $280 million. After the closing of the deal, Tranzact completed a recapitalisation that allowed for the return of $44 million in capital to White Mountains. Before the deal, Tranzact was a portfolio company of Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) and Ares Management, LP, with VSS the majority owner. Tranzact says it “provides end-to-end, performance-driven customer acquisition solutions to leading insurance carriers” and claims to be “a market leader in the direct-to-consumer distribution of insurance products”. Tranzact employs more than 700 licensed insurance agents. “We very much look forward to continuing our growth trajectory with White Mountains in the years to come,” said David Graf, CEO of Tranzact. “Tranzact is uniquely positioned to help insurance companies reach consumers. We at White Mountains are excited to partner with the Tranzact management team to help them execute on their vision,” said Ray Barrette, chairman and CEO of White Mountains. Based in Fort Lee, NJ, Tranzact’s revenue streams are derived from a brand-focused business model that supports the direct-to-consumer distribution capabilities of large insurance companies as well as marketplaces, such as medicaresupplement.com and autoinsurance.com, where consumers can shop for insurance.

October 17. Bermuda received a direct hit from Hurricane Gonzalo only a week after its last event, but because of earlier warnings, this time was well-prepared. Airlines stopped flying beforehand for the duration and cruise ships, intended for Bermuda, visited other ports instead. Once again coconut trees and other trees collapsed, blocking access to houses. Some roofs were damaged or lost. All business and schools closed early. Two thirds of homes lost electricity.  Electricity outages meant no power, no running water, no flushing toilets, no fridges or air conditioning, no radio or TV or Internet. Some boats were wrecked. Britain's Royal Navy sent a warship to help recovery efforts and Caribbean (from 900 miles away) electricity suppliers were on standby.

October 17. Both the old and the new wing of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital have been breached by Hurricane Gonzalo, the Emergency Measures Organisation announced at 9.30pm, resulting in leaks and water damage in the facility. Police spokesman Dwayne Caines reported that the hospital had sustained roof damage during the storm — but said that contingency plans for such an event had been enacted by KEMH staff. Meanwhile, The Royal Gazette has received reports of large numbers of what appear to be emergency lights in the vicinity of nearby Crow Lane.

KEMH new building

October 18. Large areas of the Island’s roads are blocked by fallen trees and downed poles. Barely a road is passable and the public should stay indoors to allow emergency crews to clear up, Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva told the Emergency Broadcast Station at 7.30am. Three boats have run aground at Mullet Bay, St Georges, while the left side of the old recycling plant off Devon Spring Road is destroyed. The Causeway appears to be mostly intact although a few walls have come down on the St George’s side. Police and the Regiment were on the Causeway from 8am assessing the damage and the Causeway remained closed at 9.30am. The exterior of the airport appears to be fine, initial reports suggest. The Regiment were on Front Street at 8.30am clearing the roads. The large tree outside the Ferry Terminal on Front Street has come down and flooding has been reported in the area of Victor Scott School. Cedar Avenue by Victoria Park was still blocked at 9.50am. A giant tree has come down on Reid Street near the Armoury Building and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club has sustained minor damage, while a downed power line is blocking North Shore Road near Flatts. Police Headquarters at Prospect has suffered minor roof damage, while a speed monitor has come down near the Arboretum. A tree and utility pole have come down at Clifton, near the US Consulate, and gas pumps have been damaged at the gas station at the Crawl. Part of the roof of the House of Assembly has come away. Shutters at the Robin Hood Pub and Restaurant in Pembroke and a portion of their outdoor seating area’s ceiling have come down. Roads blocked include Trimingham Road — where a massive tree has come down — South Road by the Botanical Gardens, North Shore Road by Ingham's Vale, Orange Valley, Middle Road by Warwick Academy, South Road by Coral Beach and Elbow Beach, Grape Bay, St David’s Lighthouse, North Shore Road by Brighton Hill, Middle Road near Granaway Heights and Middle Road near Ornamental Ironworks. The Railway Trail is being used for emergency vehicles only. Residents are urged to stay indoors when the winds ease to allow the emergency services to clear the debris and reach those in urgent need. More updates to come as soon as possible.

October 18. ‘We will recover’ was the resounding message from Premier Michael Dunkley this morning as Bermuda woke to the trail of destruction left by Hurricane Gonzalo. The Premier praised residents for their preparation saying it was ‘key’ to minimizing the effects of the devastating hurricane. And he said the island’s roads and infrastructure were in a much better shape than many might have expected. “I think all of Bermuda would agree that we took a licking. We are a bit bruised. But we will recover from this. The storm was very powerful and lasted longer than many expected. I want to thank people for getting their preparation done and staying in their houses. We had no fatalities but some minor injuries. All in all we came out of this storm much better than we expected. Preparation was key. I would now ask for people’s patience. Now we have to stay off the streets and let the services do their work.” Speaking on the Emergency Broadcast Station this morning he added: “As far as roads and infrastructure we are in a much better position than many people might have thought. A lot of the major arteries are open and the hospital fared well. The initial assessment of the airport shows it is in pretty good shape. There was no flooding in the arrivals hall. The only thing we need to do now is check the runways. We need to get that airport open tomorrow. All in all we look pretty good there.” No fatalities have been reported as a result of Hurricane Gonzalo, but the Premier said there had been some minor injuries. A total of 66 residents made use of the shelter facility at CedarBridge during the storm. Teams from all agencies have now fanned out across the Island and the restoration effort is expected to be assisted by helicopter reconnaissance provided from HMS Argyll which traveled behind the storm and is now within flying distance of Bermuda. The Emergency Measures Organization met at 8am this morning and an assessment of the damage sustained across the Island and the work to restore Bermuda has already begun. The Premier said he was extremely proud of the way Bermudians had rallied together in the aftermath of the hurricane. “A number of our overseas friends especially the United States and the UK have quickly offered assistance to us and we are very grateful. The expertise that they offer will be put to best use as soon as we have completed the assessment of the priority of work required. The EMO will meet again this afternoon. At that time we will have better information on where things stand and we will be able to inform the public about public transportation, the airport and the Causeway. Make no mistake, this was a dangerous hurricane but Bermuda today is dealing with property damage, blocked roads and a loss of electricity; all things that can be replaced and restored. Thankfully, there has been no loss of life and for that we must give thanks.”

October 20. Damage from Hurricane Gonzalo could have been much worse — had the storm’s eye not passed directly over Bermuda and had Tropical Storm Fay not visited less than a week earlier. That is the view of experts from catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, who said the diameter of Gonzalo’s eye was twice the length of Bermuda. Scott Stransky, manager and principal scientist at AIR, noted that buildings in Bermuda were designed to withstand sustained wind speeds up to 110mph and gusts up to 150mph and so it was “not surprising” that reports of significant structural damage were scarce. “Damage may also have been mitigated by the very fact that the very large — and very calm — eye of Gonzalo passed over Bermuda, which reduced the total number of hours of significant winds. Nevertheless, roof damage — ranging from a few blown off tiles to, in some cases, loss of nearly the entire roof — is fairly widespread.” AIR, which uses sophisticated computer software to model natural catastrophes for the insurance industry, said the eye of the storm made landfall on the south-central coast of Bermuda at 8.30pm on Friday evening. Most residents then experienced an eerily calm period before high winds resumed, this time pummelling the Island from a westerly direction, instead of the earlier easterly winds. Mr Stransky said the direct hit from Fay six days earlier may have helped the Island escape an even more savage hit. “The storm weakened prior to landfall due to both lower sea surface temperatures and higher wind shear in the vicinity of Bermuda,” Mr Stransky said. “Note that the centre of Tropical Storm Fay passed directly over the Island less than a week ago. It is likely that Fay’s passage reduced the sea surface temperatures around Bermuda and allowed Gonzalo to be just slightly weaker than it might have been. Bermuda had effectively passed through the eye of a needle. Gonzalo is just the third recorded Category 2 or above storm to pass directly over the island of Bermuda since NOAA’s official hurricane database, HURDAT, began in 1851,” he said. “The other storms were in 1895 and 1922. Hurricane Fabian’s track was just west of the Island in 2003, and the centre did not pass directly overhead. The observed winds from Gonzalo were a bit lower than Fabian’s, which caused about $300 million of loss in 2003 dollars; AIR estimates that a recurrence of Fabian today would cost the industry around $650 million. "When the eye began to come onshore, the storm was still Category 3 with 115mph winds, but by the time the very centre passed overhead, Gonzalo had weakened to Category 2, with 110mph winds. The strongest observed winds at the Bermuda airport were 93mph sustained, gusting to 113mph. A station at nearly 300 feet above sea level in Commissioner’s Point reported a gust of 144mph; however, it should be noted that winds at this elevation can be up to 30 percent higher than locations at sea level.” AIR said it had a team on the ground in Bermuda carrying out a damage survey.

October 20. Retired Commandant of the Bermuda Reserve Police Eugene Vickers has died. Mr Vickers died Saturday while being treated in hospital overseas. “The Bermuda Police Service and the Bermuda Reserve Police have lost a highly respected colleague and friend,” said Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva. “Commandant Vickers was a strong man who loved his family and his Island. He was a shining example of philanthropy and a dedicated community servant. His 40 years as a reserve police officer and his endless involvement in community projects set a standard for leadership in Bermuda. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family as they cope with this very sad loss.” Mr Vickers joined the Reserve Constabulary in 1964. According to Police, he helped to lead the organization through a series of modernization change including a change in name to the Bermuda Reserve Police, a change in uniform to match their full-time colleagues and a change in training to facilitate wider deployment of Reserve Officers across a fuller spectrum of general police duties. Said a Police spokesman: “Mr Vickers was appointed as the fifth Commandant of the BRP in September 1999, becoming the first born Bermudian to reach that rank. In 2001 he led the BRP in celebration of its 50th anniversary of establishment by Act of Parliament. In October 2002 Mr. Vickers proudly hosted the Reserve Police Commandants World Conference in Bermuda. He was a recipient of the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service and he retired after 40 years of service in October 2004. He was later awarded as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2011 for his lifetime dedication to community service in Bermuda.” PLP leader Marc Bean extended “heartfelt condolences” to Mr Vickers’ family on the party’s behalf. He described Mr Vickers as “a dedicated community servant who will be truly missed. I am truly in shock at this news as I was supposed to meet with Mr Vickers last week. This news has certainly saddened me. I give my deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

October 22. A shortage of roof slate has hit the Island in the wake of a double whammy from Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo. But building supply firms said fresh deliveries of slate for damaged roofs is expected to arrive on the Island before the end of the week. Reuben Waldron, assistant manager at SAL Trading in Devonshire, said: “A lot of people are looking for roofing tile, but were wiped out even before the hurricane. More should be here in the next couple of days.” Mr Waldron added: “We have been extremely busy — people are buying a lot of replacement windows and doors, things of that nature. We’re also selling a lot of plywood and people are looking for things to patch up their roofs.” Bermuda Brickyard said they had no roofing material, although managing director Paul Schindel said the firm normally gets it in only for specific jobs. “We sell mostly stone tile and we do keep some, but we don’t have any in stock just now. We’ve been selling a lot of wood flooring and a lot of driveway paving material. But the biggest single thing we’re selling is the hurricane protection screen Armor Screen.” Mr Schindel said the lightweight see-through fabric screen offered protection from wind, rain and flying debris and had been tested at wind speeds of up to 276mph. Atlantic Building Supplies president Werner Stegmann said the firm had been selling a lot of replacement ceiling tiles and dry wall as homeowners begin the task of repairing storm damage. “We have been very busy and we’ve also been fixing up the schools. Luckily, it didn’t rain, but a lot of the roofs are open so we’re working to get everything covered up properly.” ” 

October 22. Developers Desarrollos have been given an extra 60 days to finalize their plans to build a luxury brand hotel on the old Club Med site in St George’s The initial exclusive negotiation period between Government and the Desarrollos Hotelco Group (DHG) expired on October 8, and has now been extended to December 13. Yesterday Transport and Tourism Development Minister, Shawn Crockwell, revealed that the developer has chosen Starwood as their luxury brand partner. And he told The Royal Gazette that he remained confident that ground would be broken on the eagerly awaited project in the first half of 2015. “On May 23, 2014 I announced that the Bermuda Government entered into an exclusive negotiation period with international resort hotel developer Desarrollos Hotelco Group to construct a world class full service resort on the St George’s Tourism Development site. The exclusivity period commenced on 9th June, 2014 and expired on 8th October, 2014. Over the course of the 120-day exclusivity period we have made steady progress working through our terms of reference, and DHG are currently fully engrossed in the due diligence process with Starwood, their preferred high end luxury brand partner for this project. Mr Crockwell said that the move to provide developers with an extension was “not uncommon” practice and welcomed the news that DHG had partnered with Starwood. “Starwood is a major global hotel and resort company that operates a number of luxury marquee brands including the iconic St Regis, Le Meridian, and the Luxury Collection brands. In an effort to ensure we maintain and continue progress the Government has extended the exclusivity period for a further 60 days that will expire on December 13, 2014. The primary objectives during the extension period are the finalizing of the brand agreement and the approval of pre-development, development and operation commencement critical path items.”

October 22. The winter ferry schedule will come into effect from Monday. Timetables will be available from the Hamilton Ferry Terminal from this Friday. The schedule will also be available online at marineandports.bm.

October 24. NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — Bermuda-domiciled Lazard Ltd, the largest independent merger-advisory firm, posted third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as financial-advisory revenue increased. Net income rose 47 percent to $88.9 million, or 67 cents a share, from $60.3 million, or 45 cents, a year earlier, the firm said yesterday in a statement. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated 65 cents a share. Lazard, which derives about half its revenue from advising on mergers and restructurings, has benefited as deals increased this year. Financial-advisory revenue climbed 24 percent in the third quarter to $291 million, beating the $260 million estimate by Paul Gulberg, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC, and $289.7 million by Devin Ryan, an analyst at JMP Group Inc. “Lazard should be a direct beneficiary of what we expect to be a multiyear recovery in M&A activity levels,” Jeff Harte, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, said in an October 13 note. Shares of the company, which gained 7.5 percent this year through yesterday, rose 0.6 percent to $49 in New York at 8.18am. The firm ranks seventh this year in total deal value globally, with $442 million in transactions. Revenue from the asset-management division rose 16 percent to $287.9 million. Assets under management increased 5.7 percent from December to $197.6 million. Market volatility increased in mid-September, then subsided last week as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index rose to a 28-month high then dropped at least a point a day starting October 16. “Persistence in a prolonged period of volatility affects confidence levels,” Kenneth Jacobs, Lazard’s chief executive officer, said in an interview after results were released. “Confidence is really one of the key drivers of M&A activity. What we’re focused on is how long and how deep this period of volatility exists.” Lazard’s business advising on deals in Europe could be affected if volatility persists in the region, Jacobs said, adding that September was a “pretty busy month for us in Europe”.

October 25. For decades conservationists believed Bermuda’s endemic land snail, Poecilozonites bermudensis, was extinct. They feared it had become a victim of invasive predators. But now, around 40 years after its last sighting in the wild, a healthy colony of these snails has turned up in the heart of Hamilton in a damp and overgrown alleyway. The discovery has amazed conservationists in Bermuda. And steps are now being taken to protect the habitat and re-establish the uniquely Bermudian small snail on the Island. Mark Outerbridge, Conservation Service’s Wildlife Ecologist, told The Royal Gazette: “It really is an incredible story. This is a unique genus of snail, found nowhere else in the world, and for years we have thought it has been extinct. For it to be found in Hamilton is unbelievable. It’s the last place you would imagine that a small colony of rare snails would be discovered. But it seems that this small group has been protected by their urban isolation. The fact that there was so much concrete around them probably saved them from the predators that we believe killed the vast majority of the population Island-wide. This is another example of yet another endemic that we thought had gone extinct but has not, very much like the Cahows, which were thought to have disappeared during the 1600s, until they turned up again in 1951. To me what is really exciting is where they were found. It blew my mind. People have been looking for these snails for decades and here they are surrounded by concrete and air conditioners living in a 100 square foot alleyway in Hamilton.” The last recorded sighting of this endemic land snail was made in the early 1970s by Stephen J Gould. The well-known paleontologist had done his PhD as a young man on the Island and recorded them as being plentiful throughout the country. But when he returned to Bermuda in the early 1990s their numbers appeared to have taken a dramatic plunge, to the point that he could no longer find one. Dr Outerbridge added: “A lot of what we know today about these animals comes from Dr Gould’s work. He came down here as a deckhand on a ship originally and was fascinated by the evolution that had happened to these snails in Bermuda. He returned to the Island to do his PhD on them. He was still working with these species in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But suddenly it seemed that the snails, which had once been plentiful, completely died out. Dr Gould put it down to the introduction of predatorial snails that were deliberately brought to Bermuda to control the edible garden snail — another introduction that was proving a pest. One of the sad sides to this story is that Dr Gould is not alive now to hear that this animal still remains in the wild." A survey conducted in 1988 by two US scientists in Bermuda could find no living trace of Poecilozonites bermudensis. And later studies in 2000, 2002 and 2004 seemed to confirm that the animal was extinct. Furthermore, it was discovered that the population of another smaller endemic snail, Poecilozonites circumfirmatus, was rapidly declining. As a result a lifeboat project was arranged and the much smaller snail was sent to London Zoo where it has been saved from extinction. Plans are now afoot to protect the colony of Poecilozonites bermudensis in Hamilton and look at possible spots to translocate the species around the Island to reestablish it. Dr Outerbridge said: “We have a Canadian snail expert who is coming to Bermuda in the new year to help us look at the potential sites where the Poecilozonites bermudensis could be trans-located. For the time being we have gathered a small population from the Hamilton alleyway and are looking after them at Conservation Services.”

October 27. The losses from Hurricane Gonzalo will be much less than feared, an insurance firm boss predicted yesterday. John Wight president and chief executive officer of BF&M, the biggest property insurer on the Island, said damage costs were likely to total between $50-$100 million, not the $200-$400 million suggested by catastrophe modeling firms. Mr Wight said: "Much discussion has taken place in recent days comparing the damages to Bermuda from Hurricane Fabian in 2003 versus Hurricane Gonzalo. Insured losses from Hurricane Fabian were approximately $250 million." Mr Wight was speaking after catastrophe modelers AIR Worldwide conducted a damage survey across Bermuda last Sunday and Monday. AIR said that roofs had borne the brunt of the hurricane, but that older buildings had also suffered structural damage. The AIR report added that hotels and resorts had fared well, with only minor damage to more exposed units. The firm also said that commercial buildings, like warehouses and garages which were not subject to the Island's strict building controls, had also taken hits. Mr Wight added: "Modelers, from experience, typically model losses in excess of what the losses actually end up being. The range of losses indicated by the company in respect of Hurricane Gonzalo are in excess of what we expect them to be. It's based on the inputs to the system and modelers prefer to be conservative by nature. It's never an exact science and it's more prudent to be estimating on the high side rather than the low side. The surprise strength of Tropical Storm Fay the week before Gonzalo had encouraged people to take the hurricane seriously and protect property. Also, the direction of the storm when it hit Bermuda was more a westerly-easterly hit rather than the southerly course Fabian took and that benefited Bermuda and made the damage less than would otherwise have occurred." BF & M and Argus jointly announced last week that they would be waiving the double deductible for the separate Fay and Gonzalo storms. 

October 28. Annual spending on health in Bermuda rose from about $7,000 per person in 2007 to more than $11,000 in 2013, according to newly released figures. Bermuda Health Council released its National Health Accounts Report 2014, showing an increase in per capita health spending of almost 60 per cent over the six-year period. The document reveals that health expenditure on the Island does not compare well in terms of affordability to the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It states that in the fiscal year ending in March 2013 (FYE 2013), health spending in Bermuda reached 12.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) — compared with the OECD average of 9.3 per cent. Other key findings in the report include that Bermuda’s total health spending for FYE 2013 was $705 million; Local hospital use accounted for 44 per cent of total health spending; Overseas care accounted for 14 per cent of total health expenditure ($101.1 million); Private, local health providers accounted for 21 per cent of total health expenditure; Total health spending increased 5.2 per cent from FYE 2012, when expenditure had remained flat from 2011 at less than $700 million in total or about $10,500 per person; The rise in total health costs and Bermuda’s declining population combined to produce an overall per capita health spending growth rate of 8.2 per cent from FYE 2012 to FYE 2013; and Life expectancy in Bermuda is lower than in many OECD countries, such as Canada, Australia, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Portugal, despite them spending less per capita on health. The report says: “Health costs have been increasing in many countries and Bermuda has exhibited the same general trend. The persistently high expenditure on health, despite the decline in nominal GDP, indicates the relative resilience of health expenditure to changes in economic conditions. In particular, given that Bermuda’s share of health expenditure to GDP is high compared to OECD countries and that Bermuda’s health expenditure per person is high relative to life expectancy, it will be an important challenge for the country to control this trend while maintaining quality of care and quality of life.” Jennifer Attride-Stirling, chief executive officer of Bermuda Health Council, said the report enabled the Island to track trends in health spending across time and to benchmark Bermuda to other countries. “We are unique among many small island states in being able to produce such accounts. This year’s findings show that health costs continue to rise and highlight that recent declines in population have had a negative impact on per capita health costs. The report also indicates that over one in seven Bermuda healthcare dollars are exported overseas annually, while spending on local private providers declines. The Health Accounts findings provide a significant evidence base to inform policy initiatives to control health costs in Bermuda.”

October 28. Bermuda will receive no payouts from its CCRIF tropical cyclone policy, a CCRIF spokesman said yesterday. While Bermuda is a member of the CCRIF SPC (formerly the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility) and has a CCRIF tropical cyclone policy based on modeled losses from wind and storm surge, the policy did not trigger. Bermuda does not have an excess rainfall policy — which did trigger in the case of Anguilla. In the Caribbean, the tropical weather system caused damage in multiple islands and killed one elderly man in the Dutch territory of St Maarten. A CCRIF report stated: “Tropical Cyclone (TC) Gonzalo affected four CCRIF member countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda and St Kitts and Nevis. Of these countries, only Anguilla and St Kitts and Nevis have Excess Rainfall (XSR) policies.” Commenting after the release of the report, the spokesman added: “While Bermuda does have a CCRIF tropical cyclone policy (which is triggered based on modeled losses from wind and storm surge), the policy did not trigger after the passage of TC Gonzalo. Bermuda does not have an excess rainfall policy.” Yesterday, CCRIF SPC reported they are preparing to make a payout of about $500,000 to the Government of Anguilla under its excess rainfall insurance policy as a result of heavy rains that affected the country during Hurricane Gonzalo. “Gonzalo passed directly over Anguilla as a category one hurricane on 13 October 2014, leaving behind flood-damaged buildings and communities in its wake. Reports from the National Emergency Operations Centre indicated that there was flooding at the Clayton J Lloyd International Airport and the Public Library and other areas in three of the 14 districts.” CCRIF said Anguilla is one of eight CCRIF member countries that purchased excess rainfall coverage in June at the commencement of the 2014/15 policy year. The report described the excess rainfall policy. “Developed by CCRIF, Swiss Re and Kinetic Analysis Corporation (KAC), the excess rainfall product is aimed primarily at extreme high rainfall events of short duration (a few hours to a few days) whether they happen during a hurricane or outside of one. Like CCRIF’s tropical cyclone and earthquake insurance, the excess rainfall product is parametric, which means that a payout can be made quickly (within 14 days) after a rain event that triggers a country’s policy, without waiting for time-consuming damage and loss assessments on the ground. This product was launched by CCRIF in 2013.” This payout is the second payment the Government of Anguilla will receive from CCRIF, stated the report, adding: “In 2010, CCRIF made a payout of US$4,282,733 to Anguilla under its TC policy following the passage of Hurricane Earl, which passed close to the island that August.” Useful website: www.ccrif.org.

October 30. Bermuda-based American Overseas Group (AOG) has acquired Orpheus, which is a specialty writer of non-standard auto (NSA) insurance business in the US. AOG, which was formerly known as Ram Re, is in the process of running off its long-tail financial guaranty business, while building up a property and casualty business. The acquisition of Orpheus “completes the transformation of AOG into a property and casualty insurance holding company”, according to a statement issued by AOG. Last week the Bermuda Stock Exchange-listed company announced it had completed a reverse stock split converting shares with a par value of $1 onto $100 shares on a 100 for one basis. Following the transaction, AOG’s outstanding common shares increased from 27,492 shares to 42,914 shares, net of treasury stock. The company also issued some $43.9 million of senior notes in connection with the transaction. Orpheus, which has 41 employees, had owned 48 percent of AOG’s shares before the transaction. AOG stated: “As a result of the acquisition, the outstanding shares of the company are now widely distributed. No single shareholder currently owns more than 10 percent of the company’s outstanding shares.” Though AOG is incorporated in Bermuda, it is a tax resident of the UK. Its operating subsidiary, American Overseas Reinsurance Company Ltd, is a property/casualty reinsurance company that currently writes short tail non-catastrophe property/casualty reinsurance and historically wrote financial guaranty reinsurance for US and international public finance and structured finance transactions.

October 31. Lingering and widespread blackouts since Tropical Storm Fay 18 days ago have prompted the question of why the Island’s power lines aren’t safely underground. But burying the network of distribution cables comes with its own steep costs, Belco responded — and, contrary to rumor, the utility company never requested a rate increase to put the system underground. The company estimates that the job would take a full decade, at an estimated cost of $375 million, that would force Belco to allocate costs across its customer case at an extra $87 each, per month, for ten years. That is up from the $250 million estimated in 2003, in the aftermath of Hurricane Fabian. A Belco spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette that 100 per cent of the company’s transmission system — the high voltage wires carrying power from the plant to its distribution network — already lie below ground. “Also, approximately half of the distribution system is underground, and new builds are typically done as underground — unless there is some reason that a property owner chooses to forego under grounding, such as cost or logistics,” she said. But for Belco to retroactively embed its above-ground system would present operational challenges along with an exorbitant cost — such as the difficulty of repairs. “Identifying, excavating, repairing and reinstating underground cables can be a time-consuming, labour-intensive process,” she said. “In addition, unless the entire Island is under grounded, a property owner’s under grounding is only going to work up to the first span of overhead lines in the distribution system. If there is a fault anywhere along the overhead spans between the customer and the Central Plant, the under-grounded customer will be without power. In addition, permission to go underground would require the consent of landowners and Government — and some locations on the Island might not be suitable for under-grounding."

October 31. The wealthy Green family is aiming to ditch the Fairmont group as managers of the Hamilton Princess, The Royal Gazette can reveal. Now the row has moved to a New York court as the Greens seek to dump the hotel chain, which also owns and operates the Fairmont Southampton. The battle broke out earlier this year after the Greens wrote to Fairmont to cancel the agreement, which was inherited when the family bought the hotel in 2012. The letter listed a catalogue of complaints including an allegation that Fairmont had favoured its Southampton property over the Princess. But lawyers for Fairmont have denied the claims. And yesterday an arbitrator was appointed by the US District Court, Southern District of New York, to rule on the row. A source familiar with the case said: "We're looking to have this claim arbitrated within the next 120 days." The owners seek to terminate the management agreement and appoint someone else. They feel there are some important conflicts in that they own the one hotel and this one they are just managing and they are very different hotels. The owners of the Hamilton property have also made a tremendous investment in capital improvements in the last year and are looking for the highest type of operation. The letter from Hamilton Properties Ltd, the Greens' company, to the Fairmont Group cites the failure to operate the hotel and all of its facilities and activities consistent with the standard with the standard of conduct required. 

October 31. Potential developers have been given an extra month to submit proposals on how Marginal Wharf can be redeveloped. Bermuda Land Development Company, the landowner, asked for “expressions of interest” on the property in St David’s last month. However, the deadline for ideas to be submitted has been extended from October 17 to November 21. A spokesman for the BLDC told The Royal Gazette: “Due to the effects of Hurricane Gonzalo, the deadline was extended a second time to November 21, 2014 in order to give all respondents an opportunity to participate.” The BLDC has already received a raft development proposals from local and overseas firms to rejuvenate Marginal Wharf. Suzanne Roberts-Holshouser, the St David’s MP who is also the acting chairwoman of the BLDC, said that she had been encouraged by the number of submissions received, although details of the submissions have not been made public. At present, the land around Marginal Wharf is occupied by a handful of boatyards and tradesmen, and large areas of the site have become overgrown and have fallen into disrepair. The berth itself is blighted by the rusting hull of the Niobe Corinthian.

November

November 6. Planning approvals for slate quarrying have been granted for four sites and work can begin immediately. The Department of Planning said the green light had been given to Rocky Heights Quarry off Lolly's Well Road, Smith's; 15 Farmer's Lane, Warwick; 126 Harrington Sound Road, Smith's; and 3 Farm Lane, Hamilton Parish. Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy announced yesterday that the advertisement period for planning applications involving proposals for quarrying operations would be waived for 30 days. This has cut the processing period from between five and six weeks to two days, according to the Ministry. "I would once again like to thank those persons who have heard our call to operate private quarries in light of Fay and Gonzalo," Mr Fahy said. "It is this Government's priority to ensure that no one is left without a roof over their head as a result of the recent storms, which is why we have taken the steps we have this week to expedite the slate quarrying process. I would also like to thank the technical officers at the Department of Planning, who have worked tirelessly to quickly and diligently approve these applications, some in only a matter of hours." The approvals for quarrying have been granted for three months but an extension can be sought if there is a need for slate. The consent granted is for planning permission only and an application for a building permit must be submitted within seven days of quarrying operations commencing. Each quarrying operation must meet several conditions from the Department of Planning and Department of Environmental Protection over the use of a slate cutter. Quarrying can take place only between 7am and 5pm Monday to Saturday and operation is restricted to the area on the site defined on the approved plans. Operation must stop when the stocks of material extracted from the site have been completed. A construction permit and operating licence for the slate cutter must be obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection. Conditions placed on this include that its operation will not result in exhaust emissions adversely impacting on nearby residents, and that noise will be kept to a minimum. Dust from any operation, open storage pile or disturbed surface area should not be visible in the atmosphere beyond the boundary of the premises. Stone-cutting will not be undertaken at any other site than the approved one without prior written approval of the Environmental Authority. When the plant is to be decommissioned, a closure plan shall be submitted in advance to the Department of Environmental Protection for their approval. This must detail the proposed timeframe and steps being taken to ensure that the site poses no threat to health, safety or the environment. For more information, call the Department of Planning on 297-7756.

November 6. The AC45 catamaran flying above the water at speed in the Great Sound will be "a sight to behold", according to Iain Percy, the multiple Olympic gold medallist and world champion. It was announced yesterday that Bermuda will host an America's Cup World Series event, featuring the AC45 catamaran, from October 16 to 18, 2015. Percy, who is team manager of America's Cup challenger Artemis Racing, said: "I think a world series event in Bermuda is really great and hopefully for the Island it's a taster for the America's Cup. The Great Sound is a perfect venue for these kind of boats and we are very excited about Bermuda and it's going to be a great event. It's a good time of the year, Bermuda is a great place to sail and hopefully this is a catalyst for getting more and more people out on the water. These events are short and sweet and people love them." The foiling version of the one-design AC45 is a smaller cousin to the AC72 used in the America's Cup in San Francisco last year. Powered by a highly efficient wing-sail, the catamaran lifts out of the water, riding on hydrofoils which reduce drag and increases speed. "The America's Cup boats and World Series boats are spectacular and the speed which they go and the closeness of the races are really a sight to behold," said Percy, who competed in last month's Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda. "To be able to see these boats can open your eyes in the most stunning ways to what's available within the sport. The boats are spectacular to watch and they excite people all around the world. I think it's going to be an incredible boost to the sailing in Bermuda to see these boats in person." The America's Cup World Series is the first stage of competition in the America's Cup and begins next summer. It runs for two seasons in 2015 and 2016 before the America's Cup qualifiers, play-offs and finals to be held in 2017. Featuring all of the America's Cup teams, the circuit is an early opportunity to put points on the board that carry forward into the next stage of the competition. Overall ranking position in the World Series determines the starting points score of the teams in the America's Cup qualifiers in 2017. Several more World Series events will be added to the calendar as hosting agreements are finalised and subject to the unanimous consent of the teams. "As a team, we are hoping to host one as well in Sweden, so we are negotiating on that," said Percy, who is from Southampton, England. Bermuda and San Diego are the remaining candidates to host the 2017 America's Cup. The host venue is expected to be announced next month.

AC45 catamaran

AC45 Catamaran, see above story

November 6. Bermuda-incorporated and domiciled Lancashire Holdings more than tripled profits to $36.2 million in the third quarter of the year. In the same period in 2013, the firm’s net operating profit totaled $11.2 million — a $25 million increase for quarter three of this year. The firm wrote a total of $152.1 million in gross premiums in the third quarter of this year, compared to $121.6 million in the same quarter of 2013. Earnings per ordinary share also rose — 19 cents per share compared to 13 cents per share for the same period last year. The company declared a special dividend of $1.20 per share. Group CEO Alex Maloney said that 2014 had been a “challenging” year due to a soft patch in the underwriting cycle. But he added: “Managing the cycle is one of the key skills of the Lancashire Group of companies. The market is probably the toughest it has been in Lancashire’s history, but we have the right people, the right strategy and the right platforms to manage the cycle. As a long-standing leader in the specialty insurance and reinsurance lines, the silver lining of the highly competitive market is the ability for Lancashire to maintain its core inwards portfolio while managing net exposures through greatly improved pricing, terms and conditions on the outward placements. Lancashire has always said that we focus on the risk-adjusted return and our net risk for both catastrophe and non-catastrophe exposures is now at an historically low level.” The firm also showed net investment income of $6.7 million in the third quarter of this year — a 9.8 percent increase on the third quarter of 2013. The firm said that the quarter had seen some losses with a combined ratio of 82.4 percent, but overall, the year to date combined ratio of 74.5 percent is a very strong result. Mr Maloney added: “Given the nature of the Lancashire portfolio, individual quarters can fluctuate on the basis if events that are not truly significant on an annual review. The market is not without challenges but the Lancashire business model was always designed in the knowledge that we have to cater for all phases of the cycle. The work we have done over the last couple of years in widening the base of our income and adding to our underwriting resources reinforces our ability to trade successfully through all conditions. We are continuing to match our capital to the available opportunity and the current repurchase of our shares, as well as the announcement of our special dividend, are a continuing demonstration of the active management of our business throughout the cycle.”

Lancashire Insurance Company, Bermuda

See story above

November 6. The final preparations are being made on the new footbridge being constructed at Bailey’s Bay. Tucker Murphy, on behalf of the Friends of Bermuda Railway, said it is hoped the bridge will be complete by the end of this month or the first week of December. “We have placed the last four spans last week and we still have to fill in gaps in the intermediate pieces that need to go in between,” he told The Royal Gazette. “We have taken the measurements and then there are a few more details; mainly the planting because some of the plants we put on the trail got taken out by the storms.” They also plan to host an official launch inviting Friends of Bermuda Railway members, sponsors and residents of Bailey’s Bay. It is the second bridge construction organized by the Friends of Bermuda Railway, with support from donors, volunteer contributions and community support, the first bridge is at Winton Hill, about a quarter of a mile from Bailey’s Bay. The programme could also include bridge sections being put up at Coney Island and across Flatts inlet.

railwaybaileysbaybridge

November 7. Springtime arrivals from cruise ships were up ten percent on the previous year’s figures, but air arrivals in the second quarter dropped by 2.5 percent, with a total of 73,122 visitors coming through LF Wade International Airport. The figures, released from the Department of Statistics, also revealed a modest increase in retail sales, up 1.8 percent, with motor vehicles showing a sharp increase of 27 percent over 2013’s sales. Last year Government allowed liquor sales on Sundays, which may have had an impact on the latest figures with liquor stores taking in 10.5 percent more during the period of April through June. The drop in air arrivals was reflected in a decline of air arrival expenditure, down $12 million to $91 million. The average spending per air visitor also fell from $1,338 to $1,210, which in turn led to a 12.2 percent drop in spending on food and accommodation, and a 9.7 percent drop in goods and services such as recreation and transport. Cruise ship passengers spent $32 million during the three-month period — a rise of $3.3 million. Hotel takings shrank 2.4 percent to $77.7 million, and hotel employment also contracted, by three percent. At the end of April, there were 2,301 people employed in the hotel industry, which was 41 fewer than 2013. Residents coming back from overseas declared purchases of $14.3 million, which was a decline of 6.6 percent on the previous year.

November 7. Government may have scrapped the National Health Plan that was expected, but a Bermuda Health Plan has been proposed for the fresh sitting of Parliament. Health Minister Jeanne Atherden had made brief reference to the plan in September. In today’s Throne Speech, Governor George Fergusson said that it would go ahead. The Bermuda Health Council has warned repeatedly of “unsustainable” year-on-year increases in the Island’s health costs. Mr Fergusson said the Plan would put prior healthcare proposals “in the context of today’s economic climate and re-prioritise health system goals. The purpose of the Bermuda Health Plan is to provide a strategic approach to improve equity, quality and sustainability of our health system.” The speech echoed the National Health Plan that was proposed under the former Progressive Labour Party Government, with the motto of “Healthy People in Healthy Communities.” The Bermuda Health Plan will entail a review of Government’s hospital subsidy to give universal access to healthcare, Mr Fergusson said, as well as expanding the Standard Hospital Benefit. The Standard Hospital Benefit package covers most of the Island’s population. At present, it covers all hospitalization costs and about one third of medically necessary services. Strategies addressing the health needs of seniors and the disabled were promised, plus health promotion programmes aimed at bringing about healthier lifestyles. The NHP was put on hold pending a review in March of last year. It had been billed as delivering universal healthcare by this year.

November 8. The Bermuda High School for Girls (BHS) is now the Island's only school to be accredited by the Council of International Schools, BHS announced this morning. It comes after an evaluation of the school's ethos, faculty and governance by the Council, a global non-profit with more than 400 schools included around the world. Its visiting team found a strong sense of pride and accomplishment that is palpable at BHS, according to Graham Ranger, director of school support and evaluation. Head of school Linda Parker said the accreditation validated BHS's school mission, and the school's chairman of the board of trustees, Joel Schaefer, said it placed BHS firmly among the ranks of leading international schools around the world.

November 8. Bermuda’s power firms are to come under the control of the Regulatory Authority in an attempt to boost competition and promote alternative energy sources. The change was signaled in the Throne Speech, delivered by Governor George Fergusson yesterday. He said: “The Government, in keeping with its strategic goals to ensure a secure supply of energy for the Island and to reduce energy costs, fossil fuel dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, will use the year ahead to achieve regulatory reform and promote alternative energy use.” Mr Fergusson said a new Energy Act would transfer regulation from the Ministry of Education and Economic Development and the Energy Commission to the Regulatory Authority. “This will provide greater clarity and scope to the regulatory decision-making process, an increased level of competition between power producers, equitable interconnection in the grid and the development of a robust licensing regime,” he said, adding that Government will also this year call for proposals to turn the unused airport “finger” into a massive solar panel farm to provide renewable energy for Bermuda. He added that an Energy Summit, to be held next week, would discuss Bermuda’s “energy future, the reform of the energy regulatory environment, the diversification of Bermuda’s energy mix, including the introduction of liquefied natural gas and measures to address energy conservation and efficiency.”

November 8. Bermuda’s financial watchdog is to get new powers to police banks, Government revealed yesterday. Governor George Fergusson, delivering the Throne Speech, said the Bermuda Monetary Authority would be able to intervene in case of “a troubled bank.” He added the move was in line with International Monetary Fund recommendations made in 2008. “To address this recommendation, the Government will bring forward legislation to establish a special resolution regime for banks licensed in Bermuda. The purpose of this resolution is to address the situation where all or part of the business of a bank has encountered, or is likely to encounter, financial difficulties that cannot be resolved by any other means. The Banking Special Resolution Regime Act 2014 will establish a comprehensive bank insolvency framework that would meet international standards and operate independently of general insolvency law.” The speech also said that amendments to legislation would be made to allow the BMA to license money-service businesses — a worldwide growth area. Mr. Fergusson continued: "The growth of money-services businesses globally has created new businesses in line with the changing electronic marketplace. The Authority has been unable to  license these businesses because the money service business regulations do not provide sufficient details for appropriate oversight.. However, changes to 2007 legislation would allow the BMA to license and regulate the industry. Legislation governing the insurance and reinsurance sectors, also policed by the BMA, will be updated in line with global developments. Bermuda banks can address the Island-wide need to increase the flow of credit to help re-flate the economy, providing Bermudians with the support they need for their business ventures, their educational ambitions and their dreams of home ownership. Government was also examining a “reverse mortgage” scheme and talking to the Bermuda Bankers’ Association in an attempt to allow seniors to access money locked up in their homes. There are many elderly people in Bermuda who own their own homes, many valued at more than a million dollars, but who do not have the cash flow to maintain an adequate lifestyle or to pay for rising healthcare costs. Reverse mortgages can be an option for people who want to turn substantial home equity into cash in order to ease these challenges. Banking remained an important earner of foreign exchange for the Island. The Government is concerned about shrinkage in the banking sector, in terms of its lending policies and employee numbers. The Ministry of Finance, as a result, is examining policy reforms to expand and diversify the banking sector and, by extension, Bermuda’s foreign exchange earnings and the capacity for job creation. The Government was in talks with the banks and other interested parties with a view to changing bank and deposit company law. Accountancy firms could also offer community support by donating time for audits and reviews of community clubs required under the Charities Act. Accounting firms can adopt a club in this regard, freeing up precious dollars to support their worthy operations." 

November 8. Revitalizing international business and tourism as the Island's twin pillars is a priority in revitalizing the economy, Government said yesterday. In the Throne Speech it added that it was working on a broad front to rebuild investor confidence in the Island, opening new job and revenue-creating opportunities and new pathways for Bermudians to make a living. This is the context within which changes to immigration, changes in corporate law, negotiations for new hotel developments and the pursuit of the America's Cup can be seen. The Throne Speech, delivered on behalf of the One Bermuda Alliance by Governor George Fergusson, said: "The Government's programme for the year ahead, therefore, will continue to focus on the need to grow the economy and stabilize government finances while implementing a broad range of common sense, progressive measures to improve the quality of life for all Bermudians." The Speech added that more jobs and rising incomes would come as economic activity picked up - and cited the first increase in five years in the Island's gross domestic product, almost one percent for 2013, as evidence that Bermuda was turning the corner. It said that the 72 percent jump last year in new insurance company registrations signaled increases in both traditional and alternative risk transfer sectors, while the 16 percent rise in international company registrations - the highest number added since the recession started in 2008 - was further evidence of a stronger economy. The Speech added that first half of this year showed a six percent reduction in government spending and a 1.1 percent rise in revenue - and predicted 2014-15 as the financial year when the decline would be turned around. "This macroeconomic shift, however, has not yet had an appreciable effect on quality of life across the Island. The Government will continue to put in place confidence-building policies for broad economic recovery, but there clearly is some distance to go before the turnaround generates the level of activity that enables out of work and underemployed Bermudians to regain their role as providers for their families and dependents." Government said that it was committed to boosting the Island's reputation as a stable home for international businesses. "In partnership with the Bermuda Business Development Agency, as well as the private sector, it has been working to diversify and improve the Island's business potential in a number of areas, including fund and asset management, high net worth and trust services and insurance-linked securities," Mr Fergusson said. Government added that it would also introduce legislation aimed at creating limited liability companies (LLCs). "In the private equity arena, the LLC is well established in the United States and coming into greater use in competing jurisdictions, the Speech said. The global recognition of the LLC and its administrative ease and flexibility will strengthen Bermuda's competitiveness." Government also announced a string of amendments to existing legislation to help Bermuda compete effectively with other jurisdictions by providing greater flexibility relating to partnership conversions, re-domiciling, registering of charges and partners' powers. New amendments aimed at beefing up the US-Bermuda tax convention and tax information agreements to boost consistency, transparency and compliance with the latest standards for information exchanges with other countries. The Throne Speech added that there will be new fees for a share of the Island's radio frequency spectrum. The policy has been designed to ensure fair access to the spectrum's frequency bands for all existing and new service providers. The new fee structure was designed to encourage greater competition among service providers, leading to customer benefits such as enhanced network speed and reliability, and more rapid introduction of new mobile products to the market. Mr Fergusson added that Government was committed to increasing cyber security on the Island and completing work on data privacy and protection legislation.

November 10. Bermuda’s “new airport” has been signed into being with a redevelopment agreement between Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, Finance Minister Bob Richards announced this morning. The Island will get a roughly new $200 million terminal building, with the expectation of “hundreds” of construction jobs generated. At a press conference in the Cabinet Office, the Finance Minister hailed the redevelopment plan as “one of the most important capital projects ever undertaken on our island shores”, after signing the agreement with CCC’s Luc Alari. Groundbreaking could commence as early as next year, with the project potentially taking three years to complete. The project will play “a crucial role in the renaissance of the Bermuda economy”, Mr Richards said, under a public-private partnership with CCC. Pledging “value for money”, Mr Alari said CCC “also brings a lot of transparency and governance — we are a Canadian Government organization; this is something we adhere to. We will make sure the project is built on time, on budget and on schedule.” Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell and new Junior Minister Vic Ball also attended the signing, which Mr Crockwell called a historic occasion for Bermuda, delivering a “new, attractive and sophisticated modern facility” that would enhance the Island’s tourism product. “It will impress everyone that passes through it, visitors and locals alike, and it will make that first impression for those coming to Bermuda, a lasting positive impression that is aligned with the Bermuda brand — quality, first class and world class.  The construction of a new purpose built airport terminal is long overdue and this Government was determined to make it happen — we were very cognizant of the many obstacles presented to us and especially the financial implications that could have prevented this from happening. I am most pleased with the financial creativity that has brought us here today. This public private partnership between the Bermuda Government and the Canadian Commercial Corporation does indeed represent a renaissance for Bermuda — to our economy and to our product. I know that we can all agree that the success of this project will be legendary.” Construction is expected to take three years, in a new location that Mr Richards said would be “between the roundabout and Stonecrusher Corner.” The project’s financing model demanded “total transparency, adhering to international best practices”, he said. Mr Richards added that the redevelopment would require no initial expenditure by Bermuda — and that the project would be financially self-sustaining. CCC will select a Canadian developer, as its remit is to concentrate solely on Canadian entities. Title to the airport and adjacent lands will remain with the Bermuda Government. The project did not go out to international tender.

November 10. Financial services holding company Somers Ltd has appointed Mark Brown as a consultant to advise and assist in the ongoing management and development of its UK and Irish investment portfolio. Mr Brown is also being appointed as executive chairman of Westhouse Holdings plc. Mr Brown has significant experience in both large and small investment banks with a strong research and wealth management background. He started his career as an economist and top-rated market strategist at HM Treasury and UBS respectively. He went on to be global head of research for ABN AMRO and HSBC, and was also the chief executive of ABN’s UK equities business. More recently, Mr Brown led the successful turnaround of Arbuthnot Securities followed by Collins Stewart Hawkpoint. Somers chairman Warren McLeland said: “Mark Brown brings a breadth of experience and leadership in the UK financial services sector to Somers and his involvement will allow Somers to continue to develop and enhance its UK investments.” Somers Limited is a listed financial services investment holding company whose major assets include its 100 percent owned subsidiary, Bermuda Commercial Bank Limited, one of Bermuda’s four licensed banks and a 62.5 percent holding in Waverton Investment Management Limited, a UK wealth manager with over US$8.7 billion assets under management. The Group’s other investments include an approximate 68 percent economic interest in the London Stock Exchange listed Private & Commercial Finance Group PLC, a UK asset financing company, an 84.6 percent stake in Westhouse Holdings PLC, a corporate and institutional stock broking group, a 30 percent economic interest in Ascot Lloyd Holdings Limited, a UK independent financial adviser and a 21 percent economic interest in Merrion Capital Holdings Limited, an Irish financial services group.

November 12. The Bermuda insurance market writes $25 billion of business, which makes it more than half the size of the dominant London market, the latter now at a tipping point with its position under threat, according to a just-released study reported in the London Market Group's online publication LMG. The numbers were reported by LMG and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) which have published the results of market research into commercial insurance and reinsurance. The study included more than 300 interviews with customers and market participants around the globe. It stated the competitive position of the London insurance market, addresses the current status and future prospects of the market and reveals that London's position as the undisputed global hub for commercial insurance is under threat. It reported the London Market, the largest global hub for commercial and specialty risk, reached $60 billion of gross written premium in 2013, with $45 billion of this written in London and backed by London capital. The study shows that, based on business written in London alone, the market ($45bn) is nearly double the size of Bermuda ($25bn) and Zurich ($19bn) and 11 times bigger than Singapore ($4bn). The authors warned the study's findings are also a strong reminder of the role the London Market plays in supporting the UK economy separately and distinct form the rest of the UK insurance industry. The Market contributed $30 billion to UK GDP in 2013, which is 21 per cent of the total GDP contribution of The City and eight per cent of total London GDP. It employs a collective 48,000 people throughout the UK and 34,000 in London alone. It also plays a role in supporting the broader global economy by paying large claims every year, including for specialist risks which are hard to cover elsewhere. A total of 94 FTSE 100 companies are covered by the London Market and in the last five years more than $140 billion in claims has been paid to policyholders. But the 300-year-old market is at a tipping point, warn LMG and BCG. The report states analysis reveals that London is only tracking global growth in commercial insurance, while it is losing its share in reinsurance: London's share declined from 15 percent to 13 percent between 2010 and 2013. Furthermore, London, heavily reliant on the UK, US, Australia and Canadian markets, is failing to capture the emerging market opportunity. Only 0.5 percent of the absolute growth in emerging market premiums in markets such as Latin America, Asia and Africa, was placed in London. Its share of the Asian insurance market, for example, is currently just two percent. More than half of future growth will come from emerging markets, meaning that London's global leadership will become increasingly challenged.

November 12. Hollywood star Michael Douglas was joined by dignitaries and invited guests this morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new $85 million hotel development at Ariel Sands. The planned luxury resort, of which Mr Douglas will be a part-owner, will feature 85 residences in 33 cottages, along with a fine dining restaurant, spa, salon and gym. A cottage belonging to Mr Douglas’s mother, Bermudian Diana Dill, has been renovated and is being used as the showroom for the future redevelopment. Another cottage was demolished this morning as part of the ceremony. Mr Douglas told the gathering he had his first birthday on the property, spent time there during the 1950s and mid 1960s and was there more recently with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and their two children. The actor said for him the project went beyond a business deal. “It’s about immortality, continuity of generations and maintaining the spirit of the original project,” he said. The project was announced on social media by Mr Douglas in April. He has partnered with Seth Weinstein of Olympic Property Partners, Somers Management, Onsite Engineering and Quarterly Architects on the redevelopment. The resort will include a beach club house with restaurant and bar and fresh water pool overlooking the beach and will be managed as an independent boutique hotel affiliated with an international reservation and marketing group. Mr Douglas thanked the Government of Bermuda and the Bermuda Tourism Authority for their help and co-operation in getting the project off the ground. Ms Zeta-Jones was unable to attend today’s ceremony.

Michael Douglas and Premier, November 2014

November 12. Michael Douglas, Ariel Sands’ part-owner and Hollywood actor, is to actively promote the Island to a global audience, according to Bermuda Tourism Authority chairman Bill Hanbury. Mr Hanbury said the authority had held conversations with Mr Douglas about raising the Island’s profile ahead of groundbreaking on the Ariel Sands’ $85 million hotel redevelopment that began today. Speaking to The Royal Gazette, Mr Hanbury said: “Michael is interested in helping us not only to promote the BTA but also to promote Bermuda to a global audience. He has terrific reach, particularly in the social media world, and we want to take him up on that offer. We think he is a great spokesperson for Bermuda, so whatever he does to promote Bermuda is of value to us. The announcement of the redevelopment is very important and we believe that a new product like that, with two terrific Bermuda supporters like Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, are of high value in the market place and we are going to fully take advantage of that. He certainly is interested in this development — it made economic sense to them. I would suggest that they are not just doing this out of the goodness of their hearts by any stretch of the imagination. It is a very strong concept that works really well with Bermuda as a product, so we are fired up about it.” New York-based Olympic Property Partners have been confirmed as the developers. The company has developed and owned several million square feet of commercial property. OPP principal Seth Weinstein is expected to be present today at the groundbreaking, along with Michael Dunkley. The Premier will be joined at the site by Shawn Crockwell, the Minister of Tourism, Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, and Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Public Works. Mr Douglas, whose mother Diana Dill is Bermudian, announced via social media in April that he would be redeveloping the site, which has been owned by his family for 60 years. He posted: “Just returned from Bermuda, the home of my mother’s family for the last 400 years. The family has had a cottage colony called Ariel Sands for the past 60 years. Now we are building a new one ... very exciting.” The hotel, which Mr Douglas part-owns with the other members of the Dill family, opened in 1954 and closed in 2008. It has sat empty ever since, pending development. A number of potential deals have fallen through since then, including in 2006 when the Hilton Grand Vacation Club was to partner with Ariel Sands in a timeshare villa, spa, restaurant and hotel development.

Michael Douglas in Bermuda

November 12. Bermuda’s strict immigration laws are a drag on the economic regeneration of the Island, an expert said yesterday. Peter Everson, a business consultant and former Chamber of Commerce spokesman on the economy, said: “Immigration policy and law as they stand have been a huge negative for the economy over the past ten years.” But he said the OBA’s commitment, backed by last week’s Throne Speech, could revitalize the economy by making it easier for overseas businesses to set up shop on the Island. The Throne Speech, Government’s blueprint for the coming Parliamentary year delivered by Governor George Fergusson, said: “The primary aim is to invigorate the engines of the economy — principally tourism and international business — because of their potential to improve the lives of more people more quickly than anything else. To achieve this, the Government is working on a broad front to rebuild investor confidence in the Island, opening new job and revenue-creating opportunities and new pathways for Bermudians to make a living. This is the context within which reforms to immigration, changes in corporate law, negotiations for new hotel developments and the pursuit of the America’s Cup can be seen.” But Mr Everson said that much depended on the kind of amendments proposed — and Civil Service speed in implementing new legislation. The Throne Speech was simply a legislative agenda. "It’s not the be all and end all of what the Government is going to do. It’s the legislative agenda — a good chunk of what the voters are looking for — jobs, increased investment, investment in the country — don’t have to depend on changing laws, but getting good direction with the laws already there. The question is then ‘how good are the prevailing laws. I've assumed the Throne Speech’s main thrusts were prepared after discussion with a wide range of the community, including the business sector. They say they have been busy discussing investment prospects, both locally and with overseas investors and I’m assuming the Throne Speech was based on that feedback.” The Chamber of Commerce said it welcomed the Throne Speech emphasis on rebuilding the economy and dealing with the country’s debt. A spokeswoman said: “The Chamber endorses the focus on growing the economy and stabilizing Government’s finances. Plans to create an America’s Cup Act would assist the bid for the money-spinning races. Proposals to create a new corporate entities, Limited Liability Companies, (LLCs) were also backed by the Chamber. Education and its support of business is a major determinant of success and we support the changes mentioned in that area.” The Throne Speech also warned that the Island’s healthcare system was not “financially sustainable in the long term” and signaled a new Health Care Plan. Governor Mr Fergusson said: “To address the strain the cost of healthcare places on families and Bermuda’s economy and to provide the most effective care possible, the Government will introduce the Bermuda Health Plan, which will put prior healthcare proposals in the context of today’s economic climate and re-prioritise health system goals. The purpose of the Bermuda Health Plan is to provide a strategic approach to improve equity, quality and sustainability of our health system. Its mission, and that of the Ministry, is Healthy People in Healthy Communities.” The Chamber spokeswoman said: “Healthcare and related costs is of particular interest to our members and we are interested to hear more of the Bermuda Health Plan. And East End members of the Chamber would be eager to hear more information about Throne Speech proposals to upgrade the shipping channels in the area."

November 13. Bermuda has been recommended for approval as a qualified jurisdiction by a working group of the US regulatory support organization the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). If the recommendation is approved, it will reduce collateral requirements for Bermuda reinsurers who do business in the US. The NAIC is the US standard-setting organization created and governed by the country's chief insurance regulators from the 50 US States, District of Columbia and five US territories. Bermuda financial regulator the Bermuda Monetary Authority said in a statement this afternoon that the NAIC's Qualified Jurisdiction Working Group released its Summary of Findings and Determination for public consultation today. If approved by the full NAIC membership, Bermuda would be placed on the NAIC's first List of Qualified Jurisdictions effective January 1, 2015 BMA CEO Jeremy Cox said this was a considerable achievement. "The United States remains Bermuda's largest trading partner. As such, being approved as a qualified jurisdiction is highly relevant for Bermuda in terms of potentially facilitating efficiencies in the cross-border operations of Bermuda reinsurers with the US insurance market. While we recognize the process is not yet complete, we look forward to receiving the NAIC's final approval in the coming weeks." The Working Group's recommendation went on to say that Bermuda's status as a Qualified Jurisdiction is applicable to (re)insurers licensed as Class 3A, Class 3B and Class 4, and Long-Term insurers of Class C, Class D and Class E. It also recommended that the Authority be re-evaluated every five years after 1st January 2015. "Approval under the Process for Developing and Maintaining the NAIC List of Qualified Jurisdictions (the NAIC Process) means that Bermuda-domiciled reinsurers licensed in the above classes will be eligible to be certified for reduced reinsurance collateral requirements under the NAIC's Credit for Reinsurance Model Law," the BMA stated. Up to 240 Bermuda companies may stand to benefit from the NAIC decision, including some of the Island's largest insurers and reinsurers, many of them represented by the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR). In August 2013, the Authority was the first insurance supervisor to agree to participate in an expedited review under the NAIC Process. In December 2013, Bermuda was granted conditional qualified jurisdiction status and the Authority continues to fully participate with the NAIC. The NAIC Process was developed to evaluate the regulatory frameworks of non-US jurisdictions for reinsurance collateral reduction purposes.

November 13. Courting air arrivals is the top priority for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, with air visitor numbers down almost four percent for the year to date. Marketing the Bermuda experience by encouraging online pictures and videos is part of the organization's new strategy for getting the numbers up. “It’s the most important definer of our success — we will be judged on air arrivals more than any other statistic,” said Bill Hanbury, CEO of the authority. The BTA’s marketing strategy is heavy on the use of social media, but still devotes about 40 percent of its expenditure to a print campaign. The BTA has received $25.6 million in its first fiscal year — a “significant decline from previous investments in tourism”, Mr Hanbury said. The authority, launched seven months ago, also inherited “several agreements that we have to honour and that probably have not helped us”, he said. Currently there is a Request for Proposal out for a new advertising agency. The organization is also looking to take over the service at Bermuda’s visitor information centres, starting with Dockyard. Victoria Isley, the Authority’s chief sales and marketing office, said the BTA’s strategy was aimed at reaching would-be visitors with “authentic stories about Bermuda”. The BTA recently collaborated with Travel and Leisure Magazine to bring two US photographers to the Island with an influential Instagram campaign that reached hundreds of thousands of their followers, she said.

November 17. A Los Angeles-based firm has launched a new Bermuda reinsurer. Crabel Re, set up by global alternative investment firm Crabel Capital Holdings, will use the Multi-Strat Re platform for its underwriting and reinsurance operations. The move allows Crabel Capital, which manages a total of $1.7 billion for its clients, to enter the reinsurance market more easily and also to focus on the investment management side of the business. Toby Crabel, founder and CEO of Crabel Capital, said: "Reinsurance offers a unique opportunity to raise capital and manage assets for the firm. Our goal is always to provide the best possible products and services to our clients and reinsurance will provide one more option moving forward." The firm aims to use Crabel Re to to underwrite reinsurance business and invest the premium float in its short-term systematic trading strategy, Crabel Multi-Product. Mr Crabel, who had three years as a professional tennis player, made his name as a commodities trader. In 2005, the Financial Times described him as "the most well-known trader on the counter-trend side." Multi-Strat Re is designed to help asset managers get into reinsurance, with the option to break away and become independent reinsurers in the future. Crabel Capital focuses on futures and foreign currency trading and was a pioneer in short-term trading, The firm offers diversified systematic products with low correlation to traditional asset classes.

November 17. Bermuda continues to spend more than it earns, the Ministry of Finance reported today. Government took in $443.5 million and spent $459.4 million during the first half of the fiscal year. Spending was said to be $28.5 million, or 5.8 per cent lower than the same period for the previous fiscal year. The figures did not include debt service costs, which added up to $80.5 million for the six months ending in September: $56.7 million in interest payments, plus a $23.8 million contribution to the Sinking Fund for government borrowing. The debt service to date was $19.1 million more than the same period for last year, owing to higher debt levels. According to a Ministry spokesman, the interest payments on Bermuda's debt consumed 12.8 per cent of Government's revenues. He said the average was 4.1 per cent of revenue for comparable countries. Under the existing Budget, Bermuda has a revenue target of $902 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, with an expenditure of $1.1 billion, including debt service. With a capital expenditure of $61.9 million for this fiscal year, the Island will have a projected deficit of $267.3 million. The spending is $14 million less than it was by September of last year. Financial Assistance is above budget because of increased demand and the cost of damages inflicted by Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo have yet to be accounted for. Customs duty is down by nearly 8 per cent, or $7.6 million, but the reduction has been offset by increased collections in payroll tax of $3.1 million and other revenues totalling $2.8 million. In a review of the Island's economic performance, the Ministry also released figures said to be consistent with the forecasts in the 2014 National Economic Report of Bermuda. Difficult economic conditions continued through the year, but the spokesman reported some positive indicators that show certain sectors of the economy are improving. The consumer price index for the year until September was 2.4 per cent, while the 12-month average rate was 1.9 per cent. Imports decreased by 2.3 per cent in the first two quarters, registering $476 million. The bulk of the drop was attributed to a decline in fuel imports. Air arrivals as of September had fallen by 3.6 per cent, while cruise arrivals rose 8.3 per cent, adding up to a rise of almost 4 per cent for visitor arrivals over last year. The Island saw 535 new international companies and partnerships registered in the first six months of this year, up 13.4 per cent on last year's figure of 472.The total value of new construction projects begun in the first half of 2014 rose by almost one half, to $26.1 million. There was also a modest rise in retail sales during the first nine months of the year. Retail was up 0.24 per cent, or $5.7 million.

Minister of Finance

Minister of Finance giving above figures

November 18. QBE Re, the specialist reinsurance division of QBE Insurance Group, has announced it is establishing an underwriting operation in Bermuda through the creation of a branch of QBE Re (Europe) Limited. A QBE statement explained they had decided to make the move to Bermuda "in order to access locally the business that emanates from this important market." The Bermuda Monetary Authority confirmed the October 8 Bermuda registration of QBE Re in a release yesterday. A QBE statement announcing the establishment of the operation stated: "This initiative will enhance QBE Re's global infrastructure, designed to combine local expertise and customer focus in the major reinsurance markets." In Bermuda, QBE Re will be licensed to operate as a Class 4 reinsurer and will be writing property and casualty treaty business. Class 4 insurers and reinsurers underwrite direct excess liability insurance and/or property catastrophe reinsurance risks, and are required to maintain minimum capital and surplus of $100 million. Heading the Bermuda operations will be Erik Soria who is transferring from QBE Re's New York office. Mr Soria will report to Jonathan Parry, chief underwriting officer, QBE Re, which is based in London. QBE's global reinsurance division was formed in 2012 when the QBE Insurance Group took the decision to align its worldwide treaty reinsurance capabilities, the re/insurer has said, and described the move as a reflection of the group's long term commitment to the international reinsurance market. QBE Re's global platform offers clients the flexibility of both Company (A+ Standard & Poor's) and Lloyd's security. In 2015, QBE Re plans to underwrite US$1 billion gross written premium split across property, casualty and specialty classes. Mr Parry is quoted saying: "With QBE Re now firmly established following its launch in 2012, we have taken the decision to enhance our distribution base and access locally the business that emanates from this important market. Our branch in Bermuda will complement our existing operations in London, Dublin, New York and Brussels, and will provide an additional platform for growth as we develop and scale up our business worldwide. Along with the registration of QBE Re, two agents, Ascot Underwriting (Bermuda) Limited and Multi-Strate Advisors Ltd, were also confirmed for October.

November 20. Bermuda's new airport terminal would include maximum shopping and restaurant options, as well as jetways at eight gates to protect passengers from the elements. Aaron Adderley, head of the Department of Airport Operations, told The Royal Gazette that part of its revenue could come from re-purposing vacant runway space for alternative energy. Mr Adderley also cautioned that the figure of $200 million cited as a price tag by Finance Minister Bob Richards was by no means final, even if it had become ingrained in the public's mind. Government sealed an agreement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation on November 10 to build a re-purposed terminal, which would be gradually paid off under a tailored public-private partnership. Asked about airport revenues, Mr Adderley pointed out that while the layout of the Government figures made the airport look like a money-losing venture, LF Wade International Airport actually takes in $3million to $3.5m annually when departure tax is factored in. "The numbers are not strong enough to pay for $200 million," Mr Adderley said. "Future revenue streams had to be capable of ensuring financial viability." Converting the vacant finger of runway into a solar energy facility has been discussed for several years now. According to a 2011 Belco report, the runway, which juts south of the airport into Castle Harbour, could accommodate an 80-acre solar farm. Mr Adderley said the airport would benefit substantially from any such re-purposing. "It's high on our agenda and is part of our three-year strategic plan. The alternative energy site is critical. Even if we didn't have this project, from an operational standpoint our need is two fold: increase our revenues and decrease our costs. Alternative energy is an option which would certainly allow us to minimise our power consumption costs. We have to wait for other legislative regulatory changes to be advanced by another Ministry before we can finally move forward. A new terminal would necessarily have modest retail options, given Bermuda's limited traffic. We're never going to have the volume necessary to justify having a retail mall. However, we want to ensure that there is a choice in food and beverage offerings and retail goods in general. We have a fine line to walk to ensure that there is enough of a choice for passengers, but at the same time, ensuring that there is enough passenger volume to sustain multiple vendors. Aspects of the design, plus the new location at the west end of the airport, date back to a 2008 master plan that had been too good to leave sitting on someone's desk unused.  That plan called for the proposed site that we will be using for the new development. It was chosen to avoid the storm surge that threatens the existing site located so close to Castle Harbour. It will also enable us to minimise the amount of work we have to do with our taxi ways and apron network. There will be a need for some changes to the network, but it will be minimized. Our objective is to take those initial design concepts and modify it to ensure that it fits within the new financial parameters we have for the project. Parts of the terminal facility date back to the 1940s and we have met or exceeded its life expectancy. Though we've done a fair job in hiding the warts so to speak, the roofing in parts of the facility, plumbing, sewage and other mechanical systems, are in need of replacement in many instances. The cost of maintaining an ageing infrastructure is highly cost prohibitive."

2014 airport plan

Airport plan envisaged, see above signed by Luc Allary, regional director Caribbean and Central America with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, and Minister of Finance Bob Richards. (File photo by Mark Tatem).

November 21. The Bermuda re/insurance market paid out $1.25 billion in claims resulting from 2010's catastrophic windstorm Xynthia, a 37 per cent share, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister ET (Bob) Richards said in a speech to the Bermuda Society in London last week, and called the role of the Island's industry indispensable to the global economy. The Bermuda market had also paid out $222 million in claims for the Air France Southern Atlantic disaster, $800 million for the Costa Concordia ocean liner accident and $600 million for the Buncefield oil platform fire. Mr Richards said: "Today, Bermuda fulfills an indispensable role in the global economy by protecting people and business against catastrophic events. The protection from such risks frees up investment in productive enterprises around the world and thereby fosters global economic growth. The US rating agency Standard & Poor's regularly analyses Bermuda, and they say Bermuda boasts 16 of the top 40 reinsurance companies in the world; two in the top ten. In comparison Europe has 11 of the top 40; and the USA has six of the top 40. Bermuda's share in global reinsurance premiums is 16 per cent, compared to Europe at 56 per cent, USA at 19 per cent and Asia at nine per cent. In the property and catastrophe market, Bermuda is the single most important market, with 37 per cent of the risk being placed here. The Bermuda market supports nearly half a million jobs globally. In fact, Bermuda's contribution to the global economy more than merely protects against risks that inhibit global economic growth." Bermuda's economic model actually creates and supports jobs, not just in Bermuda but in onshore trading partners. Charles Ludolph, former senior economist in the US Commerce Department, conducts economic studies on the impact of Bermuda's international business sector on onshore economies. In terms of employment, he estimates Bermuda-based enterprises support in excess of 350,000 jobs in the US and upward of 100,000 jobs here in the UK. "All over the world business people and investors are continually searching for that compelling value proposition to invest in. I think you can now agree that Bermuda's international business sector provides a compelling value proposition to the world economy." Mr Richards said that despite its critical global role, Bermuda business faces a hostile environment. "The great recession has put great stress on many institutions which have heretofore carried the aura of functionality," he said. Noting the cracks have been laid bare for all to see, he pointed to bilateral tax agreements as one of those institutions. "The system of bilateral tax agreements never anticipated the information age. It was built to handle the taxation of trade in physical products. The age of the internet has changed all that and the system can't cope. Unlike most other nations, Bermuda's tax system is designed for a country that imports virtually everything. Our tax system - and we do have taxes - was built on taxing imports, a system that dates back over 100 years. Customs duties still form a major component of our tax revenues as well as payroll taxes and a myriad of different fees. So the notion that Bermuda has geared its tax system to attract offshore business is false. But if you listen to some commentators you would think that not charging corporate income tax is downright immoral. Bermuda Government revenues total about 16 per cent of GDP. By comparison, US federal tax revenues total 19 per cent of their GDP, same ballpark. We do not differentiate between international companies domiciled in Bermuda and local companies, so-called ring fencing certain companies for tax purposes. All companies are treated the same insofar as our taxes are concerned. I have been forthright in my conversation with you this evening because I am in the company of friends, friends of Bermuda. Bermuda is living in a hostile international environment and we need your help in telling the real Bermuda story. There is so much disinformation out there in the popular media. Help us tell the real Bermuda story and you will help Bermuda."

November 27. Entrepreneurs seeking funding to launch tourism-related ventures should hear next week whether their proposals have been successful. The Bermuda Tourism Authority's Tourism Experiences investment scheme offers grants totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars to those keen to break into the industry and attract more visitors to the Island. Applications had to be submitted by last month, with successful persons due to be notified tomorrow. But this deadline has been pushed back to next Friday after a one-week extension granted to applicants as a result of last month's twin storms. "The quality of the 2015 applicant pool is very strong and we don't want to cut the review process short," said Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief of product and experiences for the BTA. "As we interview applicants, we are consistently impressed with their entrepreneurial talents and how much attention they have put towards trying to deliver the kind of home-grown ideas that visitors tell us they want. We look forward to sharing the outcome of our review process next week. For more information about Tourism Experiences Investment, visit www.gotobermuda.com/bermudatourism/Forms/Tourism-Experiences-Investment/.

November 27. A book detailing Bermuda's connections to the British monarchy has been published just in time for Christmas. "Royal Bermuda" is a collaboration between The National Museum of Bermuda's executive director Dr Edward Harris and journalist Rosemary Jones, of Brimstone Media. The book provides a pictorial history of events since 1609, when the Island was colonized by the English, with chapters devoted to every official visit by the Queen since 1953. The collector's edition includes details of other royal visits since the Victorian Age, profiles local collectors of royal memorabilia and includes a timeline with mini-biographies of monarchs who helped to shape our history. "We hope Bermudians, whether monarchists or not, will enjoy the nostalgia of many of the book's images of royal visits taken around the Island over the past several decades, as well as the fascinating story of royal influence on Bermuda life generally, from our maritime heritage to tourism, defence, currency and, indeed, daily life," Dr Harris said. Royal Bermuda includes more than 350 photographs taken from public and private collections, including photos of the Queen's seven visits to Bermuda, five of which were with Prince Philip, as well as visits by other royals, including George V, Edward VIII, Princess Margaret, Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales. The book includes photos of regal artefacts, icons and hallmarks that include currency, stamps, street signs and Royal Mail pillar boxes. Honorees who received royal orders and honours for civil, diplomatic and military service are listed. Designed by Brimstone's Paul Shapiro, Royal Bermuda was launched as a result of a committee established by Paula Cox, the former Premier, to co-ordinate its production under the auspices of the National Museum. One chapter focuses on the island-wide Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Royal Bermuda is on sale for $30 and is available at local bookstores, and from the Museum.

November 29. Debate over the proposed airport redevelopment erupted in the House of Assembly again after Finance Minister Bob Richards tabled a draft letter of entrustment from the UK. Mr Richards told the House that while the Government is of the legal position that the entrustment would not be necessary, the Ministry remains in talks with Government House to ensure that all parties are on board, describing it as "a matter of belts and braces. We have a long-term relationship with the UK Government and we want to keep that relationship so we want everyone on board. Just because we ask someone doesn't mean we're required to ask someone." Government announced earlier this month that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) to redevelop the LF Wade International Airport. Under the proposed deal, Bermuda would receive a state of the art $200 million air terminal, which would be gradually paid for using future revenues. However, the Progressive Labour Party has repeatedly attacked the proposal, describing it as "privatization through the back door without a tendering process." Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Richards said the Ministry came to the decision that they did not require a letter of entrustment after receiving legal advice from international law firm Bennett Jones, with the office of the Attorney General involved. Asked by Opposition members if the law firm had a relationship with CCC, Mr Richards said he was not aware of any and that if there was a conflict of interest the firm would be required to say so. He was then asked if he was aware that Bennett Jones had represented CCC in respect to a review of engineering firm SNC-Lavalin. Mr Richards said he did not know about it but that it had "nothing to do with Bermuda." Questioned by Opposition Leader Marc Bean about how CCC was selected, Mr Richards said he and the Ministry was aware of CCC through their experience in the financial services industry and the Canadian body had ticked all the boxes.  Mr Richards also responded to a series of questions regarding the project's time line, reiterating that he received approval from the Accountant General to move forward with the project before the Memorandum of Understanding had been signed, however he declined to provide the House with a copy of the Accountant General's approval. "If this matter ever goes to the Public Accounts Committee, they can do what they want to do, but I don't believe it's appropriate to question my veracity on the floor of the House," he said. He later added that under PATI legislation the public will be able to request such information. The Finance Minister also stated that the first draft entrustment letter was received prior to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with CCC, but that the Cabinet had already approved the MOU in July. "We had a legal opinion that we didn't need a letter of entrustment and on that basis we scheduled the signing and the announcement of the signing of the MOU. It's the view of the Government that the letter of entrustment was not required. It's not relevant."

November 29. Friends and family have paid tribute to one of Bermuda's most celebrated and well respected businessmen who died this week. Fernance Perry passed away in Atlanta on Thursday, just two days after his 93rd birthday. Mr Perry was renowned for running the Piggly Wiggly shop and expanding the small corner store into a grocery empire that is now part of the MarketPlace Group. He first arrived in Bermuda as a young child in 1926 with his parents, Manuel and Emily, from the Azores. Mr Perry was the eldest of five brothers, Manuel, Frank, John, Joe and Donald and two sisters, sisters Esther and Mary, and the siblings grew up in the Devonshire Spring Road area. His brothers described him as a dedicated family man. Joe Perry told The Royal Gazette: "Fernance was the provider. He helped raise us all and he always looked out for us. He worked for Dunkley's for many years and then moved to Miles as a butcher. Every penny he earned he would bring home and spend on providing for his family. Fernance never worried about a watch. If there was work to be done he would get it done. He was stern with his staff, but always fair and professional. He was an incredibly hard worker both physically and spiritually. More than anything he was a good man. Fernance always showed a great example. When he first set up he did not have any funds and no one gave him anything. But he built everything up from scratch and never borrowed money. What he has left behind all comes from hard work." Meanwhile John Perry, who worked with brother for 30 years, said: "He practically brought the bread in for the rest of the family. He was the head man in the family. He was like a second dad. Fernance was honest and faithful. When he worked for Miles he always made sure we had a turkey for Christmas. He took care of a lot of people in his life, but he never bragged about it or anything like that. What he did was between him and the Lord." Mr Perry served with the Bermuda Rifle Corps in the Second World War. When he returned to the Island he entered the grocery business, purchasing the Piggly Wiggly with Samuel Pimental. Mr Perry served as the Chairman of the Bermuda Hospitals Board from 1989 to 1991 when more than $13.8m in improvements were completed. In recognition of his contribution to healthcare on the Island the Harbour Ward was renamed the Perry Ward. Mr Perry was the majority shareholder with the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, which owns both ZBM and ZFB. He was also chairman and CEO of Mayfair Ltd, a holding company, and majority owner of real estate management firm Devonshire Properties. In 2006, he was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Queen. Long-time friend and former employee, Bobby Barton, 86, said: "Fernance was a man who knew what he wanted and he worked hard to get it. He always had his eyes firmly set on future and he made it happen. If it was not for him I would have never owned a home. What he did for his brothers he also did for me. Fernance was a man who worked his way all the way to the top. He spoke his mind and people respected him for that."

November 29. Family and friends are grieving the death of well known sailor David Ashton, who passed away on November 21. He was 62. Mr Ashton died from complications following surgery in a Boston hospital. He was a veteran of multiple Newport Bermuda Races, including the 2012 race aboard the Spirit of Bermuda. He was also co-founder of the local J-24 yacht class and represented Bermuda at the J-24 World Championships in the United States. In the 1970s, Mr Ashton owned a boat rental company and also operated a performance keelboat sailing school, using J-24s as the design of choice. More recently he was a member of the International One Design Class of Bermuda and owner of the IOD sloop, Slingshot. Sacha Simmons, the IOD class executive, said: "We are all very devastated by this tragic loss of such a young member of our fleet and such a good guy. He's a great guy and was always very supportive. Even though he hasn't been able to do a lot of sailing the last three years because of health issues, he was still as supportive as he could be. He loaned his boat for the Argo Group Gold Cup and Bermuda International Invitational Race Week and was just a great supportive along with his wife, Cindy. We are very, very upset about the whole thing and on behalf of the IOD Class we send our condolences to his family." Paul Doughty, a former business partner of Mr Ashton, described the late sailor as a "reckoning force" in competitive sailing." He was a very good racing sailor because obviously he earned the right to go the J-24 World Championships," Mr Doughty said. "Usually when he skippered a boat he was fiery and we used to have a saying "which one is it today? Is it Sugar Bear or is it Grumpy Bear?" It was because he was very bear like. David is a great loss to the local community and was always a supporter of any sailing event. My condolences go out to his family." Members of the local IOD class will pay tribute to Mr Ashton during a ceremony at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club today. At the time of his death Mr Ashton was joint-owner and manager of Greenbank Guesthouse in Paget. A statement on the guest house's Facebook page read: "It is with great sadness that the family of David William Ashton announces his passing on November 21, 2014. The Ashton family has owned and managed Greenbank Guesthouse since 1952, and David dedicated his time, love and energy to Greenbank and its guests for over twenty years, along with his wife, Cindy. Many of our guests will remember David sharing the history of the property and of Bermuda, and his passion for his Island home. David will be greatly missed by his family, friends and many of Greenbank's loyal guests." A memorial service for Mr Ashton will be announced at a later date.

December

December 1. Bermuda’s undersea communications cables are monitored by UK and US security services, according to documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. The documents — the latest to be revealed after the whistle-blower computer expert released data obtained while working for the US security services — show that the Cable & Wireless and GlobeNet cables from Bermuda are monitored by the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which works closely with the NSA. According to reports, Cable & Wireless, taken over by UK telecommunications giant Vodafone in 2012, worked with GCHQ and provided the most data to GCHQ — and received millions of dollars in compensation for its assistance. On-Island services once provided by Cable & Wireless are now run by LinkBermuda — but the firm still uses a Cable & Wireless connection to the US. “It is longstanding policy not to comment on security issues so I can go no further than that,” Deputy Governor Ginny Ferson said. US Consul General Bob Settje is off the Island and had not commented by press time. The claims came as a result of a joint investigation by German media and the UK TV station Channel 4, based on documents leaked by Snowden, who is now living in Russia. A spokesman for Vodafone told Channel 4 that an internal investigation had found no unlawful conduct — but stopped short of a denial. “What we have in the UK is a system based on warrants, where we receive a lawful instruction from an agency or an authority to allow them to have access to communications data on our network,” the spokesman said. “We have to comply with that warrant and we do and there are processes for us to do that which we’re not allowed to talk about because the law constrains us from revealing these things. We don’t go beyond what the law requires.” The Royal Gazette reported earlier this year that a loophole in the deal banning the US from spying on the UK and other close allies — Canada, Australia and New Zealand — excluded the UK Overseas Territories because the NSA interception system would be slowed down too much if they were excluded as well. But US security expert William Arkin, who worked in US intelligence in West Berlin at the height of the Cold War, said that the NSA had no need to spy on Bermuda — because the UK or Bermudian authorities would do it for them. “The United States and its four closest allies collect intelligence on everything they perceive to be of interest,” Mr Arkin said. He explained that America may want intelligence for threat assessment on ports where its ships visited — or information on money laundering, terrorist activity or tax avoidance by US citizens. “Having said all that, the country that is monitoring Bermuda is Britain — Bermuda should not be looking in the direction of the NSA, they should be looking in the other direction,” Mr Arkin said. Mr Arkin added, however, that surveillance “did not necessarily mean that Bermudian communications were being monitored or that Bermudian civil rights had been violated”. He said that examples where surveillance might be carried out were where there was tax avoidance or money laundering, or a person was subject to an investigation by the FBI or other agencies. “That’s the world we live in and I want that to happen and have effective law enforcement and want it to be targeted,” he said.

December 1. Third time's the charm for local photographer Roland Skinner. The veteran photographer will next week hold a book signing for the third version of his popular coffee table book Picturesque. He spoke with The Royal Gazette about what makes this book a little different, and his opinion, better, than the others. Q: What inspired you to create a third version of your book? A: One of the main reasons was because the first book is 17 years old and the other one is ten years old, and as they get around that age, it's fair to assume that most locals already have it. That narrows who I can sell it to down to tourists, so I said rather than print another order of the old books it would be better to come up with a new book with fresh images. Q: How does this one differ from the other two versions? A: Firstly most of the photographs are bigger. The other ones had lots of little small images. These are bigger and the quality is better. I'd say the reproduction quality has improved thanks to advances in technology. Q: Do you have any particular photos that stand out as your favorites? A: I have favorites in each category of the book. For instance with architecture I love the old buildings in Bermuda and love the colorful architecture here. I believe it's become even more colorful over the past few years. I also love the sunset works that I do. I didn't concentrate on it so much in the other books, but this one has a lot of large sunsets which are absolutely gorgeous. The beach scenes are also really nice and there are some great shots there that are totally different from the older ones. Q: How long does a project like this take you? A: I didn't do it overnight. I bring the project along gradually. I am in constant contact with my book dealer in Florida, so I will tell her where I am, send her an image and she will tell me something like That's nice, but if you had this sort of image on the next page it would work even better. I had been talking about doing another Picturesque book for a few years, but I didn't really start to work on it seriously until last year. I am constantly photographing anyhow so it's just a matter of going back to my images and finding the right ones for the book.  Q: How did you get into photography in the first place? What about it intrigued or interested you? A: I started out during my school holidays working for the Department of Tourism in their photo lab and that's where I acquired my love for photography. I used to print black and white photos and just loved it. And when I retired from the department, which was then called Information Services, I decided to open up Picturesque Gallery in 1993. Q: What's the biggest challenge/ reward of the job for you? A: You know what? I'm still at the stage where I can say I love it. I can't wait to see my results. I will go out and photograph for a day and come home and put in the images on my computer and blow them up. It's rewarding every day of my life that I can shoot a picture. There are days when I won't go out, for instance in the rain, but sometimes I do and even then I find the most wonderful rain clouds to photograph. Q: What, if anything, do you hope people take from seeing this book? A: Particularly with tourists I think they will love to have this at home on their coffee table so it will remind them of their lovely visit to Bermuda. And on a rainy or snowy day they can have a nice cup of coffee and open this book, look at it and say, I can't wait until I go back to Bermuda. For the locals there is still something special in it for them. There are images in here that I'm sure some have never seen. I find new locations on the Island from time to time. It's something I get excitement from especially if it's some place beautiful. There are lots of hidden gems around the Island. I'm sure I haven't found them all yet and I've been doing this for more than 50 years. Mr Skinner will hold his book signing at AS Cooper's main store on December 11 from 6pm until 7pm. Limited copies of the book are now available for $48 at Picturesque Gallery and at book stores next month.

December 2. At approximately 12.40pm today, Harvey Schiller, a previously little-known man to Bermudians, ushered the magic word "BERMUDA" and, at once, became a lifelong friend of these little islands whose international calling card for far too long has been linked intrinsically to a particular, mythical triangle. Not any more. The Associated Press, through the reputable Bernie Wilson, thought the race to host the 35th America's Cup was all over when it broke the news on November 20 that Bermuda had pipped San Diego. It is now. During the announcement this morning Schiller said: "One place stood out as the best location offering everything we needed to make it an exceptional event. I am pleased to announced that the America's Cup 2017 will be held in Bermuda." Schiller, who serves as commercial commissioner for the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), made the announcement in a packed New York hotel before a 15-strong Bermuda contingent that included Michael Dunkley, the Premier, Dr Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, who is also the bid leader, and Bill Hanbury, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Mr Dunkley said: "This is quite a remarkable moment for Bermuda and our people. We are delighted to be here with you today and honoured that Bermuda was selected to host the 35th America's Cup in 2017. Being the home of the America's Cup is an extraordinary opportunity that aligns perfectly with the heritage, profile, spirit and future of our Island. In its 163-year history, The Americas Cup has been held in just eight locations. Bermuda is honoured and proud to join this distinguished group. We thank the America's Cup Event Authority for their confidence in us and for their vision to evolve the experience for spectators and participants alike. There is no better vivid and hospitable setting than Bermuda to stage an event of this nature and for the continued evolution of the sport. The eyes of the world will now be on Bermuda as never before, with the America's Cup, which was taken to a new stratosphere of drama and visual art in the 34th edition in San Francisco last year, commanding an international audience into the billions as Team Oracle USA clawed its way back from an 8-1 deficit against Emirates Team New Zealand. The decision made by software billionaire Larry Ellison and his men in the ACEA means that Bermuda will be at the start, if not the end, of every meaningful conversation to do with sailing for the next three years. The racing may not begin until next October, with the America's Cup World Series preliminary event providing a three-day dress rehearsal of monster catamarans zooming up and down the Great Sound, but the work required to make this event a hit approaching the standards of the unparalleled 2013 vintage should light a blue touch-paper to the Island. The term "game changer" could never be more apt. San Francisco took in an estimated $346 million for hosting Oracle's successful defence of the Auld Mug last year and reported more than 700,000 spectators on shore. Bermuda may struggle to match such numbers, but what a boost for the local economy if the Island could come close to equaling the 2,000 new jobs that were created in the Bay Area, with development and investment expected to accelerate in several industry areas. In seeing off San Diego, which has hosted the America's Cup three times, Bermuda become the first offshore venue by a defender out of choice. Valencia, Spain, twice hosted the event when the Swiss team Alinghi were the cup-holders, but that was because Lake Geneva was seen to be unsuitable for racing. So coming to a place near you will be 45-foot wing-sailed catamarans, with the latest in hydro-foiling technology helping the craft to build speeds of up to 50mph. But that is merely for the World Series from October 16 to 18. Then for the qualifiers and play-offs to determine the challenge to Oracle, and for the final match itself over the best of 17 races, the stakes are raised even higher with the 62-foot cats, or AC62. With the right wind conditions, these boats are expected to surpass the speeds that were reached in San Francisco Bay when the AC72 was the weapon of choice. The hope of Ellison and his men is that the sleeker boat with fewer crew will add to the world's new-found love affair with the America's Cup. Bermuda, hold on. This promises to be one dazzling ride.

December 2. The Canadian Government firm involved with plans to redevelop LF Wade International had previously been in talks with the Cayman Government about a similar project. This according to the Cayman Compass, which reported today that the deal in Cayman collapsed after the UK expressed concerns about a lack of open tendering for the development. The proposal would have involved Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) financing and building expansions to the Cayman airport and runway in exchange for a 30 to 40-year operating concession and the right to collect aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues. The Compass report reveals that concerns were expressed about a loss of direct government revenue, loss of control over a key strategic asset for the country and potential loss of jobs at the airport. Last month Bermuda Finance Minister Bob Richards announced that Government had signed an agreement with CCC to pave the way for the redevelopment of the Bermuda airport through various sources of financing. Mr Richards said that the development would be financed through future revenue streams from the new airport itself. The deal has come under intense scrutiny from the Opposition for the lack of transparency involved in the process as well as the absence of a tendering process. The Cayman Compass report states: "Cayman officials will get the chance to see if the island missed a golden opportunity or dodged a bullet after the United Kingdom vetoed plans for a $200 million partnership with a Canadian government company to redevelop Owen Roberts International Airport." The Bermuda Government announced last week that it was entering into an agreement with the same firm, the Canadian Commercial Corp, to develop its airport in a public-private partnership similar to one that was on the table for Cayman in the early part of 2013. The report by James Whittaker added: "Cayman Islands officials have since opted for a more modest redevelopment of the terminal to be financed through existing Cayman Islands Airports Authority revenues, following an analysis of the options by PwC. The Canadian Commercial Corp appears to have taken a version of the deal mooted for Cayman to authorities in Bermuda. According to Mr Glidden, who headed the Ministry of Tourism in the Cayman Islands when the deal fell through in March 2013, the FCO's economic adviser had indicated that the Cayman Government needed to follow a competitive tendering process.

December 3. The arrival of the America's Cup in Bermuda today will herald a day of joyful celebrations across the Island. The oldest trophy in international sport is due to touch down at LF Wade International Airport at 2pm on a private jet from New York. The arrival of the Auld Mug in Bermuda will signal the beginning of a series of events to mark the historic achievement. Premier Michael Dunkley urged Bermudians yesterday to join in the many festivities arranged. "Tomorrow is an opportunity for all of Bermuda to come out and celebrate this monumental achievement," he said. "This is a time for us to come together in a spirit of unity to bask in our collective success. I hope to see as many people as possible tomorrow night along Front Street because this truly is a historical moment for Bermuda." Dr Grant Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, and Shawn Crockwell, Minister of Tourism Development, will both be at the airport to welcome the team escorting the Cup. It will be accompanied by Sir Russell Coutts, Harvey Schiller and members of the Oracle team. The group will be travelling in a police-led motorcade from the airport and will head to the Cabinet Office on Front Street. The vehicles will be driven by some of the Islands schools so that students can see the America's Cup as it passes by. Once at the Cabinet Office, the Premier will host a special press conference to officially receive the trophy. Later, a special block party will be held on Front Street for the public. The event will feature the Bermuda Regiment Band, Gombeys, fire dancers and live music from local band Working Title. A star attraction will be a celebratory three-cannon salute and a spectacular fireworks display. Road closures on Front Street will take effect from 5.30pm. The route taken by the motorcade will be from L. F. Wade along North Shore Road, then along Middle Road once the convoy passes through Flatts. It will then continue along Middle Road to Montpelier Road, on to Frog Lane and along Palmetto Road. It will then turn left down Dock Hill left on to North Shore Road and left on to Berkeley Road, left on to St Johns Road and right on to Woodlands Road. It will then turn left at roundabout on to Serpentine Road and then on to Dundonald Street, taking a right on to Court Street before heading to the Cabinet Grounds.

December 4. A brother and sister have teamed up to showcase their twin passions — baking and the history of transport in Bermuda. Sonia Martins runs Baked, while brother Paul Martins has taken over the back of the Bermudiana Arcade premises and created a museum of transport showcasing historic vehicles from his private collection. Ms Martins, 38, of Smith's Parish, who formerly worked in office administration, said she had dreamed for years of opening a cafe specializing in Portuguese baking and cuisine. She added: “I love cooking and I love baking and I did a couple of courses in Ottawa for cake decorating — and my mom taught me a lot. She had a love and passion for baking and food. She said she was going to open a Portuguese shop and bakery, but she died when I was 18, so it’s a tribute to her too. Paul and I just took two dreams and put them together.” The new cafe, on the top floor of the Queen St arcade offers a range of Portuguese pastries and desserts, as well as cakes like the traditional Azores favorite quejada de villa, a custard tart, which are flown in from the North Atlantic island chain. It also offers a full range of breakfast sandwiches and meals, as well as a traditional Portuguese buffet lunch. Ms Martin also creates customized cakes and cupcakes to order for birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions and even an “edible arrangement” baked in the shape of a bouquet of flowers. And a special range of Christmas goodies, including traditional Bermudian cassava pie and 3-D cakes in the shape of snowmen and Christmas trees, are available for order. Mr Martins said he jumped at the chance to showcase some of his collection, which includes more than 100 motorcycles, as well as an old doctor’s buggy horse carriage crafted out of Bermuda cedar and marine exhibits like boats and engines. "The oldest motorcycle is an Excelsior that was the first motorcycle to be licensed for the general public in 1946. I have a picture of it with the number 1 local plate on it.” Mr Martins, 47, who owns Martins’ Precision Automotive in Bakery Lane, Pembroke, said: “I’ve been trying to do something like this for 20 years. I’ve been collecting for 30 years and I still have one of my own first bikes, a Mobylette I got when I was 14.” In addition to his bikes, Mr Martins also owns 16 classic cars, including British Morris Minors and Austins, Volkswagen Beetles and a rare Beetle-based Karmann Ghia sports car. Mr Martins said: “I’ve always had a passion for transport — I’ve got stuff on display from the days of Bermuda trains and marine exhibits too. The plan over the next few years is to expand and display all the cars, bikes and boats I have. I’d like to share my collection with everybody.” Dozens of bikes — some of them rare and valuable — are on display at the museum, with old valves from Belco engines used to create the stands and rope barriers. Mr Martins said: “I like to use and repurpose things. I hate to see waste.” And he said the vehicles on display, some of them painstakingly restored and others in their original condition, would be rotated regularly to keep the display fresh. The cafe is open from 6am to 4pm, while the museum, which is also available for private parties, is open from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.

December 4. Things are looking up at Coral Beach & Tennis Club, a year after the business was taken out of receivership. General manager Nik Bhola arrived three months ago and is overseeing the first stages of a three-year project to revive and improve the property with an eye to appealing to the next generation of club members. At the same time, the club aims to retain the charm and intimacy that has sustained it through the past 70 years. Mr Bhola wants to return the property to its former glory. "We're very much trying to bring the asset to an improved state. It has not had a cash injection in the past few years." After listening to the membership, Coral Beach is addressing concerns and has started improving exterior areas, including patios, the longtail terrace, and resurfacing of the tennis courts. There is also a new gym. Badminton courts may be on the cards in the future. With the arrival of winter the work has shifted indoors, with attention being placed on the dining room and a number of guests rooms. Wifi capability is also being boosted. "We are doing a refresh and a remodeling of the interior spaces, while keeping the charm of Coral Beach," said Mr Bhola. "In my conversations with the members I can see that confidence has been restored. There is now a long-term plan and there is an energy about the club." The smooth road ahead envisaged is in contrast to the bumpy one endured by members during the past few years. In 2007, the 26-acre resort was bought by Brickman, a New York-based real estate private equity firm, which had plans to create a Four Seasons resort. That idea was scrapped after the global economic crisis hit in 2008. In 2012 the firm offered to sell the club to its members for $28 million, however, the membership balked at the idea. The club subsequently went into receivership in 2013 before being bought last December by Three Wall Capital, a New York-based boutique hotel investment company. Coral Beach has eight cottages, 31 suites, and extensive grounds and recreational facilities. Ensuring the club remains attractive in order to bring in the next generation of members is key, said Mr Bhola. "We are delivering a programme aligned with the generation to come, which will keep the club viable," he explained. When asked if the idea of an exclusive members club, with its roots in the 1940s, could continue to succeed in the 21st century, Mr Bhola said the networking, camaraderie and social interaction opportunities the club fostered was something that was never going to go away. Improvements at Coral Beach are not being confined to infrastructure projects, the club is seeking ways to add value for the membership, one of which will be the phasing out of incremental fees. Mr Bhola was born in Kenya and attained a hospitality degree at the University of Surrey, in England. He has extensive experience in the industry, including three years at the Fairmont Southampton between 2003 and 2006, and working at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida, the New York Plaza and The Palace in New York, the Umstead Hotel and Spa in North Carolina, and Loews Don Cesar Hotel in Florida. "I've worked in historic hotels in the past that needed to have extra tender, loving care. This property has unique characteristics that have to be looked after," he said. How much is being spent on improvements has not been revealed. At the moment the focus is on the Coral Beach site, although the nearby sister property Horizons and Cottages could also be in line for improvements. "We hope to reintroduce that as an event space, but there is nothing definite or concrete about that yet." Mr Bhola believes Coral Beach's strengths include its enviable South Shore beach location, being centrally placed for access to Hamilton, and its old world charm. He paid tribute to the staff who have maintained the property and kept its services running during the last few rocky years. "I have to say thank you to our membership, but also recognize our team who have provided such a high level of service during the tough times. We want to keep that family together." Mr Bhola also expects the club to be more engaged with the local community in the future and, following this week's announcement that Bermuda is to host the America's Cup in 2017, he added: "A lot of strategic plans may evolve."

December 5. A Bermuda-based global property firm has teamed up with the Qatar government’s investment arm in a fresh multibillion dollar bid to take over the owners of London's financial district Canary Wharf. Hamilton's Brookfield Property Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority put in an offer for Songbird Estates, valued at $4 billion, which controls the massive office and shop development built on the site of the former London docks. Brookfield and the Qatar Investment Authority already own a significant stake in the Canary Wharf Group, which operates the area, the second-largest financial district in London, or its parent company Songbird. Brookfield has a 22.08 per cent interest in the Canary Wharf Group, while the Qatari fund owns 28.6 per cent of Songbird. Ric Clark, CEO of Brookfield, said: "As long-term investors in Canary Wharf, we are pleased to be in a position to make this compelling offer to the shareholders of Songbird. It provides shareholders with the opportunity to realize the very significant increase in value that Songbird has experienced over the last year. The offer is being made as Canary Wharf embarks on an ambitious development program that will alter its risk profile." Last month, Songbird rejected a takeover fund by the two insisting that the $3.5 billion offer did not reflect the value of the company. The original bid of $4.62 in cash per share valued Songbird at around $3.47 billion, but Brookfield and the Qatar fund has upped the offer to $5.48 per share in cash 33.6 per cent above the share price when the original bid was announced. Brookfield is one of the worlds largest owners, operators and investors in property with investments in $95 billion in real estate and interests in 275 million square feet of commercial space globally around the world. The bid is the joint ventures final cash offer and both companies ruled out another hike, describing the bid price as full and fair. Songbird owns close to 70 per cent of the Canary Wharf Group, a controlling interest acquired in 2004 and de-listed its shares. In June last year, Canary Wharf Groups real estate holdings were valued at more than $9.8 billion. Canary Wharf was once the centre of the largest docks in the world, but the introduction of containerization killed off the industry and the main port for London moved down the Thames River to Tilbury. The last dock closed in 1980 and the area remained derelict until it was turned into an enterprise zone, with the first new buildings in the office complex opening in the early 1990s. The area now features 35 four office buildings and nearly 700,000 square feet of retail space. Canary Wharf Group also controls development land for a further 9.8 million square feet of property in and around the estate, including 3.3 million square feet of higher-value homes. The oil-rich middle eastern state's Qatar Investment Authority already owns significant chunks of London's real estate, including the landmark Shard building, the luxury department store Harrods and the former Olympic Village in the east end of the city, built for the 2012 games.

December 5. The Fairmont Hamilton Princess and the Mid Atlantic Athletic Club (MAAC) have announced that the annual Fairmont to Fairmont Race will be held on Sunday, January 11. The race takes runners on a 7.2-mile course between The Fairmont Hamilton Princess and The Fairmont Southampton and is considered the beginning of the running year, attracting competitors from across the globe. It is used by many runners as the final warm-up for International Race Weekend, which starts on Friday, January 16. The Fairmont to Fairmont Race also includes a competitive walking category, a three-member team relay, and a Junior 3K race. The course takes the competitors from The Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, along Front Street, East Broadway, The Lane, Harbour Road, Burnt House Hill, Middle Road and up The Fairmont Southampton Driveway before finishing at The Fairmont Southampton's Private Beach Club. Harry Mulenga and Ashley Estwanik won last year's  male and female categories. The main draw prize for this race will be a four-night stay at The Fairmont Mayakoba, Mexico, with round-trip JetBlue tickets. There are also prizes for the top male and female finishers of the Junior 3K. The Fairmont to Fairmont Relay Race will award prizes for the top finishers in the male, female, and mixed categories. The adult Fairmont to Fairmont race has prizes for the top male and female finishers in the 16-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60 and over, and 70 and over categories. Also winning prizes will be the first male and female walkers as well as the first tourists, and the winning Fairmont employees.

December 5. Plans for the South Basin Marina — the hub of operations for the 2017 America’s Cup — have been submitted for planning approval. The application, submitted by South Basin Development on December 2, proposes a reclamation of the South Basin using sheet pile walls and infill. The project would also include a marina, offices and service area, along with parking, access roads and utilities. A letter from Andrew Dias, the Wedco general manager, included in the application, states that the quango is both the owner of the property and a shareholder in the developer. He wrote: “The West End Development Company fully support this application. The Marine facility will ultimately provide the new premises for Government Department of Marine and Ports, a new and modern boatyard facility for the provision of services to the Bermudian public and visiting yachts, as well as a marine school to provide educational services to the marine industry.” According to the application, the proposal would involve the reclamation of around 11 acres inside the southeastern corner of the existing breakwater, creating a gravel surfaced “island”. The fill area would cover the majority of Cross Island. but an existing building on the island will remain untouched. On the fill area, the plan includes a boat yard with multiple dry storage racks, two parking areas, a marina office building, a building to house the Marine and Ports offices and a larger service building also earmarked for the department. The fill area will also include a dock specifically for tugs and ferries. The northern side of the breakwater would house a marina with 68 berths. Documents included with the planning application state that the plan was presented to the Cabinet and Parliament this August and was approved. The documents also state that the project is linked to the North Channel Modification Project, which proposes widening the north channel to allow larger cruise ships to visit Dockyard. Spoils from the channel widening would be used in the fill at the marina, saving costs as the spoils would not have to be taken out to sea. “[The] timing of these two projects is such that this is the best viable solution of how to dispose of the dredged spoils for the greatest benefit of Bermuda,” the study said. According to an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) included with the application, the original proposal would have extended further south, but the decision was made to relocate to inside the breakwater to reduce the potential environmental impact. Regarding the area that will be impacted by the project, the EIS states: “Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent the loss of ecological habitats as a result of the land reclamation. Those sessile communities such as sea grasses will be lost, while those such as turtles and fish will migrate away from the area. On the other hand, many of the new structures associated with the construction of the marina will attract new ecology and fish communities. It should be noted that similar habitats to this is present within 50 to 100m just outside the South Basin breakwater and provides for the migration and relocation of the more transitory species.” Both the planning application and the EIS are available online at the Department of Planning website.

December 5. LONDON (Bloomberg). The UK became the latest country to take aim at multinational tax avoidance, announcing a new levy on companies that artificially shift their profits into havens, a move prompted by growing international outrage at maneuvers used by businesses including Google, Apple and Starbucks. In his end-of-year statement to Parliament in London, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the UK government will introduce a 25 per cent tax on profits generated by multinationals from economic activity here that are moved out of the country. He named no companies.  "That's not fair to other British firms," Osborne said. "It's not fair to the British people either. Today were putting a stop to it." The announcement short on details was made as tax planning by big companies comes under increasing scrutiny by global regulators. In September, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development set out new proposals to tackle corporate tax avoidance, a project it is carrying out at the direction of the Group of 20 nations. Later that month, the European Commission said Irish tax authorities failed to conform to international guidelines in a tax deal with Apple. Last month, Ireland's government announced it would phase out a tax shelter known as the Double Irish, which has been used by companies including Google, Microsoft Corp and LinkedIn Corp. The UK Treasury singled out that technique today. The UK Parliament has held a series of hearings on techniques used by various companies, including Google, Amazon.com and Starbucks, which have often reported little or no taxable profits in Britain even though they've made billions of dollars of sales. Last week, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the other members of the European Unions executive body survived a confidence vote after disclosures by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists about tax deals between multinationals and Luxembourg, where Juncker served as prime minister for almost 19 years. Also this week, US President Barack Obama told a gathering of chief executive officers that legislative tax reform should begin with business taxes, ideally lowering rates and closing loopholes. Techniques like the Double Irish first reported by Bloomberg News in 2010 permit companies to collect the bulk of their profits through Irish subsidiaries instead of the countries where they have actual customers. Those units then route those profits through royalties and other payments to a second Irish subsidiary, headquartered in a low-tax jurisdiction like Bermuda. Google, for example, cut its income-tax bill by about $2.5 billion last year, mostly due to such an arrangement. The company paid more than $11 billion in royalties to an Irish unit that lists its headquarters at a Bermuda law firm during 2012. Ashley Zandy, a spokeswoman for Facebook; Hani Durzy, a spokesman for LinkedIn; and a Google spokesperson declined to comment. Amazon spokesman Craig Berman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Starbucks also did not immediately respond to such a request. It's unclear how precisely the UK plans to measure the profits that should be properly attributed there. And such a unilateral plan could complicate the OECD's plans to reform the rules for how companies allocate their taxable income around the world. There is a risk that the Diverted Profits is unworkable, Michael O'Brien, a technology partner at accountancy firm Reeves in London, said in an e-mailed statement. To properly enforce any such rules there will also need to be significant international cooperation between countries and different tax jurisdictions.

December 6. The Bermuda Government has guaranteed a $5 million loan to Arch Reinsurance for the redevelopment of Morgan's Point. The announcement was made by Finance Minister Bob Richards at the House of Assembly this morning. "It is generally not the policy of the Ministry of Finance to issue guarantees to the private sector unless the matter is of national importance," Mr. Richards said. "However, the Island has not seen a new hotel development for some time and the Government strongly supports this project and the economic benefits that it will bring to Bermuda. With the America's Cup announcement, we must do even more to attract local and foreign capital to our shores to develop our tourism product. I am confident that, if satisfactory financing is obtained, this development will turn a brown field site into a stunning new resort, leading Bermuda back into the forefront of the hospitality industry. Once constructed, the project will create numerous jobs. Additionally, the total build will generate significant revenue for the Bermuda Government." The developer, Morgan's Point Ltd (MPL), plans to build an 84-room boutique hotel, 147 residences and a marina at the Southampton peninsula. "I can now confirm that Government has provided a guarantee to Arch Reinsurance Ltd on behalf of the MPL to provide credit support for a $5 million loan," Mr. Richards added. "This loan is for the purpose of meeting reasonable expenses incurred by MPL in connection with the first phase of the Morgan's Point project, including expenses relating to architecture, design, construction engineering and professional advice and services. The Government has guaranteed the full and prompt payment of the principal of, and interest on, the loan."

December 6.  Morgan's Point Limited appears to have secured ultra high-end hotel brand Ritz Carlton Reserve as the operator for its new development. Ritz Carlton Reserve is at the top end of the luxury hotel and resort chain Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and is known for its signature, one-of-a-kind boutique resorts. Finance Minister Bob Richards briefly mentioned the deal in the House of Assembly yesterday morning in an answer to the Opposition about Governments guarantee of $5 million to Arch Reinsurance, on behalf of MPL, for the redevelopment of the site. Minister Richards was being quizzed on the total amount government would dedicate to phase one of the project as the figure had been increased by $40m to $165m. After the session, Minister Richards told The Royal Gazette: "That's the brand that they (Morgan's Point Ltd) want to be connected with and that's 

lly confirmed the deal with the luxury hotel brand, the Minister said: "That's what we were told that its confirmed. That's what they told the Government. It's [the groups] highest quality brand, we have Ritz Carlton then at the top end, Ritz Carlton Reserve." Asked whether government lending on the project could increase, the Minister said: "I don't think so. Government was only interested in supporting the first phase of the project including expenses relating to architecture, design, construction engineering and professional advice and services. There is no Government commitment to phase two. We have committed to getting them off the ground and they are pretty much on their own from there." Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company states its Reserve brand is for travelers seeking to discover a singular location and peerless resort that, through its design and services, has a distinctive personality that blends together the culture, history and heritage of its setting. The Reserve brand extension will be distinguished from other award-winning resorts by offering guests exotic, hand-selected hideaway destinations globally; a relaxed, casually elegant atmosphere; and an even greater level of individualized service through a higher staff to guest ratio. The first Reserve hotel was built in Phulay Bay in Thailand in 2010 and the brand has other hotels in Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Morocco, Thailand and Bali. Morgan's Point owners are racing to get the hotel development completed in time for the 2017 Americas Cup in the Great Sound. MPL CEO and President Craig Christensen plans to deliver an 84-room boutique hotel, 147 residences and marina at the site and said that plans will be ready for submission to the Department of Planning by early next year. Arch Reinsurances initial investment of $5 million represents lead financing from a group of three other Bermuda international insurance and reinsurance companies who have expressed their interest in a similar agreement. 

December 6. Legislation allowing the use of cannabis-derived medicines won approval in yesterday's House of Assembly. However, the debate in the House of Assembly saw the Opposition criticizing the new law as not going far enough, while Government members called it a step in the right direction. The amendments will see Dronabinol, also known as Marinol; Nabilone, or Cesamet, and Nabiximols, also called Sativex, made legally available. In addition, the legislation allows for the addition of drugs to be provisionally listed or removed from the Acts third of fourth schedule, on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Introducing the Cannabinoid Pharmaceutical Products Act 2014 for its second reading, Premier and National Security Minister Michael Dunkley told MPs the debate should not focus on the pros and cons of cannabis itself. 2This bill introduces a new element to the medical assistance available to patients," Mr. Dunkley said, adding that it was also part of a phased approach to cannabis reform. The Progressive Labour Party's Walter Roban conceded that the Act might constitute a good first step. However, he added: "I can't say this piece of legislation goes far enough. In fact, it does not seem to have even approached the real issue. Rather than bringing flexibility to the medical use of cannabis, the Act permits the use of synthetic, manufactured products such as the anti-nausea drug Marinol," he said.. "Who is going to benefit from the Act?" Mr. Roban asked MPs, saying that he had spoken with activists in the community and believed pharmaceutical companies stood to reap the most benefit. "Homeopathic practitioners did not support the Bill, and possible remedies such as cannabis oil were not addressed by it.. It limits access to what some would call medical marijuana, restricting it to Marinol, Cesamet and Sativex. This is not far enough." He branded it a travesty to many because the rewards would go to drug companies and those in Bermuda who control the distribution of these products. Mr. Roban asked: "Have the Cannabis Reform Committee endorsed this bill? It is my understanding that the CRC are not happy with this bill at all. Medical practitioners had been disappointed by the lack of voice on this issue. What is going to be the price point?  The process of producing synthetic derivatives could be more expensive than natural cannabis. We thought this might be an opportunity to go much farther cannabis in an appropriate natural form can be a treatment for certain severe conditions. This bill does not go far enough. I don't say this because I think it is the intention of the OBA to reward large pharmaceutical companies, but we do have a situation where a certain few benefit from the distribution of medicine." The PLP's Glenn Blakeney said the proposed legislation was a good start, adding it does not necessarily go far enough in the minds of some. He noted the latitude that the CMO is given by the legislation, and called it living legislation because of the ability of the Minister to amend it. He also noted that nations such as Israel have deeply researched cannabis and as a result have had a long hard look at policies regarding its medical and recreational use, thought this is a very good first start but think it can go a lot farther. He also noted the medical community had not weighed in on the subject, so the public would hear from the lips not just of politicians but the lips of medical practitioners. Minister of Health Jeanne Atherden pointed to the flexibility the new legislation provided and said: " If something new comes up, and we are satisfied it meets criteria we can add it, and remove it as well. The CMO had done her research and made sure the drugs have been through the appropriate trials. The drugs come with indications of the type of usage, the quantity you should use, counter indications. Natural products haven't had the opportunity for the testing." OBA MP Craig Cannonier told the House that local patients were already able to bring in cannabis oil with the sanction of the CMO, and Suzann Roberts-Holshouser said that the drug Sativex was not a synthetic. Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Grant Gibbons said he was an organic chemist who had worked extensively with natural products while obtaining his university degree. He explained double blind testing methods are used to determine whether a drug is effective or not. The problem with teas, or oil, is that you don't know what you're giving the patient. Testing of drugs by pharmaceutical companies means you have a much better idea of that. Dr Gibbons looked at the three drugs that are included in this legislation. Nabiximols has two ingredients which are both pure, both are extracted from the cannabis plant, so it is not synthetic. It is then purified so you know exactly what you are dealing with. The active ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both main active ingredients in cannabis. They are extracted and purified. So there is nothing synthetic about them at all. They were tested for specific complaints, allowing doctors to prescribe with precision. Nabilone, explained Dr Gibbons is truly a synthetic drug, used as an analgesic for neuropathic pain. It has benefits for which it has been tested and approved. The third drug, Dronabinol, is a single compound, synthetic THC, identical to the natural compound, and used to stimulate appetite in cancer patients. When you take a plant material like cannabis, nature is not always selective you find a lot of different things in there. Some will have effect, some not. Wrapping up the debate, Mr. Dunkley said that pharmaceutical advances made it possible that other substances could be considered. Discussions across the medical community had been fairly wide. As for prices to go on the new drugs, once the legislation was passed, the market will look at that. “

December 6. Sir Russell Coutts has become synonymous with the King Edward VII Gold Cup and it is not difficult to see why. Between 1990 and 2004, the legendary skipper won the prestigious trophy seven times, the most in the regatta's history. He is one of only seven skippers to win successive Gold Cups and the first to achieve the feat after the regatta was revamped in 1985. Coutts, CEO of America's Cup holders Oracle Team USA, said: "The Cup will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was important to me and still is. I loved my races here. They were some fantastic races and I had some great duels on Hamilton Harbour." The King Edward VII Gold Cup is the oldest match-racing trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts. It was given at the Tri-Centenary Regatta at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1907 by King Edward VII in commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of the first permanent settlement in America. C. Sherman Hoyt won the regatta and was the first to accept the now historic cup. After three decades of holding the Cup, Hoyt gave it to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and proposed a regular one-on-one match-race series in six-metre yachts. Much has changed since then, including the choice of boat design, with racing now held in the International One Design classic sloop. The regatta is now known as the Argo Group Gold Cup and is sanctioned by the Alpari World Match Racing Tour featuring many Americas Cup calibre sailors. "It's great to see the Gold Cup going strong," Coutts said. "People have talked to me about coming and sailing in it again. But obviously I wouldn't be prepared as I once was. Of course I've got other responsibilities these days. But who knows ... I might come along and have another shot at it and see how it goes. It would be fun to try, but I don't know whether I qualify." Coutts's fond sailing memories in Bermudas waters played a significant factor in the Island being awarded the Americas Cup on Tuesday. "It factored heavily and I think the enthusiasm we have already seen from Bermudians is going to help create the right atmosphere," the Olympic gold medallist and multiple world match racing champion said. "I have not done a lot of sailing in the Great Sound, but I can just envision what its going to be like in 2017 with these super fast boats. Its going to be pretty cool." 

December 7. Almost $1 million will be invested in home-grown ideas from local entrepreneurs as part of the 2015 tourism mix, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said at the conclusion of its annual Tourism Experiences Investment process this weekend. There were 40 successful applications for 2015 in the categories of Sports, Arts and Culture, New Experiences or Marketing Support. "We are proud to say we had a very strong collection of home-grown ideas from the public," said Pat Phillip-Fairn, chief product and experiences officer for the BTA. "We spent a considerable amount of time educating entrepreneurs with our lunch-and-learn series earlier this year and it paid off. The ideas were far better aligned with our overall strategy for tourism growth than the last time around. In fact, two thirds of those who attended our seminars and submitted an application were successful." Overall, 55 per cent of applications were successful, an improvement over the last process in April, in which the success rate was about 40 per cent. The Product and Experiences team says the quantity of applicants decreased while the quality of applications increased, which suggests entrepreneurs better understood the criteria for success. However, the full amount of 2015 Tourism Experiences investment will not be known until the new year when post-event reports from a handful of 2014 awardees whose events were recently completed, or have not occurred, yet are due. Recurring Tourism Experiences must prove certain objectives were met before being awarded funding in the next year. The final BTA investment in home-grown ideas for 2015 is likely to exceed $1 million. "We're certain to invest a greater sum in home-grown ideas than we did in April shortly after the BTA was formed," Mrs Phillip-Fairn said. "I think that is a testament to the quality of Bermudian innovation, especially in the area of new experiences. Entrepreneurs have studied our strategies and come to us with ideas that help the Product and Experiences team meet its objectives of improving the visitor experience." New Experiences.  Thirteen new experiences applicants will receive $344,500 in investment because their unique and authentic ideas are designed to help to set Bermuda apart from competing destinations. The ideas range from personalized yacht charter tours through the Island's hidden coves to spectacular aerial tours on a Cessna aircraft to a dynamic shore side food court serving up authentic Bermudian dishes. "The team was particularly excited about the strength of applications in the new experiences area," Mrs. Phillip-Fairn added. "People came in with ideas that hone in on Bermuda's natural beauty, but in an enterprising and innovative way. Everyone understands we need imagination to revitalize our tourism product and we believe we have a collection of new ideas that will put us well on our way to accomplishing that goal. It's no mistake that 42 per cent of the investment funds dedicated thus far for 2015 are going to new experiences." Some of the most exceptional new experiences ideas need seed money to get off the ground. As the BTA's powers of authority enables the organization to grant loans, interest-free loans are being offered to those particular applicants to ensure their experiences are implemented as quickly as possible. The list includes tour experience Scootcoupe, Funworx hydro-bikes, a Shelly Bay Beach experience, Pilot Gigs Rowing Regatta and Soma Sailing. "We viewed these ideas as literally too good to pass up and we want to see them start-up quickly," Mrs Phillip-Fairn said. "We have offered seed money and repayment terms, and we hope these entrepreneurs will accept the offers and deliver on their wonderful ideas." Sports. Ten sports-related Tourism Experiences earned investment funds totaling $228,600. Two of them, Marion-Bermuda Yacht Race and Bermuda Marathon Weekend , were elevated from Tourism Experiences to Signature Experiences. "The latter have proven track records for driving visitors to Bermuda and stimulating economic activity, or they have the potential to advance the BTA�s core objectives in a significant way," Mrs Phillip-Fairn said. "The Marion-Bermuda Yacht Race and Bermuda Marathon Weekend easily qualify under those criteria." Arts and Culture.  Eleven arts and culture Tourism Experiences received $240,000 in investment funding from the BTA. Beachside activities at Tobacco Bay and an international Town Crier Competition are on the list, as are experiences built around local food, art and music. Some of the funded Arts and Culture experiences are strategically positioned between November and March, which the BTA has rebranded Arts and Culture Season. This includes Hubie's Nights by Chewstick which will begin in February and span multiple months. Marketing Support. Six Tourism Experiences will receive marketing support from the BTA because their idea or event fits well with Bermuda's existing marketing strategies. The 2015 Tourism Experiences to receive marketing support in this manner include two events with BTA stakeholders at the City of Hamilton, Bermuda Fashion Festival and City Art Festival. What went where, successful applicants. In Sports. Bermuda Fly-fish Invitational, Open water fly-fishing tournament (June 23 to 27), Bermuda Golf Association Season-long schedule events (all year), Bermuda National Swimming Championships, International meet at National Sports Centre (May 28 to 31), Bermuda Open Volleyball International team tournament (April 10 to 12), Bermuda Triple Challenge, Three-day weekend obstacle course series (Mar 13 to 15), Futsal Invitational 2015, International Indoor invitational (April 8 to 12), Kitty Michael International Golf Tournament Women's International Invitational Tournament (April 20 to 24), Marion-Bermuda Yacht Race (Signature Experience) Invitational open-water race from Marion, Massachusetts (June 19 to 27), Bermuda Open Golf Invitational Golf Tournament (March 2015), Bermuda Marathon Weekend (Signature Experience), International running event (Jan 16 to 18). Arts & Culture. Bermuda Fashion Festival (M) Hamilton-based fashion events, partnered with New York fashion cruise (July 6 to 12);  Bermuda Town Crier Competition Featuring 25 town criers from Bermuda and overseas (April 21 to 26); Bermuda Good Friday Kitefest, Beachside celebration of kite flying and cultural traditions around Easter (April 3), Chewstick Hubie's Nights, Celebrating local entertainers and legacy of legendary Bermuda entertainment hub (Feb 6 to Oct 2); City Art Festival (M) Featuring local artists and related events (October 2015); City Food Festival, Celebrating Bermuda;s culinary offerings (Mar 16 to 21);  Cup Match Summer Splash (M), Series of events and entertainment around the Cup Match holiday (July 25 to 29); Harbour Nights Weekly street festival with local entertainment and vendors (seasonal); Late Nights @ BNG, Fusion of art and entertainment (Jan 29 to Apr 30); Plein Air Festival, Landscape painting experience for local and overseas artists (Oct 10 to 18); St George's Beach Town Gateway, Featuring local entertainment and culture (Feb 1 to Dec 31); Sunday Live at Snorkel Park, Featuring local entertainment and culture (May 17 to Oct 4); Town Crier & Ducking Stool Historical Re-enactments, Historical re-enactments in St George's Town Square (Apr 1 to Mar 30, 2016); Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts (Signature Experience), Annual performing arts and cultural experience (January 23 to Mar 8). New Experiences. Bermuda Explorer, Authentic Bermuda Experience (M), Recreational, dining and cultural experiences with local families (all year);  Bermuda Heroes Weekend 2015, Cultural celebration and entertainment for National Heroes Day weekend (June 12 to 15); Blue Sky Flights Aerial tour experiences (Jan 1); Bridging Bermuda Railway Trail, Enhancing Railway Trail experience (all year); Funworx Bermuda, Hydrobikes for water-based experiences (seasonal). LIV 2015. Land and sea-based themed experience (July 3 to 6); On De Rock Experience, Featuring local food, entertainment and vendors at new North Shore venue (Feb 1); Scootcoupe Bermuda, Alternative mobile guided tour experiences (Apr 1); Pilot Gigs Invitational six-oared rowing regatta (Oct 2015);  Shelly Bay Beach Amenities and Beach House Restaurant, Family-focused, Bermuda-themed experience and tours (Apr 1); The North Shore Ferry (M, seasonal); The North Shore Tour Centre (M, Jan 1);  Taste of Bermuda (M) Dining experiences with local families (all year); The Bermuda Hibiscus Gardens Trail Eco-themed tour (all year); Vista View Bermuda Family-friendly entertainment based at Dockyard (all year); Soma Sailing Personalised yacht charter sailing and tours (all year); 2016 Viper North Americans High-performance one-design dingy regatta (Mar-Apr 2016). 

December 10. Internet giants Google could spearhead the transformation of Bermuda into a Silicon Island hub for high technology, The Royal Gazette can reveal. It is believed the global search engine firm, based in California’s Silicon Valley, has been locked in talks with the new Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) with a view to setting up a physical presence on the Island. Google, although it has a subsidiary based on the Island for tax purposes, does not have any operations in Bermuda. And it is understood that Google is only one of the major players in the hi-tech world targeted as Bermuda tries to re-engineer its economy with new businesses. BDA chief executive Ross Webber declined to identify potential targets for the creation of a hi-tech hub on the Island. But he said there are a number of companies that have a presence here but not much of a physical presence. “A lot of these companies do have large US operations and it’s convenient for them to have a hub of operations near where they are. We are proposing Bermuda as that ideal location for them, particularly for things like research and development labs, product development, intellectual property, and software engineering development. But it’s a long haul because companies this size have a lot of processes to go through to set up that kind of operation, but we are having these discussions.” Mr Webber was speaking after he outlined the role of the BDA and some of its achievements to Hamilton Rotary Club yesterday. The BDA was set up last year as a public/private partnership with the aim of reviving Bermuda’s flagging economy. Mr Webber told the meeting at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club in Paget that the organization was working to bring in new types of business like biomedicine, life sciences technology, intellectual property and e-commerce. “This is one of those pillars that we don’t particularly talk about publicly because we feel the development of these ideas are the cornerstones of our economic diversification strategies and our competitive edge. Nearshore talent pipeline, the transfer of talent from a nearby country, was a key part of the BDA focus. I cannot talk too much about this but will just say that this week I have been in direct dialogue with the senior principals of leading international technology companies. We have a couple of proposals where we feel that they could set up larger physical presences here on the Island.” Google has come under fire over the last few years after it was revealed it cuts its tax bills by using a network of global subsidiaries with figures released last year showing if funneled $12 billion through its Bermuda arm. Previous revelations about Google’s tax arrangements have led UK Parliamentarians to denounce them as immoral and led to demands that Bermuda change its laws. Google said it follows tax rules in all the countries it operates in and pays little tax in the UK because its profits are not generated by UK employees. The UK arm of the firm, as well as other European operations, are designated as providers of marketing services to Google Ireland. But Google declares little profit in Ireland because it sends nearly all the cash it gets to the Bermuda affiliate, Google Ireland Holdings, in the form of licence fees for use of Google intellectual property. But if Google was to have a physical presence in Bermuda and conduct some of its business from here, it could defuse some of the controversy around its tax arrangements. Mr Webber added that the BDA was also working with life sciences firms in a bid to attract them to the Island, while Canadian e-tailers were also in their sights. He explained: “We haven’t seen the level of business flowing from Canada we expected. But the BDA had changed its approach to Canada with an new emphasis placed on the advantages of the tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) between the two countries for Canadian businesses. In addition, international arbitration work is being sought and Mr Webber said: “We are generating some positive media coverage about using Bermuda as a centre for arbitrations. There are other irons in the fire, but I need them to crystallize a little bit more before we go public.”

December 11. Justice Desiree Bernard and Geoffrey Bell QC have been appointed as new Justices to the Court of Appeal. Making the announcement this afternoon, Governor George Fergusson said: "I am delighted to see two such distinguished lawyers join the Court of Appeal. Bermuda is fortunate in being able to attract such high level jurists to maintain the quality of its courts, providing a level of service at the highest possible level both for the people of Bermuda and international business." Justice Bernard will bring her extensive experience in the Caribbean courts as well as becoming the second female Justice to be appointed to Bermudas Court of Appeal. In Geoffrey Bell, the Court will be gaining someone with long experience of the law in Bermuda, a former President of the Bar Association and a former judge of the Supreme Court. Justice Bernard served as the first female Judge in the High Court of Guyana in 1980, and later as the country's first female Chief Justice. She has also served as a Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice since its establishment in 2005. Mr Bell meanwhile came to Bermuda from the UK in 1971, subsequently working with the firm of Appleby, Spurling and Kempe. He served as President of the Bar Association between 1981 and 1984 and was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court in 2005.

December 11. The Fairmont Hamilton Princess has announced it will hire 150 new employees for the 2015 season.  The need for new employees is because of the hotel's $90 million renovation and restoration project that they say will transform the 130-year-old hotel into the premier luxury travel destination in Bermuda. The hotel has a career fair planned for those who are interested in applying for the new positions. "Next year will be an exciting one for all of us at the hotel," said Jeanette Matthew, director of human resources at The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, who was quoted in a statement about the new jobs. "With phase two renovations underway that will boost the hotels profile, the introduction of a new celebrity chef restaurant and with Bermuda's successful bid to host the 35th Americas Cup in 2017, there is no better time to consider joining the team at The Fairmont Hamilton Princess. The careers fair will allow attendees to learn more about a career at the hotel directly from those who work there," Ms Matthew said. "While we are particularly interested in speaking with students interested in exploring their career options, we encourage anyone to attend, she said, adding it will be a chance to meet leaders from different departments and to initiate the application process. Our employees are proud of the lifelong careers they establish here and of the many opportunities for continued professional growth." The career fair will take place in the hotels Adam Lounge on Monday, December 29 from 10am until 2pm. Prior to the careers fair, interested applicants may learn more about the jobs available at the hotel and begin the application process at fairmontcareers.com.

December 11. Bermuda's real estate firms are to join forces to help provide accommodation for America's Cup crews and staff. The industry has got together in a bid to provide a seamless service to the thousands of people expected to descend on Bermuda in the run-up to the 2017 event. And Bermuda Chamber of Commerce real estate members have already met on-Island representative of the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA) Dede Cooper at the Chamber's Hamilton HQ to hammer out plans, including an online portal showcasing properties available for the event. Chamber of Commerce executive director Kendaree Burgess said: "We are all looking for a fair and open process and the Chamber is going to play a role in talking to the America�s Cup Bermuda people about housing the visiting teams through the Chamber's real estate division. The Chamber will coordinate requests and distribute potential clients' details to all its real estate members. It's so everyone can get a fair shot at the same time. The meeting had also discussed managing the expectations of homeowners, emphasizing that America's Cup visitors will be looking for a wide range of properties. Rego Sotheby's International partner Penny MacIntyre. who attended the meeting, said: " Ms Cooper is hoping to establish a protocol on how we as an industry attends to the requirements for real estate, whether it's long-term, medium or short-term, which could be a week or so for the events. The ACEA is looking to be able to do business with the community at large here, in particular the provision of services, so they have reached out to Chamber of Commerce and real estate professionals who are members of the Chamber of Commerce. It's fantastic, certainly this is a plus for us to be working in conjunction with the Chamber. We are able to receive this as a benefit and also work together to establish best practices with our peers so we can service the event's needs. It also allows us to bring all our inventory together. It's a good way to be more seamless in addition to presenting properties. It's a big undertaking. All the Chamber real estate members are registered and they follow best practices and ethics. It's also to educate the community on how to price properties and if they have permission and are legally permitted to rent out their properties. There is certainly enthusiasm about the America's Cup  but people are always cautiously optimistic when it comes to execution. We want to do this well. It's important people recognize not only our ability to go and pitch for this, but also to deliver well. We're all happy to have this kind of challenge to work through. It's fantastic for the Island and we hope we all come together as registered members of the Chamber of Commerce and professionals to make this happen, sooner rather than later."

December 11. The Charities Act 2014 is to come into effect on December 31 as will the Charities Regulations 2014. The new Act designates the Registrar General as the authority for supervising charities, and gives the Registrar the power to conduct investigations, seize documents, to disclose information in his possession to other public authorities and to charge an annual registration fee. The 2014 Act is based on the UK Charities Act yet some of it is specific to Bermuda. Acting Registrar General Aubrey Pennyman said: "The new Act basically imposes a more rigorous regulatory regime for charities and brings Bermuda into compliance with international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism pursuant to Recommendation 8 of the Financial Action Task Force. Additionally, the 2014 Act will allow for the submission of applications for a temporary charities license. The Charities Regulations will be separated into two instruments a) the Charities Regulations 2014 and b) the Charities (Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist and Reporting) Regulations 2014." The regulations will prescribe the application form needed to register a charity. The new regulations explain what information and particulars are required in a charitys annual statement of accounts and annual report, the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing measures that must be implemented, the particulars required when applying for a temporary licence to solicit and collect donations from members of the public, and fees payable by charities to the Registrar. "The new Act and Regulations will ensure that local non-profit and civil society organizations have a legal and regulatory framework that reflects the needs of charities in modern times," said Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy. A sound legislative framework will assure and continue to confer special charitable status, and match public perception as to what is, and should be, charitable. The new forms and policies concerning charities are available on website www.registrygeneral.gov.bm. Members of the public are invited to a series of information and training sessions on the new regulations which will be held at the Centre on Philanthropy on December 11 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, January 14 from 12pm to 2pm, and January 19 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. For more information contact the Registry General at registrygeneral@gov.bm.

December 11. Hotels across the Island have come together as part of a coordinated effort to ensure accommodation demands for the 2017 America's Cup are met. With Bermuda's good reputation at stake there is a strong focus on eliminating any possibility of price gouging or bookings scalping. In the ten days since the Island was confirmed as hosts for the 2017 event, hotels have fielded scores of enquiries for room availability during the America's Cup and next October's World Series racing. While the early enquiries are welcome, hoteliers are waiting for comprehensive guidelines on how the booking process will operate. A meeting was held last week between the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the ACBDA (America's Cup Bermuda) group, the America's Cup Event Authority and hotel representatives. A source close to the discussions said work was under way to create a central booking organization, which will contact the hotels to provide details of room requirements. "This is just the beginning. We met to discuss room allocation for both the World Series and the main event in 2017," said the source, who requested anonymity. "Everyone is working well together to ensure that we can provide the type of rooms required." Another person familiar with the discussions, who also asked not to be named, said: "Everybody is being extremely cautious. The hotels will work with this new [booking] entity." As part of the event bidding process, rooms were secured for teams, sponsors and media. Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, explained: "As the official destination marketing organization, the BTA worked as part of the bid team to secure hotel room block commitments as part of our official bid proposal to the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA). This is quite standard practice with any bid proposal to host major global events. As part of that process, we also secured non-gouging agreements from our hotel partners, which ensures that we will provide fair and reasonable rates (that are in line with standard seasonal rates) during the events for organizers, teams, sponsors, media and the public at large. The rooms currently reserved are for use of the ACEA and teams, sponsors and media. The BTA will continue to work with the ACEA in the weeks and months to come to fulfill these requirements. The BTA is also working in concert with the ACEA as it relates to additional cruise ship inventory that may be required to accommodate visitors around the events." Stephen Todd, CEO of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said: "We are waiting for additional guidelines from the ACBDA to comply with the America's Cup organizing committee. The guidelines will be provided to ensure there is no opportunity for gouging in terms of prices, or scalping. The meeting gave the hotels some preliminary information. Bermuda has a very good reputation in the marketplace as a place to do business and it was important to preserve that." Mr Todd praised the collaborative approach being taken by the organisations and the hotels. "I think it is important that we are seen to be operating as an association, as one group, to provide benefit to the wider community. We recognize we have a part to play and we are working in tandem with the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The Fairmont Hamilton Princess is among the hotels to have received enquiries for America's Cup-related bookings. Allan Federer, general manager, said: "We are not confirming rooms at the moment. There have been many, many dozens of enquiries from the US and from Europe. We are excepting enquiries, but not bookings until the requirements of the race teams, the sponsors and the attendees become clearer." Rehanna Palumbo, director of sales and marketing at Elbow Beach Resort, said: "Once we knew the America's Cup was coming to Bermuda, we allocated space for the two main events in October 2015 and June 2017. We are continuing to take bookings for individuals and groups on other dates."

December 12. The consultancy team responsible for formulating a new energy regulatory regime for Bermuda has been unveiled. Multinational firm, Castalia, has been enlisted to help develop a national energy strategy that will define resources and set an implementation plan. They will be partnering with St Lucia-based legislative consultants, Legal and Drafting Services (LDS), for a contract said to be worth $450,000. Economic Development Minister, Dr Grant Gibbons, told the House of Assembly today that Castalia and LDS would also help draft new legislation and develop standard licenses for power producers. "The main goals that the Department is seeking to achieve are the transfer of the responsibility for regulating Energy to the Regulator Authority. Our other goals are an increase in the level of competition between power producers through the liberalization of the power grid and the development of a fair and transparent licensing regime." Castalia has offices across the globe and experience in the Caribbean. The firm wrote the Cayman Islands National Energy Plan. While LDS is a specialist in legislative drafting and has provided services to the European Union. Dr Gibbons said he will ask the team to share the draft Bills with both the stakeholders and the wider community to solicit further public input. After this final consultation, he anticipates being able to table the energy regulatory reform Bills before this Honourable House during the middle of June so that this legislation could come into effect in the latter part of 2015. Dr Gibbons told the House that Government received a total of five submissions from overseas firms during the tender process for the contract. One Bermudian firm had expressed an interest in tendering; but ultimately declined to submit a bid.

December 12. Executives of Bermuda-based Armour Group Holdings Ltd are hoping their investors can benefit from the acquisition of Mexico's largest title insurer. The acquired company, Fidelity National Title de Mexico, SA de CV, has been renamed Armour Secure Insurance SA de CV, Armour said in statement yesterday. Title insurance protects investors and lenders against risk in property acquisitions and mortgage finance. Privately held Armour, a group of insurance, reinsurance, investment management and service companies, did not disclose the terms of the deal. In its more than eight years of existence, Armour Secure Insurance has written more than $7 billion in policies. Armour president John Williams said yesterday that the Mexican outfit employs some 15 people and is based in Mexico City. "It's a high-value, low-volume business. It provides title insurance for large commercial projects and so it is linked to the fast-growing Mexican economy, so it has a great ability to grow." He said it was likely the company would expand into other types of insurance and said its licence would permit it to do so. Chairman and chief executive officer Brad Huntingdon said Armour had been "in the right place at the right time to make the deal happen." Armour came to the opportunity to acquire Fidelity National through another of its businesses, Secure Legal Title, which provides title insurance in Europe. It, like the Mexican operation, underwrites using Lloyd's capacity. "Mexico has been quite a closed market, but the government has made great strides in opening up the market to new operators and competitors," Mr Huntingdon said. Reforms introduced by President Nieto were indeed partly responsible for enabling the acquisition. Yves Hayaux-du-Tilly, partner of Nader, Hayaux & Goebel, the lawyers who represented Armour, and chairman of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce in Britain said: "This is the first time that the Mexican Government has authorized a foreign investor from a country that is not a party to a free-trade agreement with Mexico to acquire a Mexican insurance company. Bermuda is one of the largest and most highly regarded insurance business jurisdictions globally. We are delighted that it is a Bermuda-based group who are the first to be approved under this new legal framework approved under the reforms to the financial system by the current administration of President Nieto." Armour also has acquired Fidelity National Escrow Services, S de RL de CV, now renamed Armour Secure Escrow, S de RL de CV, the first in Mexico to introduce escrow services, which provide an essential element of security in real estate transactions. Armour Secure Insurance and Escrow will continue under the leadership of Juan Pablo Arroyuelo, director general. Armour Group, founded by former Imagine Group executives Mr Williams and Mr Huntingdon in 2007, is based in the Bermuda Commercial Bank building. It also has offices in London and Philadelphia. In Bermuda, it employs a team of six people, but chief operating officer Pauline Richards said there were plans to hire two more, probably in the first quarter of next year. In all, the group employs around 80 people. Several of them are claims experts, heavily involved in the group's substantial run-off segment. Run-off refers to companies or books of business that have stopped writing new business, but still have reserves and obligations to be managed. Armour seeks value opportunities within distressed, discontinued and other specialty sectors in the insurance and reinsurance industry. Two years ago, Armour announced that an affiliate had acquired the US run-off business of OneBeacon, which came with some $2.2 billion of reserves. Only last month, Armour Group subsidiary ILS Investment Management, working with Credit Suisse Asset Management, said it had successfully raised $576 million for the first insurance-linked securities (ILS) fund focused on property and casualty run-off portfolios. Mr Huntingdon said run-off opportunities were widespread in mature insurance markets, in which run-off had become "a tool allowing groups to move their capital around between entities". He added that Bermuda was home to the world's three largest run-off specialists. "Bermuda had proved to be a good base from which to grow the business," Mr Williams said, as it had a "business-friendly environment and smart regulation."

December 13. Voters between the ages of 18 and 34 most want to keep the Bermuda Day holiday on its current date  on May 24. Poll results show that 57 per cent of 400 registered voters who responded to a computer-assisted telephone survey are against changing the May 24 holiday to the Friday before the last Monday in May. The findings come just one week after Minister of Community, Culture and Sport Wayne Scott said in the House of Assembly that Government was committed to adhering to the polls that were being done. He was speaking during a debate on a Progressive Labour Party Bill to change the date. Market researchers Global Research, which ran this survey, said they regularly conducted polls on subjects they believed were interesting, and distributed the results. Nosheen Sheeny Syed, chief executive officer for Global Research, said that while the topic was important to a lot of people, it didn't feel like a hot-button topic, some topics are really controversial. The poll, run between December 1 and 8, asked respondents to choose between two options. These were: "Bermuda Day should continue to be celebrated on the 24th of May" and "Bermuda Day should be changed to fall on the Friday before the last Monday in May (this would create a long weekend for residents who do not regularly work on Sundays)." Global Research said the results were weighted to be representative of Bermuda's population on age, race and gender, and had a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent, giving it a 95 per cent confidence level. The sector most strongly in favour of retaining the Bermuda Day holiday on May 24 comprises the youngest voters, between the ages of 18 and 34, some 69 per cent of whom voted against the change. Thirty per cent said they would like to see it moved to the Memorial Day weekend. Just one per cent said they don't know. The move would not only create a long weekend but it would coincide with the United States Memorial Day holiday, which falls on the last Monday of the month. The PLP Bill was proposed by Michael Weeks, the Shadow Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs, in the House of Assembly last Friday, and won support from Mr Scott during the debate on its second reading. The draft legislation is entitled Public Holidays Amendment Act 2014. Mr Scott said that while there seemed to be support for the move, he was awaiting the outcome of a poll on the issue, which was then under way. "On this side, we committed to adhere to the polls that are being done. On the surface it is something many of us over here think has a lot of merit," he said last week. The poll released yesterday that shows the preferred date for the Bermuda Day holiday should be May 24, also shows that 40 per cent of those polled were in favour of the change, with three per cent choosing the "don't know" option. Males supported maintaining the status quo at 56 per cent to 41 per cent, while women supported its retention by an even higher percentage, 58 per cent to 40 per cent. Support for a May 24 holiday with voters in four age groupings older than 35 ranged between 51 per cent and 56 per cent. Those in favour of changing the holiday ranged from 41 per cent to 47 per cent. "Don't knows" were between one per cent and six per cent. Some 55 per cent of blacks and 58 per cent of whites polled are in support of retaining the holiday, while 42 per cent of blacks and 39 per cent of whites voted for the new date. Three per cent of black voters and four per cent of whites polled chose the "don't know" option.

December 13. Highly anticipated legislation for Bermuda's hosting of the 2017 America's Cup went before MPs yesterday, laying down the required legal amendments for the Island to deliver on its commitment. Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons told Parliament that the proposed Act reflected the same principles as those used in hotel concessions, to stimulate further investment. Those same concessions came under unrelenting scrutiny from the Opposition, with Dr Gibbons unable to provide an exact figure for what the Island traded to seal the deal. Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva asked whether the estimated $50 to $60 million cost for the Island to host the event would have increased significantly without the concessions. However, Dr Gibbons said it was impossible to determine their total value adding that Bermuda would have stood no chance of securing the America's Cup without the concessions offered. He told Opposition Leader Marc Bean:  "This is not money that we are paying out. This is money that might have come into Bermuda in the event that duties were not relaxed. Had we not relaxed those duties, I can assure the honourable Member that the Americas Cup would not be in Bermuda in the next three years." The Minister was challenged at length by Shadow Finance Minister David Burt, who protested that no estimates or models had been provided. Replying that he kept responding to the same question, Dr Gibbons said: "We will never know answers to these questions. How many teams, and when we simply don't know at this point." The Bill will prove the teams and the Cup Authority exemption from taxes and fees in areas that Dr Gibbons listed as advertising, air navigation, broadcasting, customs duties, employment, vehicle permits and licensing, marine port dues, mooring fees and pilotage. If approved, it will deliver brand protection to the 35th Americans Cup. It will also provide for various permissions to be granted during the events on an expedited basis, while ensuring appropriate accountability and oversight. The concessions offered had been discussed at Cabinet, including the Minister of Finance, but Dr Gibbons said any attempt at an exact figure would be purely speculative. Mr Burt said the Ministers replies told the Opposition that Government has not done an estimate in any way, shape or form. Dr Gibbons maintained that too many variables were involved at this early stage, and promised plenty of debate on this in the Budget session coming up.

December 13. Developers Desarrollos Hotelco Group have been chosen for a five-star St Regis, Starwood hotels resort to be developed in St George's, starting next May. Phase one of the development will cost $120 million, according to Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, and will include 122 rooms and eight residences. Phase two will deliver four large estate villas and 22 golf villas, Mr Crockwell told MPs yesterday, with Opposition members questioning why so little could be gleaned online about the developers. Mr Crockwell called Desarrollos a family business, adding that they had completed due diligence. He said there would be an appropriate press conference on their plans at the groundbreaking stage. The Venezuelan developers, who had an exclusive negotiating period to put a resort on the old Club Med site, saw that period extended in October. It would have expired today. Construction should begin in May and take 16 months. The group supports having a casino at the site, but the final decision to licence it would lie with a Commission. The Minister hailed the news as a "significant vote of confidence, confirming efforts by Government and the Bermuda Tourism Authority to secure direct long term inward investment and permanent jobs. This luxury resort development will be a tremendous positive impact to our Island and we are moving quickly toward finalizing the customary agreements." Mr Crockwell ascribed the delay to Desarrollos assembling its "critical path items for pre-development, development and operation, as well as settling the brand agreement with a selected hotel operator." Yesterday's eleventh-hour announcement for the long vacant brownfield site in St George's was the biggest step since Mr Crockwell declared in May that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with the group. The Progressive Labour Party has voiced skepticism about the reputability of Desarrollos during debates in recent months. The Minister hinted that the developers were currently in the process of creating a website that might answer questions. The initial proposal was for a 238-room hotel including a casino, the renovation of the St George's Golf Course, 16 hotel residences, 24 golf villas and 16 estate residences.

December 13. The Bermuda Tourism Authority is owed a total of $34,822 in arrears for BTA fees, Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell told the House of Assembly. The statement came in response to parliamentary questions by Opposition MP Zane DeSilva. There are a total of 47 licensed hotel properties in Bermuda. Mr Crockwell revealed that Cambridge Beaches owes $19,072 to the Authority, Surf Side owes $10,000. Brightside Guest Apartments owe $1,750; Dawkins Manor and Granaway both owe $1,000; Clearview and Sandpiper still owe $750, and the Hamiltonian Hotel owes $500. According to the Minister, Elbow Beach paid off its arrears on Thursday, along with a small property whose name he could not recall in the House. Responding to further Opposition questions, Mr Crockwell told MPs that the other Thursday payee had not been The Reefs.

December 13. MPs face immediate suspension from Parliament if they continue to flout orders of Parliamentary conduct. Telling legislators he had earlier felt reluctant to issue a formal rebuke, Speaker of the House Randy Horton said he had growing concerns in recent weeks about MPs' behaviour. He said is is a concern, he believes, that is shared by many Members and the general public. And last week's session had driven him to make the statement. MPs during last Friday's sitting of the House were repeatedly reined in by the Speaker, and an Opposition police complaint came in the wake of a fracas in the House foyer. Although no particular Member was named, the Speaker said that MPs were under a microscope, and that there had been an expectation that dishonourable conduct would cease. "MPs should be standard bearers for leadership in Bermuda. Our young people and our senior citizens in particular are watching us; our schools and our churches are watching us; business leaders, local and international, are watching us.. Potential investors are watching us. The world is now watching us. Legislators should set an outstanding example for youth and future generations. Are we living up to those expectations? Much too often, we fall short. Mr Horton called for courtesy, tolerance, patience and respect, even for those whose views may widely differ from our own. The time is now. The House Standing Orders are very clear. The previous weeks session was marked by a pointed reading of the Orders. MPs who continued to disregard the rules risked immediate suspension from the House of Assembly. "Mr Horton's stern words came at the opening of Fridays session.

December 15. The 200th anniversary of William Perot's moving to Par-la-Ville was celebrated with Christmas songs and entertainment on Saturday. The event, organized through Historical Heartbeats, the Bermuda Historical Society, and the Bermuda Library, invited the public to go and explore the History Museum and enjoy Bermudas heritage. Mount Saint Agnes Primary School Choir sang festive songs and was followed by the folk songs of Val Sherwood. There was also a performance from the North Village Band. The event was attended by Culture Minister Wayne Scott and Mayor of Hamilton Graeme Outerbridge who gave a speech recapping the history of the Perot family and their house. Town Crier Ed Christopher and historian John Cox were also in attendance while the Governor George Fergusson and his wife Margaret decided to pay an informal visit. Bermuda Historical Society member Lyn Vaughan was determined that the milestone should not pass uncelebrated, and she and her committee worked all year to produce new postcards and brochures, and to arrange the program of events.

December 15. Legislation to introduce casino gaming to the Island was passed in the House of Assembly in the early hours of this morning. The debate drew mixed reviews but was finally agreed upon with two minor amendments at 1:45am after about ten hours of discussion. The Casino Gaming Act 2014 tabled by Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell drew cautious support from some Opposition Progressive Labour Party members, along with a number of attacks on the One Bermuda Alliance's record particularly the party's abandonment of a promised referendum. Opening the debate, Mr Crockwell told the House he was confident casino gaming was right for Bermuda and that most Bermudians supported the legalization of gaming in Bermuda, although he acknowledged that the subject remained a sensitive and emotive issue for some.  He said the Bill MPs seek to pass represents a significant and critical adjustment to the tourism product and Bermuda as a destination, particularly the general decline of the tourism industry since the 1980s. In the past 30 years, Bermuda has moved from a tourism industry leader to an industry outsider. The Minister said that while casino gaming would not be a panacea for Bermuda tourism, it would serve as a catalyst for job creation and investment in the industry. He also told the House that there had been extensive public consultation, noting that three public forums were held and a recording of one of these, held in St George's, was broadcast continuously on television. Mr Crockwell added that the legislation would be substantially augmented in the future by regulations. Later in the evening, he hinted that only guests staying at a casino hotel would be permitted to use the casinos facilities During his answers in the House, the Minister said that more details about the issue would materialize in the regulations. The legislation specifies that no more than three casinos can be in operation at a single time, but that the Minister can, after consultation with the Casino Gaming Commission, select more than three sites as being suitable for a casino. During his speech, the Minister thanked former Premier Ewart Brown for his efforts to move the issue of casino gaming forward, noting particularly the Green Paper on Gaming. Shadow Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva said he supported the legislation, but attacked the OBA for reversing their decision to hold a referendum on the topic. Not only did they break their promise, but they also tried to mislead, and succeeded in misleading the people of Bermuda by stating that they cancelled the referendum because they heard that the PLP were going to undermine it, he said. Mr DeSilva said the claims were later shown to be false, and the OBA were blaming the PLP for their change of heart, saying the Government lacked the fortitude to stand by their election pledge. The Shadow Minister repeatedly claimed the Minister would be involved in deciding who would receive licenses. He questioned the limit of three casinos, asking what would happen if all three were issued and then a world-class developer wanted to come to Bermuda to build an integrated hotel and casino.  Mr DeSilva also suggested allowing members of the public to purchase shares in the casino in the Bermuda Stock Market, or requiring a certain percentage of casino staff to be Bermudian to allow more locals to benefit. He also called for some of the revenues from the casinos to be allocated to sports, education and health care to further serve the community. OBA MP Mark Pettingill noted that a previous lease for the Club Med property, issued to developer Carl Bazarian by the PLP, included a clause guaranteeing Mr Bazarian permission to erect a casino should Government change the law to allow them. He described such an action as fundamentally dangerous. Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown said he would make a conscience vote in favor of the bill yet voiced his disappointment over the failed referendum. He expressed a desire for more than just three casino licenses to be issued at any given time and said he had hoped that casinos could be built as stand-alone businesses rather than being integrated into existing or new hotels. 

December 15. The long-awaited footbridge over Baileys Bay has been formally opened. Governor George Fergusson and Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin attended Saturday's ceremony and praised the project, which was spearheaded by the Friends of the Bermuda Railway Trail and privately funded. "The health of our community is predicated upon our ability to get out, to enjoy the fresh air and to do some exercise, and what better way to do so then to have the ability to walk along this very scenic trail, "Ms Gordon Pamplin said. Mr Fergusson said: "I'm a fairly regular walker and biker on the railway trail and the bits that aren't there can be quite frustrating. To see bits get filled in like this is a wonderful contribution to the community." He urged the public to help to keep the trail clean by picking up litter. The bridge is the final step in a project to reconnect segments of the railway trail between Crawl Hill and Coney Island. Work has taken a year, involving the assembly of 740 feet of bridge spans.

December 15. A decision on whether or not to pass a Bill to repeal parts of the Insurance Act 1978 regarding trade unions and friendly societies has been delayed due to confusion in the House of Assembly over the Yea or Nay vote. Deputy speaker Suzann Roberts-Holshouser declared the yeas' have it with regards to an objection to the Bill, but confusion ensued and she then made a call for names, which the Opposition vociferously rejected. The matter could not be resolved in the House so it was decided to rise and report progress at a later date. The Bermuda Monetary Authority Amendment Act 2014 presented by Finance Minister Bob Richards sought to repeal a section of the Insurance Act which would require certain financial services, which the Opposition said would include friendly societies and trade unions, to be registered by the Authority under the act prior to conducting insurance business on the Island. It would affect those organizations registered under the Friendly Societies Act 1868 and the Trade Union Act 1965. Such sectors had previously been exempt if they met certain criteria but Mr Richards said that in light of an oversight by the authority that saw the Bentley Friendly Society selling insurance policies that were not registered with them. At the time the BMA said: Accordingly, it does not have to comply with solvency or liquidity requirements that apply to domestic insurers under the act. Mr Richards said the amendment was to protect policy holders. "These are unique times in Bermuda history," the Minister told the House as he introduced the legislation during Fridays session. "That means that many financial services are dealing with economic conditions that we have never seen before." The Bill would allow the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) to increase its fees for certain services next year by three per cent: fees regulated by the BMAs own 1965 act, the Insurance Undertakings Act 1967, the Investment Business Act 2003, and the Investments Funds Act 2006. Although there are a few exceptions, generally three per cent reflects a sound balance between the need for additional financial resources, and the ability of regulated firms to absorb it, Mr Richards said. He said the BMA was now of a view that since it has established a stable regime, now would be a reasonable time to amend its fees. Opposition Leader Marc Bean, who declared his membership of a society entirely unrelated to Bentley, said the amendment presented a threat to the whole fabric of the friendly society movement, adding that every black person owed it to the movement. Mr Bean added: "Without them, we would still be mentally enslaved and physically enslaved." The Progressive Labour Party leader said he welcomed a correction for Bentley who he repeatedly described as shysters but urged Minister Richards not to touch the area of legislation. Minister Richards said: "The legislation did not seek to outlaw friendly societies or effect if in future a legitimate friendly society decides to offer insurance of some description this legislation says they have to be put on the same playing field as other insurance companies as it pertains to the act." The amendment would see added fees and regulations for the trade unions and friendly societies wanting to provide mutual insurance. 

December 15. Former Bank of Bermuda president Donald Lines considered to be one of the architects of the modern Bermuda economy has died following a long illness. He was 82 years old. His son, Scott Lines, yesterday described his father as a loving man dedicated to his family and Bermuda. "He was wonderful,. I think everyone knew him as the businessman and they knew him as the hard worker, but they didn't know that he was a father who was always there for his children and his family. It was always about his family. He loved Bermuda and he loved the ocean. He would go swimming in the ocean every day after he came home from work. Business was his hobby. He never put it above his family or Bermuda." Educated in Bermuda, Mr Lines qualified as a chartered accountant at McGill University in 1956. He first joined the Bank of Bermuda as a trust officer in 1969, and after several promotions was named the Chief General Manager in 1981. He became the bank's president and CEO in 1989 and worked to establish an international network of offices, building the banks assets from $250 million to $7.4 billion. A founding member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda, Mr Lines also served as president of the Boy Scouts Association of Bermuda from 1972 to 1986. Mr Lines retired from the role of president in 1994 and from the board of directors of the Bank in 1998. But he remained active in the business field, serving as the chairman of the LOM Group of Companies, Schroder Holdings Ltd, KFC (Bermuda) Ltd and as a director of more than 30 publicly listed companies. He was also a founding member of the Bermuda Stock Exchange. A close confidante of longtime Bermuda Premier Sir John Swan, Mr Lines also held several public offices in the 1980s and 90s. He headed the committee which coordinated the planning and construction of Bermuda's National Stadium and also chaired the Professional Services Committee which negotiated Bermuda's Tax Treaty with the United States in 1985. Among other things, this landmark agreement resulted in Washington DC agreeing to waive for eligible Bermudian insurance companies income and excise taxes on insurance premium income derived from the United States. The treaty is credited as the foundation upon which the rapid growth of Bermuda's international business sector was built in the 1980s and 90s. For his service to the Island, he was named a member of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in 1989. One Bermuda Alliance backbencher Glen Smith described Mr Lines as a personal mentor and a man who made a lasting impact on the Island. It is a great loss for Bermuda.. He put Bermuda on the map, there's no doubt about it. He put Bermuda in good straits for many decades and for future generations. He was someone who was always hard at work behind the scenes but never wanted to take the credit for his accomplishments. His presence was always large in any room he went into, he said. He was a great listener and he would always give advice, good advice. He was a great help to me. He was a mentor of mine. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for him. He was a sort of surrogate father for me. I grew up in his house. He inspired me not just to start my own business, but to give back to the community, something that he loved to do." Former Premier Sir John Swan said Mr Lines was not only an economic icon who helped to create a new economic Bermuda in the 1980s, but also a close friend. Expressing his condolences to Mr Lines's wife and children, Sir John said: "He was very astute and understood the market and the direction it was going. He helped me enormously in my plan to restore Bermuda in a volatile climate during my tenure as Premier, and we have been friends for as long as I can remember. I have lost a good friend, a business colleague and some one I admired because they committed to expanding Bermudas economic life. I think has blazed a trail for many to follow, and I think that is being done today at LOM and other businesses that he has helped along the way, including mine. I will miss the wise advice and council I have received from him from time to time." Former Premier and Finance Minister David Saul said that while he had years of to and fro with Mr Lines over the issue of exchange control, he respected the former banker as a business leader who made a major contribution to building the Island's economy. There is no doubt that Bermuda owes him a great debt for all of the work that he did to expand international business and indeed the Bank of Bermuda. Lots of businesses in Bermuda benefit from his efforts over the years." Finance Minister Bob Richards praised Mr Lines as a man of vision, saying: "He was a person of huge drive and imagination and he was really responsible for the global expansion of the bank. He really made the Bank of Bermuda into the Islands flagship corporate entity." Long-standing friend and professional colleague Greg Haycock said that just as Mr Lines had stewarded the Bank of Bermuda into an international business, so too did he bring the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda to an international standing by initiating its affiliation with the Canadian institute. "Those higher standards proved significant in building Bermudas business reputation overseas. I was a close friend of Donald's for many years and valued his friendship and support greatly. I also had the benefit of spending a lot of personal time with him over the last seven years during his illness discussing his thoughts and hopes for Bermuda. Even during his long illness he was still very interested in the future and development of Bermuda as he had so much to do with creating the international business structure that we have today. Donald was the driving force behind the international growth of the Bank of Bermuda and the success that the Bank later achieved around the world. Many of Donald's accomplishments and relationships in business are well known but what many may not know was that Donald was a very involved family man." Mr Lines is survived by his wife Janine, four children, four stepchildren and 17 grandchildren. Other survivors include brother David Lines and numerous nieces and nephews. A funeral service for Donald Lines will be held at St Johns Church, Pembroke on Thursday at 3pm.

December 15. Former colleagues of Donald Lines from his time as Bank of Bermuda president yesterday hailed the businessman as the driving force for the banks international expansion. Cummings Zuill said that he was saddened to hear of Mr Lines passing, saying: "I liked the guy very much. He was a terrific man, very bright. He did a lot for the bank and Bermuda. It was a pleasure to work with him. He was very strong and dynamic, which sometimes caused some challenges, but he was a good man and a nice man. The bank would probably not have expanded internationally in way it did without Mr Lines as a driving force. We needed someone like Donald who was very internationally minded, very wise and very knowledgeable about what it took to move the bank forward. I think that the expansion and the network that we were able to build was very impressive for such a small bank. Of course later on we were playing against the big boys and we couldn't compete with their capital." Barry Shailer meanwhile said that Mr Lines was a tough but fair leader who was always very conscious of the impact the bank on the Island as a whole. "I remember him saying that there will be times when the bank has to make decisions which are not necessarily good for the bank but good for Bermuda.. He saw the importance of the bank to Bermuda and how it could influence the greater success of the Island. He was an inspiration to those who were fortunate enough to work with him. More than anyone he was responsible for the international expansion of the bank, ultimately into 14 countries around the world where we had offices."  

December 15. Three Bermuda hotels have made Travel + Leisure's 2015 list of World's Best Hotels. Rosewood Tucker's Point, Cambridge Beaches Resort and The Reefs are all included in the list, the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) announced. "This is a tremendous accomplishment for the entire workforces at these three fine properties," said Bill Hanbury, chief executive officer of the BTA. "To win recognition of this kind requires a hospitality product that is of the highest quality at every link of the service chain. The entire team here at the BTA congratulates the teams at Tucker's Point, Cambridge Beaches and The Reefs for this well-earned accolade." A BTA statement said that each year Travel + Leisure publishes a list of the world's 500 best hotels as determined by its magazine readers, whom they described as "well-read." The listed properties from Bermuda are categorized under the Caribbean region. BTA noted this was the first time Cambridge Beaches has been named to the list. Rosewood Tucker's Point and The Reefs have been honoured previously. The full list is available online at travelandleisure.com. The print version will be published in the January, 2015 edition of Travel + Leisure.

December 16.  A bank chief who left Clarien Bank three months ago is to join its parent company in a top role. Zoran Fotak, who left Clarien Bank earlier this year, will become CEO of CWH Ltd, which is the 80 per cent majority shareholder in Clarien Bank. Mitchell Hedstrom, who is on the board of directors of Clarien Group, a 20 per cent minority shareholder in the bank, is to replace Keith Stock as chairman of CWH, although Mr Stock will continue to have a seat on the board. Mr Fotak is a board member of Clarien Group, of which he was a co-founder. He left his post as co-CEO of Clarien Bank in October, although he had been on leave since July. Ian Truran, who had been co-CEO of the bank with Mr Fotak, continued in the top job. Mr Fotak was with St George's Asset Management before joining Clarien Bank and has more than 25 years of senior financial services experience, including time as a director of Merrill Lynch International Bank in the US. Mr Hedstrom, also a founder of Clarien Group, is former senior adviser to the emerging markets group of Alliant Insurance. He was previously managing director and business risk executive at TIAA-DREF and served as a consultant to the Bermuda Monetary Authority on the Basel II accord on banking laws and regulation in 2007.

December 16.  A new reinsurance company has launched in Bermuda with the aim of expanding the reach of insurance-linked securities (ILS). Sequant Re Holdings Ltd announced today that its new Class 3 Bermuda reinsurer had completed its financing. The company said "Sequant Re combines ILS and Bermuda's unique segregated account structure to offer a flexible and highly efficient platform for the transfer and securitisation of insurance risks." The founding principals are chief executive officer Guy Cloutier, formerly of American Safety Re, and chief risk and underwriting officer David Lalonde, a former senior vice-president at AIR Worldwide who spent 19 years with the catastrophe modeling team. The new company's directors include Peter Hughes, founder and chairman of Apex Fund Services, a Bermuda start-up which has become one of the world's largest independent fund and private-equity administration companies with $30 billion in assets under management. Andrew Cooke, former treasurer at Lumbermen Mutual casualty Company where he managed a $2.5 billion investment portfolio, is also a director. "Sequant Re's goal is to lower barriers for investors and expand the reach of risk transfer and securitisation solutions in the reinsurance market," Sequant Re said in its statement. "Sequant Re will allow investors of any size to participate in the risk transfer business with as few limitations as possible, whether the commitment is short term and opportunistic or long term and strategic." Mr Cloutier, a qualified actuary, has spent 14 of his 35 years in the insurance industry working in the Bermuda market. He began his career in Canada and after working for several companies in senior executive positions, he founded Canadian Insurance Direct, an operation he grew to 200 staff and more than 100,000 customers in the space of four years. After running a consulting firm in Bermuda for four years, he built a reinsurance operation called American Safety Re, which wrote third-party reinsurance in the US and London markets from Bermuda. "Innovation in platforms and products is the biggest opportunity in ILS," said Mr Cloutier. "Our goal is to lower barriers for investors and expand the reach of risk transfer and securitisation solutions. ILS make it possible for anyone to transfer risks to investors willing to accept them. Sequant Re provides an efficient platform for matching capital with risks." Mr Cloutier formed Sequant Holdings Ltd in 2012 to begin the development, licensing and financing of Sequant Re. The firm said it had prepared for the launch by actively talking to brokerage firms with a view to establishing long-term partnerships for the sourcing of risks and development of products. "They are excited to have an avenue to provide innovative and collateralised protection solutions for their clients for more than just peak peril risks," Sequant Re stated. "We will continue to build and enhance the management team in the coming months." Mr Lalonde said: "I am thrilled to be joining Guy, who has been hard at work formulating these concepts for quite some time. We now have developed and refined a process and the tools necessary to make risk transfer and investing efficient and flexible all within one entity operating in the time-tested Bermuda regulatory regime." Sequant Re is licensed for all lines of insurance business, except life insurance. The company will be based on the seventh floor of Cumberland House, in Victoria Street, Hamilton.

Sequant Re

Sequant Re, new reinsurer

December 17. Telecoms firm CableVision is to increase its infrastructure capability by 50 times, the firm revealed yesterday. The firm said it would use fiber networks direct to homes and lead to faster download times and allow for new services. CableVision CEO Terry Roberson said that upgrades would also be carried out in the west end in time for the massively increased demand for data services during the global America's Cup. Mr Roberson said: "We feel it's an appropriate time for us to position our company for the future where we can deliver exceptional services with technology that will be relevant over the next ten to 15 years. We also believe that this will assist in selling Bermuda as a sophisticated technological centre to the international business community. We also look forward to providing new products and services starting in the western end of the Island, just in time for the America's Cup, which will mainly operate out of Dockyard." But Mr Roberson declined to discuss the cost of the upgrade and what it might mean for consumer prices. He said: "At this point, we are not able to answer these questions, as they relate to sensitive competitive issues." CableVision said the upgrades will allow for download speeds of up to 900 megs " just short of one gig " and upload speeds of 200 megs. The company claimed that the increased capacity would mean movies would be downloaded in only a few minutes, while the improved network will also support triple play services , TV, internet and phone as well as bigger data services for businesses. CableVision added that the new system will be more reliable and lead to fewer outages, even when Island electricity services are out of action. "Customers will experience minimal disruption during this rebuild as their quality of service improves and they see new products rolled out over time, including TV Everywhere and IPIT."

December 17. The last cruise ship of the season has come and gone, pulling the curtain down on 2014 cruise schedule. The Ocean Princess came alongside in the capital yesterday morning after arriving from Funchal in Madeira. The luxury liner and her 700 passengers only stayed on Island for a matter of hours before leaving Bermuda in the afternoon bound for Fort Lauderdale in the US. The ship is the 130th cruise call of the year. The next liner that will arrive in Bermuda will be the Hamburg, which arrives in Hamilton on February 9. The 2015 season is expected to be marginally more busy with an additional six cruise stops compared to this year. It will also see the return of the Veendam into Hamilton, which is scheduled to make six calls to Bermuda from Boston. Meanwhile, apart from the lone cruise ship, there's just the Oleander and the Bermuda Islander in town this week bringing in the last of the Christmas supplies.

December 19. Beverage giant Bacardi has given a cautious welcome to the normalization of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, but down-played the question of whether it would consider moving its headquarters from Bermuda to the Caribbean island. The Bacardi family that owns the company fled Cuba in 1959 in the wake of Fidel Castro's revolution, after its rum distilleries and assets were seized by the new government. It reorganized and today it has a Bermuda holding company, with its global headquarters in an iconic building on Pitts Bay Road, where it employs some 65 people. The US initially recognised Mr Castro's revolutionary government, but broke off diplomatic relations in 1961. On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama signaled a change of direction, which was greeted with jubilation in Cuba. But Bacardi greeted the development with caution. In response to questions from The Royal Gazette, Bacardi said yesterday it was proud of its Cuban roots. "We have the utmost respect and sympathy for the Cuban people with whom we share a common heritage," Bacardi added. "Regarding the diplomatic actions yesterday, we will need to wait and see what the impacts are. We hope for meaningful improvements in the lives of the Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest. In the meantime, we continue to support the restoration of fundamental human rights in Cuba." It did not directly address the question of whether the US move could at some point result in a move of its headquarters back to Cuba. However, in an interview with Cigar Aficionado published five months ago, Bacardi chairman Facundo Bacardi made the company's feelings about Cuba very clear. Asked by the publication what would happen if the US trade embargo on Cuba were dropped, Mr Bacardi said: "The vision of the family and the company is to come full circle. We will be back in Cuba, and we will invest beyond what it will take just to build the brand. We see Cuba as our home. I would say about half our family members were born in Cuba. We left before the revolution, and we have every intention of going back, rebuilding our business and helping the Cuban people."

Bacardi Bermuda HQ

Bacardi Bermuda HQ

December 19. Cancer patients are to be offered radiation treatment on Island for the first time thanks to an ambitious $6.5 to $7 million project by the Bermuda Cancer & Health Centre. BCHC executive director Tara E Soares said the centre plans to bring the radiation equipment to the Island through community fundraising and corporate sponsorship while a specialized team will be hired to carry out treatment. It is hoped the project, which includes building a high density, underground vault at the centre to contain the high levels of radiation, will be completed by the end of 2015. Staff-wise, the hospital is to hire an oncologist in 2015 who is trained to deliver radiation therapy to patients. BHCB will work much more closely with the hospital as a result. There will also be two new nurses who will work with the patients and a medical physicist to operate the machine. Having radiation treatment locally means that patients will no longer need to travel off the Island for extended periods while incurring significant out of pocket expenses. Local treatment would cost around half of what a patient would have to pay to go overseas, according to the centre. An estimated 18 per cent of Bermuda residents or fewer than 12,000 residents have only basic health insurance or no health insurance at all. The centre says it already has some reserve funding available. The major fundraiser is the annual Relay for Life event which takes place on May 29 and 30 next year. Thanks to the new facility, patients will be able to be treated in Bermuda surrounded by loved ones and caregivers, including PALS nurses. According to the centre, most people receiving radiation treatment will cope well with the treatment and therefore will be able to continue working. Ms Soares said: "In addition to existing cancer treatment services available on the Island, the introduction of radiation therapy will close a significant gap and will result in local comprehensive cancer care services at the BCHC.  Our vision is to serve the community building lives free of cancer and disease. By working together, with other not-for-profit charity partners, we will help reduce care costs, provide a much needed service for cancer treatment and also ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community have the access to treatment available locally. According to the American Cancer Society, men have slightly less than a one in two lifetime risk of developing cancer. For women, the risk is a little more than one in three. Based on the current Bermuda population, BCHC said it expected that nearly 27,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Ms Soares said the recommendation is one machine for a 100,000 population so the machine will be operating at about 65 per cent capacity. The centre says the savings to healthcare costs will be between $6 to $7 million per year. Judy White, vice-chairwoman of the board at BCHB, said: "I want to add that in addition to financial cost savings to Bermuda, one of the reasons I am so committed to this programme is the emotional cost which you can't put a price tag on. If someone goes away for radiation therapy they are going for at least four to six weeks sitting in a hotel room, they are only required to go to hospital for half an hour or an hour every day for radiation and often they don't have family support. We now know, through medical science, that half the cure is mental well-being and being here in Bermuda with your loved ones, your family, your spouse, children, family, friends to support you. You can't put a price tag on that."

December 19. Reinsurance firm Aspen Re has renewed its Silverton Re subsidiary for next year with $85 million in capital. Silverton Re, set up to help investors with access to diversified catastrophe risk, will be used to write a quota share of Aspen Re's catastrophe portfolio. Aspen Re CEO Stephen Postlewhite said:  "Our objective when we established Silverton Re was to partner with the capital markets so that we are able to provide investors with access to diversified natural catastrophe risk backed by the distribution, underwriting, analysis and research expertise of Aspen Re. We are pleased with the progress that we have made in developing strong partnerships with new investors." A total of $15 million was provided by Aspen, with the remaining $70 million raised from outside investors. Silverton Re will enter into a quota share retrocession agreement with Aspen Bermuda Limited under which Silverton Re will reinsure a proportionate share of Aspen Re's globally diversified property catastrophe excess of loss portfolio. Bermuda-based Silverton Re was set up in 2013 as a special purpose insurer with start-up capital of $65 million to provide additional collateralised capacity to back its parent company's global reinsurance business. 

Aspen Re

Aspen Re

December 20. Local officials will play a significant role ensuring the safety of participating teams during the 35th America's Cup and preceding Challenger Series. With the wing-sailed AC45 and AC62 catamarans capable of reaching speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour, Iain Murray, the regatta director and former America's Cup skipper, revealed that some locals will be given the vital task of making sure spectator boats stay well clear of the race course in the Great Sound. We're going to need very strong support in course marshalling and race management, and I expect we'll be relying heavily on the local support for this," Murray said. "Control of the race course area is more important than ever before. The race boats are extremely fast now, so providing a well-defined, exclusive area for the boats is very important from a safety point of view." Murray has been reappointed as regatta director by the Competitor Forum, comprising the six teams registered for the 2017 America's Cup, having served in the same role at the previous America's Cup in San Francisco in 2013. As regatta director, the past Etchells and 18ft Skiff world champion and boat designer will work in collaboration with all of the teams as well as Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller in setting the competitive parameters for the event. He will be required to nominate regatta officials, including a Measurement Committee and umpires, as well as administer the Regatta Officials Fund to a budget agreed by the competitors. Each team contributes in equal measure to the fund, initially through their entry fees. Asked will any local umpires/judges officiate at the next America's Cup and Challenger Series, the Australian Olympic sailor said: "We'll be working with the teams to look internationally for the best qualified people for the Umpiring roles." Bermudians Kirk Cooper and Peter Shrubb have both officiated in previous America's Cups. Past Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Shrubb officiated in the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia, Spain, the only other time a syndicate has defended the "Auld Mug" in neutral waters, as will be the case when Oracle Team USA rest their title on the line in Bermuda in 2017.

December 22.  As world oil prices fall, the Island is feeling the benefit with the price of gas now at its lowest since 2010, and power firm Belco also cutting its rates. Rubis last week set its gas price at $1.767 a litre, a 17.1 cent fall compared to November prices, while the price of diesel has gone down 14.8 cents to $1.602 a litre. Businesses and householders will soon feel more of the benefits of the lower oil prices when Belco cuts its fuel adjustment rate to 12 cents next month, which follows a December fall to 13 cents per kilowatt hour, down 4.5 cents compared to the November rate. A Belco spokeswoman said: "Belco endeavors to minimise the cost to the customer by negotiating the best possible prices, purchasing when the market is low, selecting the most economical fuel and maximizing plant efficiency." Rubis said its gas prices were at their lowest since February 2010, while the price of diesel has not been so cheap since Cup Match of the same year. The Belco spokeswoman said that the cost of fuel for the firm was the total of the price paid on the world market, plus tanker transportation to the Island and the standard Bermuda Customs duty of $15.10 a barrel. She added: "As the actual cost of fuel changes on the world market the fuel adjustment cost changes." The fuel adjustment rate is set every month by the Energy Commission, based on a calculation that includes the cost of fuel and projected usage, and starts with a base cost of $30 per barrel of fuel. The moves follow a plunge in the price of oil to below $60 a barrel, its lowest level in five years, although it rallied slightly on Friday, closing at $62.15 per barrel. OPEC, a group of the major oil producers, last month failed to agree on production cuts, largely because Saudi Arabia, OPEC's biggest oil producer, opposed cuts in its own exports of crude. OPEC controls around 40 per cent of the world market in oil. Saudi petroleum minister Ali Naimi said that "a lack of cooperation by non-OPEC production nations, along with the spread of misinformation and speculators' greed" had contributed to the slump in the price of crude oil. Saudi Arabia, which has massive reserves of cash built up over years, is better able to weather lower prices, unlike non-OPEC nations like Russia and OPEC members Iran, Iraq and Venezuela, who need prices higher than the present levels to meet their budgets. Analysts said the bearish fundamental conditions of massive production and shrinking demand remain in place and are expected to continue in the first half of 2015. Macquarie Bank strategist Vikas Dwivedi said: "We continue to see further downside risk for Brent as the oversupply in the global market continues to grow."

December 24. Transport bosses have warned drivers they could be penalized for painting colorful logos on their vehicles without proper authorization. The Transport Control Department (TCD) has launched a review of the current policy that allows for a company's branded logo to appear on one panel of each side of the vehicle. A TCD spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette that enforcement measures could be taken for those who do not comply with the current rules and seek permission first. She added: "TCD is aware that there are vehicles on the road with wrapping or extended branded logos, that do not have TCD approval. This would be vehicles with the sides or the entire vehicle wrapped with art design. Some have even gone as far as advertising their services. They remove the wrapping for testing and have it reinstalled after the test." The rules controlling the colours and sizes of vehicle lettering is governed by The Motor Car (Control of Design, Colour and Advertising Matter) Regulations 1952. The regulations also makes provision for diagrams or trademarks and logos on vehicles. Section 7(3) of the Regulation state: "Except with the approval in writing of the Minister, no writing, drawing or any device whatever shall extend beyond the front door of any restricted motor car, this would be trucks, buses, instructional vehicles or of any trailer in the direction of the front of such motor car or trailer, and no slogans may be painted, printed or affixed to any part of such motor car or trailer. The policy has been that permission has been granted for a company's branded logo on only one panel of each side of a vehicle. Unfortunately, companies that know or do not know the restrictions, take the liberty of installing artwork without seeking permission. The process is very easy, they take the risk of installing and then having to remove it if caught. We are currently reviewing the matter with a view to raising awareness and then enforcement for those that do not comply."

December 24. Bermuda-based bond insurer Assured Guaranty Ltd has agreed to pay $810 million to buy the financial guaranty business of Philadelphia-based Radian Group. Assured's chief executive officer Dominic Frederico said the deal would boost earnings per share and would significantly increase the company's book of business. Assured is a major player in the US municipal bond insurance market and provides credit protection products to structured finance markets. The Bermuda company's subsidiary Assured Guaranty Corp (AGC) has entered into the agreement to buy Radian Asset Assurance Inc. The US company is working to streamline its business and focus on insuring home loans. US regulators are planning to tighten oversight of the mortgage insurance business and the capital from the sale of the financial guaranty unit will help Radian to meet the enhanced requirements. "The acquisition will strengthen Assured Guaranty's franchise by adding a solid book of business that is consistent with our strategic objectives and will also increase AGC's capital base and policyholders' surplus," Mr Frederico said. "We expect the transaction to be accretive to Assured Guaranty's earnings per share, operating shareholders' equity and adjusted book value. Additionally, the acquisition should enhance the value and market liquidity of the bonds insured by Radian Asset." Radian Asset had an insured portfolio of $19.4 billion at risk as of September 30. That would bring AGC's total net par outstanding to $68.3 billion. Radian Asset has approximately $1.3 billion of statutory capital, and Assured Guaranty estimates the transaction will increase AGC's statutory capital by $425 million to $475 million. "We are committed to streamlining our business and aligning our strategy toward the mortgage and real estate markets," Radian Group CEO SA Ibrahim said in Radian's statement on the proposed deal. This agreement marks an important milestone as we prepare for finalization of the proposed PMIERs in 2015. While we expect to fully comply, the sale of Radian Asset will help to accelerate our ability to do so." Assured Guaranty shares rose 2.3 per cent in New York trading yesterday, to close at $26.05. Radian Group shares gained two per cent to close on $16.60. Goldman Sachs Group Inc advised Radian on the sale. Assured Guaranty used Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch and Mayer Brown LLP.

December 28. In 2017, Bermuda is to take part in Canada's 150th anniversary of its Confederation by playing host to a fleet of tall ships early in June, greatly adding to the buzz of the 2017 America's Cup races taking place in local waters. The announcement came from Sail Training Association Bermuda chairman John Wadson, courtesy of the global group Sail Training International, which is helping to organize the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. "We have a long, long history of the tall ships coming here," Mr Wadson told The Royal Gazette. "This is a Transatlantic event, and they don't happen that often  so this will make for a very special time, when the majestic tall ships are in the same place as the highest tech sailing vessels going. It's going to be quite a contrast." The stopover from June 1 to June 5, arranged in tandem with Le Rendez-Vous Naval de Quebec, will give sailors a welcome rest break before they continue north for Canada's celebrations. Mr Wadson said that having the iconic and historic vessels in Bermuda at the same time as the America's Cup would amount to history meeting with the future. "It's a perfect lead up to the America's Cup event, as tall ships are the sailing machines of the past." America's Cup races will offer the ultimate spectator event, while a tall ships festival in Hamilton would allow the public, including young people, to get up close and personal with the ships. Bermuda has been host to several Transatlantic tall ships fleets, the most recent being in 2000 and again in 2009, when STA Bermuda, placed more than 150 young Bermudians as sail trainees. The Association was also voted Best Host Port by Sail Training International. Sail training uses the sea and tall ships to help young people learn about themselves, discover their hidden strengths and talents and understand the value of working as a team. Mr Wadson said that in the Island's latest sailing coup, STA Bermuda had enjoyed the support of the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The Association will collaborate with Government and the Corporation of Hamilton, as well as other stakeholders in the coming months, to ready yet another top sailing event for Bermuda in the summer of 2017. "Hosting such a major event, and ensuring that the Island once again secures the title of Best Tall Ships Host Port, would take some financial challenges," Mr Wadson said, calling for support from the business community and sports organisations as well as Government. "The key factor is to ensure that every young person in Bermuda who wants to join a tall ships crew in this event is able to do so, regardless of their financial ability or physical challenges. We appreciate that the America's Cup event will require major financial resources, but we will also require support, funding, in, in-kind services and creative ideas to make the tall ships festival accessible and fun for all." Sail Training International, based in the UK, will put together the itinerary for the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. The race will begin in Royal Greenwich, UK on 16 April, 2017, with the ships sailing to Sines, Portugal. Next come Hamilton Bermuda, Boston, various ports in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and importantly Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, where Canada's articles of Confederation were signed On July 1, 1867. The ships will then proceed Quebec City. The final leg will see the fleet sailing back across the Atlantic to Le Havre in France. Mr Wadson expects that the fleet will be significantly enhanced in Bermuda with the arrival of vessels from South and Central America along with vessels that normally winter in the Caribbean, and some from the East Coast that wish to join the race to Boston and the Canadian event that will follow. Generally speaking, young people between the age of 15 and 25 are eligible to join a tall ship crew for any leg of the 2017 race. It is likely that the upper age limit will be increased for those legs that will take place during the school year. STA Bermuda offers partial financial assistance to eligible young people up to the age of 25. For further information, interested persons may contact Mr. Wadson: john.wadson@tallships.bminfo@tallships.bm

December 29. New book traces Bermuda Police history. A founding member of the Nazi party took refuge in Bermuda after Adolf Hitler put him on his hit list. Otto Strasser lived here for several months before authorities in Canada allowed him to enter there. His notoriety drew the attention of British author HG Wells, who famously traveled to the Island in search of him. Strasser's is likely the first file ever compiled by local police. It is one of several significant or particularly interesting security facts laid out in a new book about the Bermuda Police Service in honour of its 135th anniversary. Written by retired officers Alex MacDonald, Andrew Bermingham and Christopher Wilcox, the book details the development of the Bermuda Police Force from 1879 to present day. "Strasser, along with his brother Gregor and Adolf Hitler, founded the Nazi party," explained Mr Bermingham. "He left Germany in 1927 and ended up in Bermuda. He stayed here for a year and then sought refuge in Canada. During his time here he was interviewed by HG Wells who wondered why he was not arrested as he was a war criminal." The book also contains hundreds of photographs. Among them, images of officers who have served during the past decade, Governor Sir Richard Sharples and his aide-de-camp, Hugh Sayers, the day before they were assassinated, US President John F Kennedy on a visit here and the first ever police station in Hamilton. "This book is only possible through the efforts of a man called Ted Burton," said Mr Bermingham. "In 1955 he wrote the first history of the Bermuda Police. It was supplemented by the fact that for many years the police had a magazine published every three months by then Assistant Commissioner James Hanlon supported by Chief Inspector James McNiven." Added Mr MacDonald: "The police officer doesn't work by himself. He needs the support of his family. As a retired officer I see it as an historical piece for generations before and after me." Mr Bermingham produced the magazine for a decade starting in 1985; the job was then taken over by Mr MacDonald in 1995 and Mr Wilcox in 2001. "A lot of people like history but it's a pictorial as well," said Mr MacDonald. "I don't think there are too many pictures of reserve officers on Front Street walking in the 1950s. We tried to capture the faces of the service." Work on the book started in April. The men were assisted by Police Media Relations staff as well as retired officers and family members of officers who have died, Mr Bermingham added. "We got photos from all corners of the world. A picture of the first Hamilton Police Station came from Australia. It was taken in 1899. It's on the site of the old Magistrates Court building on Parliament Street. Other interesting tidbits? There were about 1000 cars on the Island in the 1940s, only one belonged to the police and it was solely for the use of the Commissioner." Also included are the details surrounding the death of Cambridge Beaches proprietor Hugh Gray's wife in the 1920s. The Grays went to lunch with Inspector Dennis Alderson and at 3am the following morning, they all decided to go for a boat ride. "Allegedly a squall blew up and the boat turned over," said Mr Bermingham. "Inspector Alderson and Mrs Gray died; Hugh Gray was rescued. Five days later Inspector Vernon Jackson was called to Spanish Point where they'd found the body of Inspector Alderson. He was known to wear a cummerbund around his waist and it was found around his neck. There was an inquest, however the magistrate didn't allow Mr Gray to be questioned and he was cleared of any wrongdoing. There was a rumor that it was a love triangle that went wrong," Mr Bermingham said. The book can now be ordered at the Bookmart at Brown and Company. Copies will be limited to a single printing of 2,000 copies. The 1,500 softbound copies are priced at $36; 500 hard-bound copies are $60.

December 29. A US hedge fund manager is being sued in a $46 million Bermuda court case by a billionaire investor. Meredith Whitney, who is married to Bermuda resident ex-WWE wrestler and TV pundit John Layfield, has been taken to court by billionaire Michael Platt. Mr Platt's BlueCrest Capital Management went to court in a bid to get back its stake in Ms Whitney's (also Bermuda-registered) American Revival Fund. Ms Whitney's hedge fund slipped 11 per cent this year up to November, despite a rising stock market. Ms Whitney's lawyer Stanley Arkin told Bloomberg News: "A lawsuit was filed in Bermuda, contrary explicitly to a contractual agreement that any lawsuits or legal disputes would be resolved here in New York." And when asked what sparked the redemption demand, Mr Arkin referred to BlueCrest's own returns and client withdrawals. Mr Arkin added: "I will tell you she feels insulted. She really feels offended." BlueCrest declined to comment on the legal action. Ms Whitney, who shot to fame as a Wall Street analyst when she warned that US banking giant Citigroup was in financial trouble a year before the 2008 global financial crisis, started a new firm, Kenbelle Capital (also Bermuda-registered), with help from Mr Platt, a British investment manager who lives in Switzerland, in 2013. The BlueCrest fund invested $50 million in Kenbelle in November that year, but asked to redeem its stake in October this year with a payment deadline in November. BlueCrest said that the request had been accepted by a Kenbelle executive, but that the expected payout date had passed. The legal action, which claims American Revival violated agreements, does not name Ms Whitney or any Kenbelle executives and wants the return of its stake along with costs and other relief. Ms Whitney, who is said to be spending much of her time in Bermuda, aimed for returns of 12 to 17 per cent from her fund by profiting from what she called "America's heartland", according to a presentation last year. But the fund was down in eight of the past 11 months, according to its returns, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed around 12 per cent over the same time period. The move by BlueCrest took place in a tough year for fledgling money managers, with institutional investors preferring the biggest players and hedge funds shutting down at a rate not seen since the start of the financial crisis. On average, hedge funds returned about two per cent during the year's first 11 months, according to Bloomberg statistics. Top executives at Kenbelle, including the chief financial officer and a co-founder, have left the firm and its offices in a high-rise on Manhattan's Madison Avenue is listed for sublease.

December 29. A new firm has been set up by Government to help run the America's Cup yacht races. The new limited liability company, to be called ACBDA Ltd, will work closely with the event's ruling body, the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), in the run-up to the 2017 finals. "In the lead-up to the venue announcement, Bermuda had a group of very committed individuals, a very capable team that successfully bid to bring the America's Cup event to Bermuda in 2017," Dr Grant Gibbons, the Minister for Economic Development, said. "But now we have a different job to do. We need a focused administrative organization that will work closely with the America's Cup Event Authority on the management and supervision of our responsibilities as the host country. ACBDA Ltd will play a critical role in delivering on our obligations and making the America's Cup happen. More details on the structure, organization and operation of the new company, which was gazetted under the Companies Act last week, will be released later. It's a facilitation group, it's a host group in a way, to assist the ACEA to host these events. We needed a structure that was more substantial and company structures are well understood in terms of how they function and it was possible to set up a company quite quickly. It will help as a liaison, for example, to assist teams that will be coming in as part of the America's Cup events." And he explained that ACBDA will work with Wedco, which runs Dockyard, to ensure it was ready for the event and also with the Corporation of Hamilton to guarantee smooth sailing for the America's Cup series races due to be held in October next year. Dr Gibbons said: "It might work with others to assist with, for example, getting appropriate Government permissions in areas like planning. The new company will be similar in structure to the existing Bermuda Land Development Company and will have only one shareholder, the Government. Crew members, representatives of the ACEA and others connected with the events will begin to move to Bermuda in early 2015, as they practice and prepare for professional racing commencing in Bermuda waters from October 16 to 18 with the America's Cup World Series." Dr Gibbons told the House of Assembly this month that it was important to set up a framework for the event to ensure that Bermudians would be able to benefit from the prestige racing event. ACBDA is expected to be up and running by next month. The ACEA has scheduled a series of racing events in Bermuda beginning with the America's Cup World Series. Other events will include the Youth America's Cup in 2017, the America's Cup Challenger Play-offs 2017, the America's Cup Concert Series 2017 and the America's Cup Super-Yacht Regatta 2017, leading up to the finals, to be held in June 2017.

December 30. The decision on whether the Bermuda Regiment should become an entirely volunteer force or manned through conscription is left in principle to the Government and Parliament, Governor George Fergusson has said. The group Nine Colonels, which represents former commanding Officers in the Bermuda Regiment since its inception in 1965, has argued that conscription is the only way to maintain the required level of manpower, which is 400 soldiers. Col Eugene Raynor and Lt Col Rance both raised the question of whether Bermuda could maintain the numbers required without conscription. "Economic conditions, social attitudes play a big part," Lt Col Rance said. When our economy is buoyant, there is going to be less interest in volunteering because the bonus payments are not as significant as during hard times. We think that if conscription is abolished, it will be extremely difficult or impossible for politicians to write it back into the legislation. The Government of the day will have a difficult task on its hands to reintroduce conscription." Lt Col Rance also called the question of whether it is the Governor or the Government who holds responsibility for making the decision "interesting." He explained that certain aspects of the management of the Regiment, including finance, public relations and recruitment, fall under the Bermuda Government. However, ensuring that the level of manpower required for the Regiment to execute its duties is sustained may not fall under the party in power. "If you had a legal counselor review this, it would be interesting to see what they had to say," Lt Col Rance added. "The Governor explained that he was responsible for the Regiment under Bermuda's constitution. The Governor has constitutional responsibility for the Regiment. I have made clear that I do not consider conscription to be essential in these times for national security and therefore have been content to leave the decision in principle on retaining conscription or not to the Government and Parliament. It is important nonetheless that transition is managed in a way which does not have an undue effect on the Regiment. I am satisfied that this is being managed properly. I also welcome the steadily rising numbers of volunteers and the signs of more soldiers opting to stay longer in the Regiment. Both these factors help the transition to an all-volunteer organization." Lt Col Michael Foster-Brown, the Regiment commanding officer, also said the Governor was responsible for the Island's military force. "The Commander-in-Chief of the Regiment is His Excellency the Governor, who has constitutional responsibility for the Regiment.  His Excellency has made clear that he does not consider conscription to be essential for national security and was content to leave the decision on retaining conscription or not to the Government and Parliament. The Regiment is doing everything within its power to meet the Government's intent to end conscription. We have had some early success and Recruit Camp 15 is likely to see a record number of volunteers, approximately 70, but we are not complacent about the challenges, not least the relatively small pool from which we are seeking recruits. There are also encouraging signs of an increase in the retention rate, those staying on after completing their compulsory service, which will also have an impact on recruitment numbers. To mitigate that challenge, and the fact volunteers cost more to attract and retain, the Regiment has requested an additional $275,000 to fund recruiting and retention incentives, and advertising. Conscription has a social function through the mixing of soldiers from different backgrounds, but volunteers tend to be more motivated. Many find their service very rewarding and half the Regiment are currently volunteers, although most of that number were originally conscripted. Current financial incentives to join are $500. The Government has consistently stated that the Regiment's operational capability will be maintained and legislation provides that, if there are not enough volunteers to meet the number of soldiers required, a form of compulsory service can be retained or re-implemented." The Regiment said it offers recruits adventure, good pay, leadership and management experience, fun, new friendships, national pride, new challenges and life skills. Efforts to obtain comment from Michael Dunkley, the Premier, on the Government's position regarding responsibility on the question of conscription were unsuccessful. For more information on the Bermuda Regiment go to www.bermudaregiment.bm/content/BdaRegRecruit.pdf.

December 31. The death of a tourist visiting Bermuda on a cruise ship more than a decade ago has created a legal precedent in the United States. The ruling by a US appeals court would allow those injured on cruise ships to sue cruise lines for medical negligence by ship staff. Pasquale Vaglio, an 82-year-old retired New York City policeman, was visiting the Island on board the Explorer of the Seas in August 2001, when he fell and struck his head shortly after leaving the vessel for a sightseeing trip. He was wheeled back to the ship's medical unit, where a nurse told him that he should rest in his cabin. Mr Vaglio and his family returned to their cabin but his condition steadily worsened, leading his daughter to contact ship personnel about 90 minutes later. Mr Vaglio was seen by the ship's doctor, who sent him to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. He was subsequently airlifted off the Island but died a week later. His family subsequently launched a legal action against Royal Caribbean, the cruise line that operates the ship, alleging that the ship's medical staff had acted negligently by failing to diagnose his condition and failing to carry out or recommend any diagnostic tests. Lawyers for the cruise line, however, argued that the Barbetta Rule protects the owners of a ship from allegations of medical negligence by its medical staff, who they argued in this case were independent contractors. The District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed the case, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently found that the existing rules were outdated, and noted that the doctor and nurse wore cruise ship uniforms and were presented as ship employees. In a decision, Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus wrote: "Much has changed in the quarter-century since Barbetta. As we see it, the evolution of legal norms, the rise of a complex cruise industry and the progression of modern technology have erased whatever utility the Barbetta rule once may have had." The ruling is not the end of the legal matter but, if not overturned, it will give the Vaglio family an opportunity to argue their case before the courts.

December 31. Government's new work permit policy will come into force at the start of March, Sen Michael Fahy, the Home Affairs Minister, announced today. The implementation of the policy was delayed after unexpected problems arose with a specific category of permit called the Bermuda Employment Visa, which has since been abandoned. The new rules include the introduction of the Global Entrepreneur Work Permit to allow individuals who are planning start-up companies in Bermuda to apply for work permits. Permit holders can live in Bermuda while conducting their business planning. The changes provide for a Business Work Permit for new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of their existence. The permit will be available for new exempted companies on a limited basis. The new policy also requires employers to advertise all jobs on the Government Job Board for at least eight consecutive days. Under the new rules, businesses may be asked to participate in initiatives led by the National Training Board to boost the number of Bermudians employed in job categories where there are high numbers of work permit holders. "It was about finding the right balance between assisting international business in getting the best employees they can in a competitive marketplace, while also ensuring that qualified Bermudians are given the opportunities we deserve," Sen Fahy said. "A balance which I believe has now been found due to the extensive consultative process.  The policy was put together after widespread consultation with industry leaders as well as a raft of stakeholder groups. Overall, we believe these changes will demonstrate to the local and international community that Bermuda continues to be open for business as we continue to cut down on the red tape which hinders our growth as an international business domicile. I believe that the policy changes will make employers even more responsible and cognizant of their responsibilities to the local workforce. The new policy is available for viewing at the Ministry of Home Affairs web page at www.gov.bm.

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