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Bermuda's History 2014 July through December

News and significant events in the final six months of this calendar year

line drawing

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online

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


It is hoped more July details will be posted in due course.

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 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. “The EPA guidelines for water quality is based on testing the number of enterococci and the number of E. coli in the water,” she explained. “When we looked at [Bermuda’s] geometric data, at the geometric mean of your data, at no time over the last year, over the last five years, have any of your beaches crossed that mean.” Premier Michael Dunkley said Government has been working hard to tackle the issue of water quality, and bringing Dr Indar to Bermuda to evaluate testing efforts was just one step furthering public confidence in the Island’s water quality. Asked about other efforts being taken to remedy the issue, he said: “I think the people of Bermuda are well aware the challenges that we face since this report started to get into the media in spring of this year. At that time, Government was very quick to act, to assess the situation and put in short term, medium term and long term plans to deal with the challenge. Obviously, we are well aware that it didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight.” The Premier said the short term, medium term and long term plans are all still in effect, but Government wanted to ensure it was following proper testing procedures with the water samples and that Government results were accurate. Minister for Health, Seniors and the Environment Jeanne Atherden noted several efforts in place to tackle the issue, including working to ensure proper disposal of grease and oil. “We are continuing to make sure that the establishments in Hamilton are visited and inspected by a retired health inspector, now working with the Corporation of Hamilton, on the review of the affluence, and monitoring the compliance with the fats, grease and oil levels established by the Corporation of Hamilton. The KEMH was also inspected and meetings were held with relevant members of the Hospitals Board. The report of the inspections will be anticipated shortly.” She also noted that the results of the Department’s water testing are available online at the Department’s Bermuda Government website.

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. 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. 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. “Outsourcing to specialists in the fund servicing sector is growing fast as managers look to keep headcount low and minimise operating costs.  In addition, fund administration is playing an increasingly important role in the support of regulatory reporting as well as providing the right infrastructure needed for managers to get significant allocations. These trends are set to continue and going forward, Apex requires the strongest leadership team available to meet these changes. Having managed Apex since its formation I am proud of the global services and solutions Apex provides its clients. It is very satisfying to have set new standards for the fund administration sector and to be recognised as one of the largest independent providers of these services with the largest global footprint." Mr Salus, who has over 30 years of experience in sales, management and consulting in the investment and financial services industry, was previously managing director and business executive for BNY Mellon’s asset servicing organization. He also held senior positions at PNC Global Investment Servicing, KeyCorp, Security Pacific Bank and Bank of America. “Joining Apex offers a unique opportunity to lead an independent, fast growing organization with a strong management team and tremendous customer support,” Mr Salus said. “I look forward to leveraging my experience to increase Apex’s share of the fund administration market."

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. "Once we get through the transaction Prestige's ships are already scheduled for the next 12-18 months," Mr Sheehan said. "But this acquisition could enable us to think more about Bermuda especially given that both Oceania and Regent (which fall under Prestige) deal with the high end of the market. Both of these brands, we would think, would have customers who would favour Bermuda as a destination. Many of the smaller, high end ships would be perfect for Bermuda. They could come into Hamilton for a couple of days and maybe St George's for a couple of days. But we do not own the company at this point. It is something we would look at in the future. It's certainly an option we would consider." An acquisition agreement between Norwegian and Prestige was signed on September 2, 2014. The $3 billion transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions before it is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014. At present two Norwegian cruise lines; the Breakaway and the Dawn, are regular callers to Bermuda, while Prestige owns upper-premium cruise operator Oceania Cruises and luxury cruise operator Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The company operates eight ships, with about 6,500 berths. At present a handful of Prestige's ships visit Bermuda, but those that do are just occasional callers. "We would be open to bringing more of the smaller ships into Bermuda. it seems like the perfect market, " Mr Sheehan said. "We continue to be excited about Bermuda as a destination."

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. “The feature in Delta Sky is likely to be a eight to ten page feature in their in-house magazine that will be seen by more than 5.5 million readers,” he said. “We believe it’s a really valuable partnership and a great way to get the Bermuda product to a new market of executives and travelers that routinely travel with Delta. We have been working with Air Canada and West Jet and have collectively invested $800,000 into getting the Bermuda product better recognised in the Canadian market. Earlier this year we met with Jet Blue and they would like to be a year around service provider from Boston, which would be great for us. However there’s still more to accomplish in building demand for Bermuda out of the Boston market.” Since its inception this year the BTA has been able to deal directly with the airlines to help revitalize the tourism industry. “We have had meetings with all the major players,” Mr Hanbury said. “To the credit of the Airport Authority we have been allowed to deal directly with the airlines regarding marketing issues. Airline relationship building is critical, and our work over the last few months with BA was one of the main reasons that we were able to get the X Factor crews over here. We are speaking with the airlines all the time to see how we can boost numbers.”

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. The spokesman said: “After more than four decades serving the discreet visitor yearning for charming Bermuda hospitality in a small, personalized setting, the family-owned property will retain its appeal and traditional charm in a new design better suited to today’s needs.” Ms Lowe was awarded Hotelier of the Year in 1999 and the guest house has won several other awards over the last 44 years. The property claims a 90 percent guest return rate — with generations of the same families returning over the years. The attractive waterfront property was also popular with Bermuda residents and Salt Kettle was a regular host for weddings and other special occasions.

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. That's not such good news, but it is the smallest decline since 2010 and the second smallest since 2008 when the economy last grew in real terms. What this seems to suggest (and there will be disagreement on this) is that the recession finally bottomed out in 2013 which in turns support the indications that the economy is growing in 2014. That does not mean the economy is back where it was before the 2008 crash. In fact the 2013 economy is now functioning at the levels reached in 2006. In real terms, the economy is smaller than it was in 2003. And growth, so far, is slow and uneven. But there was growth in international business and tourism, Bermuda's two main earners of foreign exchange, which Bermuda needs in order to buy virtually everything we consume. It is reasonable to expect that when these areas grow, the rest of the economy will follow. Still, there's a long way to go, and it is also likely that the recovery will be uneven - some sectors of the economy will grow much faster than others, and some will continue to contract. What does this mean for jobs and employment? The employment figures for 2013 showed that the number of jobs continued to decline, falling to 34,277, the lowest level since 1995. So it is pretty clear that jobs growth tends to lag behind economic and productivity growth in this recovery. That has been true around the world. There are a number of reasons for this, some global and some local. As has been widely reported, Government is under pressure to reduce spending and is unlikely to hire, while private sector employers are still very cautious about adding new staff. In addition, technological changes and outsourcing means that job creation by employers is not happening as much in Bermuda, where the cost base remains high, but is happening elsewhere. Even though Bermuda is arguably more competitive now than it was at the start of the recession, this remains a reality. So where was the growth? International business grew for the second straight year, growing 3.5 percent. Growth in re/insurance was offset by declines in financial services. Hotels saw improvement, but restaurants contracted. Transport and communications were steady. Financial intermediation (banks and local insurers) grew slightly. Sectors that continue to struggle include: Construction, which shrank by 4.4 percent and is less than half the size it was in 2007. Wholesale and retail sales sectors declined slightly although car sales rose. Real estate and rentals slipped as did businesses who provide services to international business like accountants and law firms. If the leading areas of growth were in international business and tourism, it makes sense to look for work in these areas, since that is where continued growth is most likely. Of course, it always makes sense to look in sectors where there are disproportionately low numbers of Bermudians working. For people with strong academic backgrounds, there remains demand for actuaries and accountants. People with the ability to work with food will find high demand for chefs, butchers and waiters. The medical field continues to have a disproportionate number of non-Bermudians, including nurses and doctors. Other sectors, like law, IT and accounting are likely to recover in turn, assuming that new businesses needing these services form and set up physical presences in Bermuda. There is some evidence of this, although more start-ups and new tourism ventures are needed to generate new jobs. Against that, jobs that were taken out of Bermuda in the last decade are unlikely to return in a real way, especially in areas like IT. But there is scope in Bermuda for genuinely creative and skilled work and entrepreneurs. The same truth applies for all Bermuda employment. Demand now and in the future is for people with skills - in all areas of the economy. That's the challenge now for Bermuda - to ensure Bermudians of working age have the skills necessary for this new economy - and that students are trained for the new economy as well. 

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.” Pensioners last got an increase in their contributory pension in August 2011 — a three percent rise described by the then Opposition One Bermuda Alliance as “woefully inadequate.” In the meantime, the cost of living in Bermuda has risen by 6.3 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published by the Department of Statistics. Since coming to power in December 2012, the OBA has not increased the state pension, which is paid out of the Contributory Pension Fund. It was reported last year that the fund was under funded by $2.06 billion and its resources would be exhausted by 2047 if current actuarial assumptions remain unchanged. Ms Fleming said Mr Richards told Age Concern members that the fund was in better shape than the Superannuation Fund, which funds government employee pensions. She said the Minister spoke of the “shared sacrifice” that everyone in Bermuda needed to make to improve the Island’s economy and help pay off the Island’s huge debt. “We understand that it’s a shared sacrifice but you have got to remember that this is a generation that’s made a sacrifice while it’s working,” said Ms Fleming. Shadow Seniors Minister Derrick Burgess said last night that seniors were crying out for a rise in their state pensions as “most of their pension cheque is for medication.” The Progressive Labour Party politician said: “What happens in a lot of households is that seniors have to decide if they are going to spend on medicine or food and you can’t take medicine on an empty stomach. The policy was that pensions would be increased every two years based on the CPI. I think the Government has certainly got this wrong.” He cited the freezing this year of cost-of-living increases for government employee pensions as another bad decision and questioned why Government wasn’t asking others to make sacrifices. “No one has asked the doctors to, say, ‘cut your fees by ten percent’,” said Mr Burgess. Ms Fleming said the rising cost of healthcare for seniors was a key topic during the question-and-answer session but there was no indication that things were likely to improve. Mr Richards and Health and Seniors Minister Jeanne Atherden, who also attended the AGM as a panellist, were asked if monthly payments for the FutureCare health insurance plan were likely to come down or if additional benefits would be included in the scheme. The charity minutes record Ms Atherden as saying: “We recognize that the money we have has to get the biggest bang for our buck. We are looking at prescription drugs being included. Generic drugs are not as expensive and that helps. We have to require less healthcare; many illnesses are driven by lifestyles. We have to live healthier lives. Many of the present health risks are related to poor lifestyles. We have to make people go to their doctor, rather than rushing to the hospital for an emergency. Utilization, diagnostic testing have gone way up; living healthily will bring costs down.” Age Concern says it invited all of the Island’s parliamentarians to its AGM on September 10 and was disappointed that none chose to attend, apart from the two Cabinet Ministers. Mr Burgess said: “I sincerely knew nothing about it. If I had gotten an invitation, you can bet your life I’d have been there.” When asked to elaborate on the AGM remarks, a Ministry of Finance spokesman last night said: “At the AGM, the Minister of Finance clearly explained the challenges facing Bermuda’s social pension scheme which is currently under funded by over $2 billion. Another problem facing the plan is that the number of persons that contribute to the fund, the working population, is reducing while the number of pensioners ie seniors, is increasing. This has had a negative impact on the plan with the fund paying out more money than what it takes in. Under these conditions it would be imprudent to increase benefits under the plan at this time. The Government is currently working on rectifying the structural deficiencies of the plan and when these changes are introduced to the plan it may be possible to restore some degree of indexation to all pensioners in the future, depending on how the funded position of the plan and its long term financial viability improves.” Ms Atherden added: “I suspect that seniors will be disappointed at not receiving a pension increase, but I also believe that Bermuda’s seniors understand the importance of being careful with the national purse. They have grown up budgeting carefully for their households, and they expect the Government to do the same with the money in the pension fund.”

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 18. A new charity has been launched, aimed at uniting the community through the empowerment of the Island’s men. Urging the public to support his organization HOUSE (House of Unity and Self-Empowerment), founder Antoine Bean said he was determined to partner with like-minded agencies to reverse the plight of males in Bermuda. The organization has secured a property that it hopes to convert into a men’s emergency shelter, and also aims to provide a 24-hour emergency hotline. Local men were afflicted by “anger and frustration at being unemployed, and in many cases having the lack of the necessary education and life skills to be employed,” Mr Bean said. Along with homelessness, abuse and violence, and recidivism, he said there was a dearth of “substantial programmes in place to provide the necessary support many men require”. HOUSE will start off with a family fun day and fundraiser at Dockyard’s Bermuda Fun Golf on Saturday, September 27. The initiative is not religious but Mr Bean said he had felt spiritually driven to begin it, adding that he had faith in Bermuda’s support. “When I first identified areas of my own life that I was not happy with I became fixated with finding solutions for the many challenges that Bermuda’s males face,” Mr Bean said at an announcement in the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce. He was flanked by Anglican Bishop of Bermuda Nick Dill, Shadow Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Michael Weeks, Junior Environment Minister Alexis Swan, Women’s Resource Centre head Patrice Frith Hayward and Department of Youth and Sport property manager Jamal Hart, as well as the group’s new volunteer coordinator Sherrie Outerbridge. HOUSE is still negotiating its partnerships with other agencies, Mr Bean said, both Government and private. Asked if he felt optimistic at the charity’s ability to secure funding, Mr Bean said: “To be totally honest, that’s up to Bermuda — the funding has to come from our community. These are our sons and nephews; I stand here as a father, a nephew, a grandson. I can see certain choices in my life that I wish I’d done differently. “I stand in a different place because of that self reflection. Even though I’m not a religious man, I serve.” The family fun day will be held from 10am to 5pm, with music by DJ Siid James, a magic show by Mr Slick, mini golf at a reduced fee of $10 per person, and a bike display by the Bermuda Long Riders Motorcycle Club as well as the Bermuda Classic Bike Club. Added Mr Bean: “HOUSE is off to a great start. We’ve got programmes to launch that will all take funding, so I’m very encouraged by the amount of people who will donate their time to ensure that the HOUSE family fun day will be a great success. “They all want to contribute to help restore our men. I urge everyone, especially men, to bring their families and friends to play a round of mini-golf and enjoy great food and lots of different types of entertainment. Also launched on the day will be our raffle to run until the month of November.”

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.

Details on the rooms:

In addition to the new meeting space, Elbow Beach Resort has five dedicated event rooms – two in the main building, two in a private building in the gardens and one in the Lido restaurant overlooking the sea, that are also available for booking.

Event and meeting facilities include gourmet catering services, multiple outdoor venues [including a private beach], conference and banquet facilities for up to 200 guests and in total with the new space, over 7,400 square feet of versatile event space.

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. The Department of Health wishes to take this opportunity to remind the public that the chikungunya outbreak continues to affect the Caribbean and reiterates the need to reduce mosquitoes locally. Bermuda experienced a record-breaking 14 inches of rainfall in August 2014 which means there are likely to be containers of accumulated rainwater around people's homes, providing breeding sites for mosquitoes, and which need to be checked and emptied out diligently on a weekly basis. " Since last December, the World Health Organization has received reports of the virus on several Caribbean islands, with a total of 9,460 confirmed or probable cases recorded in the region. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, but apart from some who experience longer-term joint pain, patents usually feel better after around a week. Those traveling to the Caribbean are advised to use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants and securing doors or windows while inside to keep mosquitoes out. They are also advised to monitor their health for two weeks after returning and seek medical attention if they begin to suffer fevers, joint pain or rashes. Director of the Department of Health David Kendell added: "Bermuda is not isolated or removed from international outbreaks of disease and we all have a part to play in keeping Bermuda Healthy."

September 25. A former insurance company employee has teamed up with a football charity chief turned bar owner to help propel struggling St George’s back into the Premier League. Larry Perinchief, who worked for BF&M, has opened up Soccer and Friends restaurant above the sports bar of the same name run by Gerald Pascoe in King’s Square. And Mr Perinchief has signed husband-and-wife team Ronald and Judy Williams, formerly of the Black Horse in St David’s, to manage the new venture, with Mr Williams in charge of the kitchen and Ms Williams running front-of-house. He added the restaurant would concentrate on traditional local cuisine — with a special emphasis on seafood. Mr Perinchief — the son of former St George’s Mayor Lois Perinchief — said: “Ronald is well known for his lobster and fish dinners — all that good local stuff. We’ve been doing very well and now that lobster season has started, we’re quite busy.” Mr Perinchief said he had left BF&M and was looking for a new challenge when he was approached about taking over the upstairs area of the former George & Dragon pub on the square. He added: “My mother was a former Mayor of St George’s, the first female Mayor and St George’s was her life. I was in Hamilton most of my working life and I thought this would be a nice memorial for her — her picture hangs in the restaurant. So far, it’s been a very good experience — it’s a learning experience for me, but Judy is the manager and she is excellent. I don’t have to worry about anything and Ronald is well-known for his lobster, fish dinners and conch dinners. I  thought long and hard before committing to opening a business in a recession, especially in a town that has suffered tough times in recent years. But I decided to take this gamble and do it. We do very well with the tourists that come down from Dockyard on the boats and we do very well at lunchtimes — Judy and Ronald have a very good reputation and local following. Even in a recession people were prepared to splash out a bit for top-quality lobster. When lobster season came in, there may be a recession, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a recession when it comes to lobsters. People love their lobster. Recent signs point to a rebirth for St George’s. I think slowly but surely we are on the way back. I understand a cruise ship is in the works for St George’s as well. It isn’t easy, but I think that within the next year or year-and-a-half we will be back. This is a world heritage site and we have to push it more — but I feel the turnaround is coming.” In addition to lobster and fish, Soccer and Friends offers local cuisine with a strong seasonal element. Among the menu staples, at the restaurant, which opened in May, are traditional fish chowder, conch stew and fritters, as well as steak and chicken dishes and delicacies like shark hash when the ingredients are available. Mr Perinchief said: “It wasn’t a quick decision to take this on — but hopefully the future for us and St George’s is bright.”

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. He added: “First, Premier Dunkley doesn’t do “junkets”. Mr DeSilva’s use of that word betrays more about his own government’s approach to ministerial travel than the new reality today. Second, Mr DeSilva’s statement about the Premier’s “refusal to disclose” the cost of the trip is a deliberate falsehood. The Premier has been very clear that all ministerial travel will be made available to the public, starting with the imminent posting on a Cabinet travel website of the cost for this week’s New York trip. Finally, let’s consider the hypocritical shallowness of Mr DeSilva’s opposition to the New York trip. Mr. DeSilva, we recall, was a vigorous defender of PLP Government travel including former Premier Brown’s trip to China, which he said was a trip “to try and build up our relationships with that country.” Right. Premier Dunkley has said he will take every opportunity to promote Bermuda to benefit Bermudians and no amount of misleading criticism from the Opposition will sway those efforts. In conclusion, we want to be clear about one thing: the need and the urgency behind Bermuda’s efforts to restore visitor interest and investor confidence in the Island today is because of the damage done by the previous government.” In his statement earlier this week Mr DeSilva said the public had a right to know why it was necessary for Premier Dunkley, Ministers Grant Gibbons and Shawn Crockwell, and Senator Jeff Baron to travel to New York. He also called for the cost of the trip to be made public. A Government spokeswoman responded: “New York is considered to be the business capital of the world and a critical market for Bermuda’s economy. The public can be assured that the visit was prudent and fiscally managed, with the aim of achieving key national objectives of attracting direct inward investment and showcasing Bermuda as a premier vacation destination. The Premier and Ministers who attended New York were there in key capacities. This resulted in considerable exposure for Bermuda on various levels. As a note, Government is in the process of finalizing a travel website detailing Ministerial travel costs, which can be viewed by the public. The website launch is forthcoming.”

September 27. Police officers from more than 30 countries are arriving on the Island for a conference next week on the prevention of child abuse. About 150 members of Interpol’s Specialist Group on Crimes against Children (ISGCAC) will discuss the latest research and provide an opportunity for officers to share intelligence during the five-day meeting. According to a Bermuda Police Service spokesman, ISGCAC promotes evidence-based practice, public policy and community and law enforcement strategies that lead to the effective prosecution, and management of individuals who have abused or are at risk to abuse children. “By addressing new trends and modus operandi, the ISGCAC’s main object is to keep abreast of the latest developments and propose recommendations for Interpol’s General Assembly to prevent child abuse and exploitation worldwide,” the spokesman said. His Excellency Governor George Fergusson, Premier and National Security Minister Michael Dunkley, Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva and senior Interpol officials will open the conference at the Fairmont Southampton Hotel next Tuesday. Interpol — International Criminal Police Organization — was established in 1923 to forge greater cooperation between police forces around the world.

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.” A spokesman for Yellowfin added: “It’s a good product. No matter what the economy does, people are still going to want to eat and drink. People know our reputation from running Port O’ Call, Pearl and Bistro J. The building came up for lease and at that time we didn’t know what we would do with it. But listening to our customers and what they wanted, it was unanimous that they were crying out for an Indian restaurant in central Hamilton. And we’ve had a full house day and night since we opened six weeks ago.” The spokesman said the firm had plans to expand outside and upstairs into the old Fresco bar and terrace area to increase the number of tables. And he said that 95 percent of patrons at Ruby Murrys were local. "We’ve introduced modern Indian food like tandoori roasted salmon, a spiced, braised lamb shank and tandoori roasted lobster. We are giving people what they’re used to, but trying to introduce new flavours and dishes. It’s traditional with a modern twist. It’s very authentic. And our prices aren’t as high as high-end restaurants — they are affordable. The decor — creams and oranges — was chosen to reflect the menu. The major renovations were in the kitchen area and we’re working on the upstairs bar now — we hope to re-open the bar in a couple of months and it will complement the restaurant. The inside didn’t need much — we freshened up the paint and the colours reflect Indian spices.”

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. Mr Doyle added that, once the site is redeveloped, it would share service like ferry and limousine services with the Newstead/Belmont operation. “I control both properties now, so it will be much easier to hammer out these details.” It is understood that the present Newstead site, which opened in 2008 just as the worldwide recession hit, cost around $70 million to build. Former owner Kevin Petty, who masterminded the redevelopment of Newstead and Belmont between 2001-2008, was in charge when Butterfield Bank put it into receivership. Mr Petty said: “I’m very sad — I’m also realistic and I think Larry Doyle is a decent gentleman who I hope will be able to operate it successfully. It’s a great property and I left my soul there.” He added that the global recession, which started in 2008, saw plummeting occupancy rates. But he said: “I really believe it was the right thing for tourism and for Bermuda. It’s a sad moment for me — my whole life was put into that thing. But, between debt and timing, it really wasn’t to be.”

Newstead 2

September 30. The newly announced purchase of Newstead and Belmont Hills together with the promise of upgrades was praised by MPs today. Minister of Tourism Development and Transport Shawn Crockwell said the purchase of the properties by Larry Doyle was “great news”, while Shadow Tourism Minister Zane DeSilva said the announcement could bring hope to the tourism and construction industries. Mr Doyle, a New York-based businessman, already owns the site of the former Lantana resort near Somerset Bridge. He said on Monday his priority was to get Newstead and Belmont back on track before he tackles ambitious plans for a reborn Lantana. He declined to discuss the price of the twin properties — but it is understood it could be as high as $18 million. In a brief statement, Mr Crockwell said: “This is great news. These are two great properties and will be significant as we continue to revitalize Bermuda tourism.” He applauded plans to both improve the property and “aggressively market” the fractional units already in place, and thanked former owner Kevin Petty for his contributions in developing the sites. “These properties enhanced Bermuda’s tourism product and I am sure that parting with them is difficult for him,” Mr Crockwell said. Mr DeSilva, meanwhile, said: “The announcement of new ownership at Newstead and Belmont Hills Golf Course along with planned upgrades are good news for Bermuda and good news for Bermudians. The proposed upgrades should translate into work for Bermudian construction companies and Bermudian construction workers and that is sure to give a bit of hope to that industry.” The Shadow Minister said that much work must still be done to revitalize the Island’s tourism product. “Ownership that is committed to investing in their product, adding to our stock of tourist beds and modernizing their properties represents the way forward for Bermuda and we look forward to the opportunities that should open up for Bermudians shortly,” he said.

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.”

September 30. Figures from centuries ago will be resurrected in St George’s for a night of Halloween entertainment, offbeat education and fundraising for the Old Town. “Haunted History”, hosted by the St George’s Foundation, will debut on November 1 with ghostly people both famous and obscure brought to life by local actors. The event will include surprise guests, according to Kristin White, development director for the Foundation. “I wanted to bring lesser known people out from the past and tell their stories — we do have ghost stories in St George’s and we may use those, but we want to have real people with real stories,” Ms White said. “There will be characters that you may know and may not. We’re going to capture people from the 1600s right up to the 1800s — people that you may know of from a plaque but wouldn’t have heard the full story.” The World Heritage Centre at Penno’s Wharf will be used for the party, complete with food, drink and live music, as well as historical re-enactments. The funds raised will go toward the management of the Centre, plus the replica of the ship Deliverance. The museum is to acquire new exhibits, while the wooden ship on Ordnance Island is to be developed as a performance platform for youth groups, Ms White said. The Foundation hopes to develop “Haunted History” as a regular yearly event. The night of entertainment will require actors, who will be paid for their work. Performers should contact the Foundation at, or at 297-3686, by October 1. Tickets will go for $125 to Foundation members and $150 for non-members, Ms White said.

October 1. A cyber security firm founded in Bermuda has expanded its operations into Germany. QuoVadis — a global provider of certificate authority identity services for online transactions — has added Germany to existing offices in the UK, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium. QuoVadis CEO Roman Brunner said: “We have seen immense growth in demand over the past two years for cross-border certificates and digital signatures. EU companies are looking for European-based partners, with operations in multiple major markets, as a single source for their public key infrastructure needs. Working in the multinational commercial environment comes naturally to QuoVadis and we see the market demand to expand our presence in Germany and other countries.” The firm has appointed Robert Frank, an expert in the German IT market, as managing director of its new arm. QuoVadis was founded on the Island in 1999 and is the only certificate authority with accreditations in multiple EU jurisdictions to issue qualified digital certificates used in legally-valid online transactions. Mr Brunner said the German office would allow the firm to increase the range of services provided to an already significant client base in the country. Mr Frank said: “I am confident that QuoVadis Trustlink Deutschland GmbH was founded at exactly the right time and right place to offer German companies with highly professional needs and price-oriented public key infrastructure needs and digital signature solutions. Our vision for QuoVadis Germany is quite simple — we want to be the certificate authority and signature provider with the highest customer satisfaction. Security and customer partnership are our top priorities.”

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.” The Minister’s full speech was:  "One of the Government’s main goals is to restore economic health to Bermuda, to create new conditions that enable Bermudians to find work and career opportunities. The Ministry of Home Affairs plays a critical role in achieving that goal. Specifically its mission is to improve the economy by addressing the needs of the local and international business community and the career aspirations of Bermudians. This morning, I would like to review a new Draft Work Permit Policy for Bermuda, which I believe will greatly further our efforts in this regard. The revision was undertaken to keep Bermuda current in an ever-changing, highly competitive world. And it has been developed over the last year through consultation with stakeholders and the community at large. The work was led by the Work Permit Stakeholder Group, which is comprised of representatives from employer and employee groups. Their work will continue as we seek feedback on the draft policy. As Minister I am also continuing this consultative process, having already presented major changes to the Labour Advisory Council, the BIU, the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR) and The Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC). I will be making further presentations this week and next to the Chamber of Commerce, the Bermuda Employer’s Council, the Bermuda Hotel Association and the Bermuda Human Resources Association. These meetings have been extremely helpful to us, as each organization has provided excellent feedback on the proposals. We also look forward to receiving feedback from the public before finalizing this document. People can view the document on the Government website and have until October 17th to send us their views. They can do this by emailing I’d now like to run through some of the principal changes in the draft policy. New categories of work permits are proposed, such as the Bermuda Employment Visa and the Global Entrepreneur Work Permit. A Bermuda Employment Visa (BEV) will make it possible for exempted companies to employ a limited number of foreign nationals without needing to advertise or to apply for a Standard Work Permit. The total number of BEVs issued to an exempted company will be limited to 20 percent of the total Bermuda-based workforce of that exempted company. Companies that wish to participate in obtaining a BEV will need to be accredited. Accreditation will include a process requiring the creation of workplace opportunities for Bermudians in the form of training programs and succession planning. BEVs will essentially replace ten year work permits and can be applied for one to seven years. The new Global Entrepreneur Work Permit has been created to enable individuals who are planning new start-up companies in Bermuda to apply for work permits. This will enable that person to live in Bermuda while conducting their business planning. Other changes proposed in the draft policy include the New Business Permit. These would allow brand new companies to Bermuda to obtain work permits without advertising during the first six months of their existence. If ten or more permits are required, then information will be asked of the new company regarding their growth strategy and how they intend to employ Bermudians. This information will be taken into account when further permits are applied for. Our aim with this policy is to attract companies to relocate to Bermuda. The knock on effect, of course, is more people on the ground, renting homes and apartments, paying taxes, eating in our restaurants and generally contributing to Bermuda’s economic well being. I must reiterate that this will apply to new companies coming to Bermuda with new staff coming, not as a vehicle to shift employees already in Bermuda to a new subsidiary. Other policy changes include the requirement for employers to do the following: They must satisfy 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. They must ensure that all jobs are advertised on the Government Job Board, with their advertisements running for eight consecutive days. They must ensure that where an established graduate training programme or an established exchange internship programme exists, that Bermudians, spouses of Bermudians, and PRC holders are given equal opportunities to participate in related programmes. They 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 currently high numbers of work permit holders. Employers who employ more than five work permit holders may be invited to participate in such initiatives. Other policy changes will require businesses to provide additional information to the Department of Immigration. Restaurants, for example, will need to outline the minimum weekly take-home pay for their workers, and beauty salons will need to include sick and holiday pay information in their contracts of employment. The draft policy also proposes to end the practice of giving refunds to unexpired periods of work permits. This will remove more red-tape at the department and encourage employers to apply for the length of permit they actually require. These new policies will complement the powers already given to the Chief Immigration Officer in terms of levying civil penalties for rogue employers and employees. 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. Bermuda must be seen to be competitive. However, being competitive does not mean selling out on opportunities for Bermudians. By ensuring our Immigration Policies are transparent and fair we aim to attract new business to Bermuda to stimulate continued growth. These policies will make Bermuda more competitive but also go a long way to encouraging employers to train Bermudians and put them on a career path that meets their needs and ambitions. The Department of Immigration is often on the front line and often catches the blame when things go wrong. I wish to make it clear again those complaints are taken seriously, whether anonymous or not. However I must take this opportunity to also say that most employers do want to hire Bermudians. Whilst there are some rogue employers out there, most want qualified Bermudians. It is better for their business planning and growth strategies. I believe that the policy changes will make employers even more responsible and cognizant of their responsibilities to the local work force. The intent is for the new policy to come into effect on December 1st, 2014. As there will be new fees associated with the new work permits, this will require legislative approval, which we plan to Table into the Legislature in November. New work permit application forms will be available online only as will further information on the accreditation process for BEVs. I have given today just a small snapshot of the proposed changes to the policy given the natural time constraints of a press conference. The aim of these policy changes is to help turn around the economy in ways that benefit Bermudians directly and indirectly, to cut red tape, to make the system more user friendly and transparent and to provide new training and career opportunities for Bermudians. Again I invite members of the public to read the policy document so that you are well informed going forward.”

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 2. Elbow Beach is back on track to play a leading role in Bermuda’s hotel industry again. This from the resort’s new boss, Ed Burns, who told The Royal Gazette that his first six months at the helm had seen a major turnaround in fortune and morale at one of Bermuda’s oldest institutions. Mr Burns took the reins on April 1 as Elbow shed the Mandarin brand label and launched as an independent hotel. And the veteran US hotelier says progress has been swift since the changeover, and occupancy figures have already stabilized to last year’s levels. He believes Elbow Beach is now in a great position to target the corporate group market as well as reclaim its place at the top of the Island’s hotel tree. “The decision to go independent was a big risk, but it was also a great opportunity.  We have taken certain areas of the building that were not operational and made them operational. We inherited a subdued team of employees; it had been a very difficult transition for the employees to go through to see the hotel partially closed. We have recharged these people and tried to provide optimism and hope for the future. There has been substantial landscaping done throughout the property and we have re- established a lobby bar for our guests. We created a personal assistance programme to give our guests a more personal service and we have gone back to relying on the charm of the Bermudian people and the cultural make-up of the Island. We are committed to the Bermudian product; our employees need to be and should be Bermudian, and they are. The second phase is the old guest rooms; we will look at the possibility of opening them again or replacing them, but nothing has been finalized. To have this part of the building offline hurts us in the market place and once we get confident we can potentially reoccupy that area.” Mr Burns and his team have targeted the US and Canada through a very direct sales drive to boost occupancy, and this will expand to the UK in the coming weeks. Meanwhile the hotel is set to launch a new drive to attract convention and corporate group visitors. “By August we had stabilized to last year’s level of occupancy and we have maintained that,” Mr Burns said. “Given what we have changed and the work that has gone on that is a good result. We are now planning to aggressively go back into the group marketplace. We have 98 rooms and we are adding 9,000 square feet of meeting facilities that we believe will make us the best venue for this kind of visitor. We want to bring in 35 percent new occupancy through group business next year. While in the leisure sector we will be making a more dedicated and powerful effort with our direct sales through travel agencies. We have had significant repeat business in just the last six months which is encouraging. We now have a very high level of service and morale is high. The new approach has really worked. We have come a long way already in terms of how we manage ourselves and this is beginning to show on TripAdvisor. We are back on track to where this great hotel used to be. I believe we will climb to the top of the market and we will dominate for a very long time to come, and this will help Bermuda.” The new Elbow Beach boss said he believed casinos could also help to rejuvenate the tourism industry by providing another amenity to visitors. But he urged caution, saying that the implementation process had to be very well thought out and carefully managed. “I believe we can grow the economy substantially through simply marketing Bermuda better as an amazing destination,” Mr Burns said. “Casinos can have a place in Bermuda, but it is a very difficult thing to manage.”

October 2. A Bermuda-based firm aims to relocate to Mauritius. Delta International Property Holdings will today ask shareholders to approve a move to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. The move comes as the firm — formerly Osiris Property International — has been based in Bermuda since 2012 and changed to its present name this year. A spokesman for the firm said the change of location was due to the firm’s decision to invest heavily in African real estate. Mauritius, a former British colony in the Indian Ocean with a population of 1.25 million, is around 1,200 miles off the southeastern coast of the continent. The spokesman said: “Given that the company intends a substantial investment into Africa, it has been suggested that it would be in the best interests of the company and its investors if the company were discontinued as a Bermuda exempt company and continue instead as a global business company in Mauritius, to take advantage of the experience of Mauritian service providers in doing business in Africa, the geographical and time zone proximity of Mauritius to Africa, as well as the many double taxation treaties negotiated between Mauritius and various African jurisdictions in which the company intends to invest.” The firm is also planning to delist its securities from the Bermuda Stock Exchange and list on its Mauritius equivalent instead. The Delta spokesman added: “The directors of the company envisage that a listing on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius will provide access to a global base of managed funds, high net worth individuals and other sources of capital who view Mauritius as an attractive destination.” The change of location would also mean that Bermuda-based directors James Keyes and David Brown would resign as directors of the company.

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. At that time, he told The Royal Gazette: “I love to interact with children because they are so appreciative and curious.” Friend and fellow artist Peter Woolcock yesterday called Mr Cooke " a great guy and a kindred spirit. We met through our wives doing Meals On Wheels together and comparing notes as to what their husbands did for a living, and we were kindred spirits ever since. During his trips to Europe with his devoted Onalee, we’d get beautiful, detailed pen and ink sketches of various places, always with a touch of humor. He was a mean pianist. I have his CD TC Plays Ragtime, where his rendition of Joplin’s The Entertainer is the equal of any professional. He was a keen member of ‘The Helmsmen’, a men’s glee club, and I am a proud owner of one of their CDs. His stroke paralyzed his left side, allowing him to continue drawing but with a new style, with bright colour and a charming Graham Foster-ish approach to perspective. The card production continued to the end. Tom loved to laugh, and I can still hear his impetuous bursts of delight at some craziness.” Masterworks founder and creative director Tom Butterfield said Mr Cooke was a positive guy and a pleasure to work with. “Once he was introduced to us, it was quite obvious that he was someone we wanted to work with. We do have one of his works in our collection, which is terrific.” He is survived by his wife, sons Scott and Todd, and grandchildren Cameron, Christopher, Kaitlyn and Kelsey.

Tom Cooke

The late Tom Cooke

October 4. Royal Gazette editorial. There have been hopeful signs of late that Bermuda’s long identity crisis as a tourism destination may finally be approaching some kind of successful resolution. After 30 years of increasingly desperate Tourism Ministry attempts to market Bermuda as anything other than what it is, the newly constituted Tourism Authority has taken a welcome back-to-basics approach with its salesmanship. Here’s small but not insignificant by-way-of-example illustration: A short promotional video was uploaded to social media this week by the Tourism Authority. Entitled What I Love About Bermuda, it distils into two eye-catching minutes the chief appeals the Island has always held for world-weary vacationers: namely, its people, its people and its people. The film, seen and shared by thousands of viewers around the globe since it was posted, summarizes the inexhaustibly welcoming nature of Bermudians in a rapid-fire series of vignettes of local faces and places. It’s true Bermuda’s beaches are among the genuine wonders of the natural world. And other natural and man-made amenities, along with a richly diverse cultural heritage and temperate climate, have certainly all contributed to the allure of Bermuda. They help to make the Island a destination where, as pioneering visitor Mark Twain observed more than a century ago, a “jaded man can loaf … (and feel) the deep peace and quiet of the country sink into one’s body and bones.” But the shrewd and observant Twain, with his journalist’s eye for the telling detail and his unrivalled understanding of human nature, was also among the first to recognize it was “our friends the Bermudians” who were the real wellspring from which all of the Island’s other enticements flowed. The charm and friendliness of Bermudians were among our chief assets when the Island developed an internationally celebrated resort tourism industry following the First World War. We proved ourselves to be among the most gracious natural hosts in the world as we built an industry which could not have been better suited to either our temperament or our unhurried way of life. Affluent visitors came back again and again. This was due, in no small part, to the fact Bermudians treated them as guests in their island home, not customers. One historian of the industry has noted: “For many years all our regular visitors were known by name in the hotels and restaurants — and most of them even in the shops. The taxi drivers and carriage drivers knew them. So did many of the customs officers at the airport and on the docks. They were regarded as very, very important people. And of course to us they were indeed very, very important.” The reality is those who came to helm the Tourism Ministry in the post-1980s era, career civil servants for the most part with almost no individual or collective private sector experience, had very little idea of how a tourism economy worked let alone the knowledge of how to manage one. They never considered the need to make our visitors feel cherished and appreciated when they came to Bermuda because they had never been aware of the need to do so. And they certainly never recognised the value of individual Bermudians in the overall Bermuda tourism experience. Instead of concentrating on people, both in terms of our visitors and the locals who made their stays here so memorable, they focused on advertising and promotional campaigns which grew increasingly detached from reality. Instead of attempting to protect and enhance the quality of a Bermuda holiday, they began counting heads: cruise ship arrival figures were used to try and camouflage an ominous, ongoing decline in air arrivals — the very visitors who stayed longer, spent more and left the Island wanting to return. The Tourism Authority’s recognition that “our friends the Bermudians” are in fact an integral part of the product they are attempting to sell in an increasingly crowded global marketplace full of almost indistinguishable destinations will not in and of itself revive an industry which very nearly died due to neglect. But it is at least a thought in the right direction.

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. The deal adds to its holdings of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and three other resorts, including the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, which the Bermuda-based company acquired in 2011. Gambling properties have attracted opportunistic investors in the wake of the financial crisis. In May, Blackstone Group LP agreed to buy the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel and casino for $1.73 billion from Deutsche Bank AG, which sought to end its money-losing foray into casino development. Casino revenue in Atlantic City fell more than 40 percent to about $2.8 billion in 2013 from a peak of more than $5 billion in 2006. Battered by gaming competition in nearby states, Atlantic City has seen Trump Plaza, Caesars Entertainment Corp’s Showboat, Revel and the Atlantic Club close this year. Trump Taj Mahal may shut in November, leaving the resort city with seven casinos. “Under the circumstances, the auction produced the best result possible,” said Michael D Sirota, a lawyer for Revel’s unsecured creditors. Brookfield hasn’t “shared with us their plans,” he said in a phone interview. Built at a cost of $2.4 billion, Revel was envisioned as a resort first and a casino second. Struggling financially after its April 2012 opening, Revel introduced a “Gamblers Wanted” marketing campaign last year. Its parent company, Revel AC Inc, filed for bankruptcy twice, and the resort ceased operations on September 2. When it opened, Revel was the first new casino in Atlantic City since 2003. “Revel is a brand-new trophy asset on the beachfront, which we are acquiring at a substantial discount to replacement cost,” Coley said. “We are excited about owning the newest and highest-quality asset in Atlantic City at such an attractive basis.” Revel said it plans to seek approval of the sale at an October 7 hearing in US Bankruptcy Court in Camden, New Jersey. Florida real estate developer Glenn Straub, who was outbid by Brookfield, said in a phone interview that he plans to challenge the sale at the hearing. Straub was asked last night to make a counter bid at about 11.30pm after Brookfield increased its offer to $110 million from $98 million with the condition it be accepted by 6am. Though Straub said he could have bid as much as $135 million, he didn’t have enough time to put together a new offer. “In the night-time we couldn’t get a hold of the whole fleet of people that worked on this bid,” Straub said. “We were willing to go ahead to rebid. We said we needed four more hours to do it. There was no reason to break and to award them the business. Revel would have liked to have received a $135 million bid, but we didn’t get one from Mr. Straub,” John K. Cunningham, a Revel attorney, said in a phone interview. “We gave Mr. Straub every opportunity to make another bid, we stayed up all night and we didn’t receive any,” he added. He said Straub told them he wouldn’t be able to make a counter-offer until October 6. Brookfield “made an offer we couldn’t refuse” and couldn’t risk it to find out later that Straub wasn’t willing to pay more and revert to Brookfield’s $98 million bid, he said. The auction was run within the court approved procedures and all of Straub’s claims are “baseless,” Cunningham said. “All he is, is a disgruntled losing bidder.” Brookfield Property was spun off last year from Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Canada’s largest manager of alternative assets, to pursue purchases beyond its traditional focus on office and retail real estate. Since the spin-off, Brookfield Property has expanded in rental housing and acquired Thayer Lodging Group, US industrial real estate, European distribution facilities and office and hotel assets in Australia. Brookfield Asset Management took advantage of the credit crisis to accumulate a stake in the once-bankrupt General Growth Properties Inc., the second-largest US shopping mall landlord. In 2013, the company raised $4.4 billion to buy commercial real estate around the world. The new fund, Brookfield Strategic Real Estate Partners, aims to make opportunistic investments in North America, Europe, Brazil and Australia. The bankruptcy is In re Revel AC Inc., 14-bk-22654, US. Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey (Camden).

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. Of particular concern in the Bermudian context is that with mounting job losses and stagnating wages, the Bermudians who can least afford it will be forced to pay more for the OBA's pre-certification scheme, through increased government expenses, increased expenses for insurance companies and increased expenses for medical practitioners. The "death by delay" system would target services offered by the Brown-Darrell Clinic, operated by former PLP Premier Ewart Brown. In some instances, Bermuda Healthcare Services (BHCS) and Brown-Darrell are the only providers of the diagnostic tests outside the hospital. In their apparent haste to target the business of a former PLP leader and Premier of Bermuda, the OBA have attacked the entire medical fraternity and put patients potentially at risk. The OBA must drop this ill thought out scheme and embrace a true consultative approach with the stakeholders that approaches healthcare cost containment in an holistic manner, that will not compromise patient safety or compromise service delivery." Last month, Government announced it was putting out a Request for Information (RFI) seeking health experts to create a pre-certification system for medical testing. According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment, it was looking for "information and creative ideas for solutions to implement, manage and operate a system to provide pre-certification of diagnostic medical testing for Bermuda's healthcare system." The statement said pre-certification is intended for select medical imaging procedures, specific clinical laboratory test orders and orders with a cumulative value above $300. Orders by specialists and diagnostic testing for emergencies would not have to be pre-certified but self-referrals would be subject to pre-certification. The statement quickly came under fire by both the Opposition and the BMDA, who expressed concerns that such an initiative would lead to delays in medical treatment and suggested other strategies be taken to tackle the high cost of healthcare.

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.” PALS volunteer Patricia Purvey thought that fire was exactly what was needed for the cancer charity’s fundraiser. The pair met at a party in Lagoa, held in honour of Mrs Purvey and her husband Sidney. “We don’t often have Bermudians coming through town,” Ms Steede said. “Mrs Purvey was on the other side of the room and my husband and I were sitting on a couch. I told him we ought to offer to perform for PALS in Bermuda. When she came over, I said that to her, and she said, ‘That’s funny. I was coming over here to ask you just that’.” Ms Steede said she has never had cancer herself, but family members have died because of the disease. “That is one of the reasons I was happy to help,” she said. “I think cancer is horrendous. I have done several similar performances for the oncology department of several hospitals [in Lagoa].” Ms Steede’s parents didn’t have the money for singing and acting classes when she was growing up. “Everything I have ever done has come off the top of my head,” she said. “It is my gift and it has worked really well.” She said she usually sounds “like Barbara Streisand”, but switched gears a bit for Love Is. It had a very different sound for me. Normally, I have this theatrical kind of big sound, but I wanted to do this one very quietly, to see how it worked for me. I didn’t like it very much. It is quite a beautiful album because of the music that I chose, it’s just not me.” Pinky, the working title of her autobiography, is being published through Memoirs, an offshoot of Amazon Books. She expects it will be available for sale early next year. “I am over the moon about it because it is something that has been floating in my head for a long time,” she said. A Gala Evening with Pinky will be held at the Fairmont Southampton on October 18. Steel pan Artist Robert Symons will also perform and comedian Bruce Barritt will serve as emcee. Tickets are $275.

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.

The Premier wrote: “To ensure that assumptions do not contribute to confusion on the matter of public service reform, there will be open, active and ongoing consultation with the unions and public officers. Whilst two-way communication is vitally important, it is imperative that public officers refrain from circulating misinformation as we navigate through this process. It is more important than ever that we remain focused on delivering public services with the utmost professionalism as we navigate public service reform." The proposed Public Bodies Reform Bill was tabled “for information only” in Parliament in July and members of the public had until August 29 to submit feedback. The policy paper from the BPSU says Bermuda Trade Union Congress sent a letter to the Premier in August indicating “grave concerns” with the bill but had not received a reply to the questions it posed. It states: “The BPSU finds the whole exercise of public service reform to be a façade. The Act states: ‘the objective of the Authority shall be to review, evaluate and analyze the operations of public authorities to determine the best structure for streamlining public authorities to achieve the most efficient and cost-effective organizational structure and governing process for the delivery of public services. This is the exact same exercise tasked to the SAGE Commission. The BPSU are of the opinion that the establishment of the SAGE Commission and the Efficiency and Reform Authority is less about true reform of the public service but designed to carry out the Government’s principal methodology of reform: privatization. The BPSU believes that the Civil Service executive, which includes the Cabinet Secretary, Head of Civil Service, Financial Secretary and Permanent Secretaries possess the knowledge and skill sets to drive true reform in the public service. The BPSU does not support reform being driven by the private sector in the form of a SAGE Commission or Efficiency and Reform Authority. Politicians in Bermuda generally believe that senior civil servants are limited or incapable to implement policies in a timely and cost efficient manner and question if the expertise is within the service to deliver Government policies. The bill gives the Authority “sweeping and almost unlimited powers in relation to privatizing government services and changing the functions of other organizations receiving Government funding. It is evident that the Government is forcefully driving its agenda of neo-liberalism, an agenda that can be described as shifting control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector.” In a separate policy paper released yesterday, the BPSU opposed a plan for mutualisation from Finance Minister Bob Richards, claiming he either “deliberately tried to mislead the public on the success” of such civil service pension schemes in the UK or “was misinformed on the true reality.” It questioned who was driving the agenda on mutualisation and asked: “Where is the evidence to support the Minister of Finance’s claims that mutuals will lead to a more user friendly, innovative, efficient and economical service?” Last December, Mr Richards described mutualisation as a “process by which a service that is currently provided by the public sector is spun off into a separate entity, but the staff employed by Government providing the service move over to the new entity, not only as employees, but as shareholders of the new entity with representation on the board”. The BPSU’s report states: “We are concerned that the Government may attempt to pass off mutualisation as something beneficial when, in fact, that may not be the case. The BPSU believes that there is no reason to believe that mutualisation is necessary to achieve a service that is more user-friendly, innovative, efficient and economical. These are all qualities that could be built into and should be a part of the day-to-day work of public service provision.” The Royal Gazette asked the Department of Communication and Information for comment from the Premier and Finance Minister yesterday but received no response by press time. The Opposition was also asked to provide comment but did not.

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. Meanwhile, little or no sport was played in Bermuda at the weekend after Tropical Storm Fay lashed the Island with heavy rain and gusting winds, forcing the cancellation of a host of events. Premier and First Division football and Karting at Southside fell foul of the bad weather that started almost immediately as soon as Flanagan’s Onions’ match against Somerset Trojans kicked off at Goose Gosling Field on Saturday night. The pouring rain rendered it almost impossible for either side to play much in the way of free-flowing football, although Onions — who were looking to pick up their first point of the season — were arguably edging matters before Anthony Francis, the referee, abandoned the game at half-time. It is understood that officials at BAA, the landlords of the Woodland Road facility, had expressed concerns to the match officials about the game continuing as the rain continued to tumble during the half-time interval. With large pools of rain collecting around the artificial pitch, it was deemed in the best interests of protecting the expensive synthetic surface to call off the game, which will now be rearranged by the Bermuda Football Association. The other three top-flight matches were called off by the BFA yesterday morning, as were the four First Division games.

October 13. (Bloomberg) — Billionaire John Fredriksen proposed to merge the two dry-bulk shippers he controls, Golden Ocean Group Ltd and Knightsbridge Shipping Ltd, as he positions himself for consolidation and a market recovery. Golden Ocean shareholders will receive 0.13749 of a share in Knightsbridge, which will issue 61.5 million shares, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based companies said. Fredriksen’s Hemen Holding Ltd will, with affiliates, control about 39 per cent of the combined company after the deal. “With the current weakness in the dry bulk market, we believe there will be attractive consolidation opportunities going forward,” Fredriksen and Ola Lorentzon, chairman and chief executive officer of Knightsbridge, said in a statement. “Upon an expected recovery of the dry bulk market and as newbuilds are brought into the fleet, we believe the combined company will generate significant cash flow.” Fredriksen’s transaction will form one of the biggest dry-bulk shippers with 72 vessels, of which 36 are under construction, in a market suffering from oversupply since the financial crisis in 2008. The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks shipping rates for dry cargo, has fallen about 90 per cent since a peak in June, 2008. According to Platou Markets analyst Herman Hildan the deal values Golden Ocean at 6.99 kroner a share, a 9.4 per cent premium to yesterday’s closing price. This gives a merger valuation for Golden Ocean of $483 million, 11 per cent below its net asset value of $545 million based on recent broker quotes, he said. Golden Ocean rose 6.2 per cent to 6.785 kroner as of 10.12 am in Oslo. With “low cash break-even” on the Knightsbridge fleet “and significant investment capacity from the Golden Ocean balance sheet we expect the company to take advantage of weakness in the market ahead and grow aggressively,” Hildan said. “This however, does not change market fundamentals.” The combined company will be run by Golden Ocean CEO Herman Billung. The merger is subject to the approval of 75 per cent of shareholders at Golden Ocean and Knightsbridge in general meetings to be held in December and January, respectively. Golden Ocean has a market capitalization of about 2.9 billion kroner ($450 million), while Knightsbridge is valued at $386 million. Knightsbridge will be the surviving legal entity and will be renamed Golden Ocean Group Ltd. It will apply for a secondary listing on the Oslo stock exchange.

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 and, where consumers can shop for insurance.

October 15. RG Editorial. Just last week Bermuda was patting itself on the back as the end of what had been forecast to be a slower-than-normal hurricane season approached. Once again it looked as if we might run the annual June-November gauntlet without experiencing the wrath of Mother Nature in the calamitous form of a tropical cyclone. Then Tropical Storm Fay abruptly crashed our party. With maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour and hurricane-force gusts of up to 120 miles per hour, Fay managed to black out fully half of the Island, tear the roofs of houses and down trees and utility poles when it passed over Bermuda early on Sunday morning. Now, before Bermuda has even finished clearing up from the unexpectedly severe hammering Fay administered, Hurricane Gonzalo is bearing down on us. It may well have grown into a monster Category 4 storm by the time it approaches Bermuda on Friday morning packing sustained winds of between 130 and 156 miles per hour with even stronger gusts. Category 4 is the second-highest classification category on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It has been 11 years since a major hurricane one of Category 3 strength or higher made a direct hit on Bermuda. And 2003s Hurricane Fabian proved to be the most destructive storm in our history, causing an estimated $300 million in damage. There were four deaths as a result of Fabian, the first storm casualties here since the 1926 Havana-Bermuda storm drowned almost 100 seamen. The last storm of any consequence to pass directly over Bermuda prior to Fabian was Hurricane Emily in 1987. And Emily, by way of comparison, was a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of between just 74 and 95 miles per hour. Still, Emily left a $50 million swath of devastation in her path. More than 200 homes and commercial buildings lost their roofs, including the airport. Cars were flipped and boats were tossed up onto roads by incessant, hammer-blow waves. A cruise ship slipped its moorings: cast-iron bollards tethering the Atlantic to Front Street were ripped out of the concrete and the vessel was blown halfway towards Foot of the Lane before the engines were engaged and a likely grounding in the shallows narrowly avoided. Bermuda residents had gone to bed the night before Emily struck unprepared for impending disaster. Emily had lost strength the previous day as it moved over the open waters of the Atlantic and forecasters had confidently predicted the system would deteriorate into a tropical storm by the time it arrived in our area. Instead, what took place defied our knowledge and the concept of meteorology said the US National Hurricane Center in the aftermath of Bermudas bruising experience with a resurgent Emily. The storm gained strength even as it picked up forward speed, with winds increasing from 70 to 80 miles per hour as it raced toward Bermuda from the Caribbean. A high-pressure front along the US East Coast of the United States was blamed for the hurricane's abrupt intensification. "There are certain limitations of our forecasting ability," said the Hurricane Center. "There are things we cannot forecast. This is a perfect example of our limitations." Bermuda's unexpected experience with Emily confirmed the fact that the only thing genuinely predictable about tropical storms is their unpredictability. With thousands of residents still powerless as a result of Fay, the timing of Gonzalo's arrival could not be worse. Belco has already been in contact with CARILEC, the organization of Caribbean electric utility companies, about bringing in additional crews to assist with anticipated additional restoration work in the storm's aftermath. Bermuda residents need to follow the utility's lead. A lack of awareness and preparation can have deadly consequences when a tropical storm is threatening the Island. And Gonzalo is far from your average storm. As a matter of urgency residents need to buy essential hurricane supplies such as candles, batteries, and non-perishable foods, to fill bathtubs and extra containers with water, and ensure their cars and motorcycles have full gas tanks. Those with storm shutters or plywood coverings need to dig them out of the garage now and ensure they are secured. They also need to remember threats posed by hurricanes take many forms storm surge, heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, tornadoes and vicious rip currents. We were caught off guard by the intense, hurricane-force gusts Fay brought to the Island. There's no excuse for not being ready for the potential pounding we might receive from Gonzalo. Lives could depend on being properly prepared. In a bittersweet historical irony Gonzalo takes its name from a character in William Shakespeare's Tempest, a play inspired in part by the great 1609 hurricane which led to the accidental settlement of Bermuda by survivors of the Sea Venture wreck. That drama, of course, used the term still-vexed Bermoothes to describe the boiling, wind-whipped seas around the Island encountered by that Virginia-bound party. Four hundred years later, this vivid metaphor has lost none of its power or applicability. Those who have experienced such storms can vouch for the unrestrained fury of a hurricane; those who have not should ready themselves as best they can.

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.” Andrew Mackay, general manager at hardware store Gorham’s said he was aware of a shortage of roof slate. “We’ve had a lot of people calling us looking for slate, but unfortunately we don’t have a supplier for that. The store had been packed in advance of the storm — and busy since it reopened on Monday morning. We got emergency supplies in on Sunday. We’re selling generators and clean-up materials like rakes. Bleach and other cleaning supplies were also flying off the shelves, along with trash bags and tarpaulins. For building materials companies and ourselves business has been very brisk. The storms have definitely been a boost for sales, but the Island fared very well, considering.” Retail activity has quietened some ten days after the busy tropical weather period which led to skyrocketing demand for consumer items associated with hurricane preparedness. From battery operated radios to tuna fish, retailers reported shoppers flocking into their stores seeking these products. Giorgio Zanol, president of the Lindo’s Group called last Thursday, October 16 “the busiest day we have ever had” with a massive surge in demand for water and batteries. “We had enough supply for that demand,” he said. Mr Zanol, whose supermarket group runs Lindo’s Market and Pharmacy in Devonshire, and Lindo’s Family Foods in Warwick said: “We didn’t run out of anything. Tuna fish, corned beef — we sold a lot of non-perishable items,” he said. “And people were buying ice even though they didn’t know whether or not they would lose electricity.” He said while TS Fay had caught everyone by surprise, the Lindo’s Group were able to prepare for Hurricane Gonzalo and had enough stock on the shelves. Mr Zanol said their shops opened on Saturday morning after the storm and offered hot breakfast. “People who had lost their power were grateful for that,” he said. While there was little demand for perishable items: “People came in for milk for their children, that sort of thing — we tried to take care of people,” he said. “Monday was busier than usual and so was Tuesday, but not crazy. The interior of the Devonshire store was unscathed although the building had sustained minor roof damage. “But nothing serious. We’re grateful — it could have been a lot worse. We’re not complaining.” Both stores lost power during the storm, but both also have massive generators which kick in within ten seconds of a power loss. “The same power that Belco gives us, we get from the generator. We had no problems with refrigeration, the freezers, or anything.” At People’s Pharmacy, retail coordinator Rochelle Todd also reported a full shop on Thursday. “It was busy on Thursday night — crazy,” she said. Batteries were “selling off the hook”, while flashlights were another big seller, and the store was able to meet that demand. “We had a lot of flashlights in stock, and we have some left over,” she said. Ms Todd noted that several customers asked for battery-operated radios. “There was a big demand,” she said — though radios were one item not in stock at the store. “Radios, batteries were mostly (the items) in demand. And candles as well — we still have a few left,” she said. Even though the pharmacy suffered some water damage during Hurricane Gonzalo, it opened in the aftermath. “We were open on Saturday afternoon between 3pm and 7.30pm in case anyone needed their medication,” she said. Wholesale operations also experienced a significant increase in business. Bermuda General Agency’s chief executive officer John Tomlimson said: “There was a heavy demand from retailers that we were able to meet. We had stocked up ahead of time. You get ridiculous peaks of sales that come on these occasions — they are an aberration rather than a trend. Flash lights, batteries, Clorox — these are the main products that retailers want.” He said more supplies are arriving this week.

October 22. Lawyer Georgia Marshall has been unveiled as the One Bermuda Alliance’s candidate in the by-election for Sandys South. A leading specialist in matrimonial and family law and a director at law firm Marshall Diel and Myers, the long-term resident of the area and mother of two is a “newcomer” to politics. “For the past 28 years I have lived and raised my family in Sandys,” she said. “This is my home and has been the home of my extended family for four generations. I don’t come from a background of privilege or wealth, I come from humble beginnings. My parents didn’t have the benefit of education. They were factory workers and for all of my childhood they had second jobs — they knew the value of hard work and the value of education and gave me the benefit of education. Some of you know me as a matrimonial attorney, I’ve practised for 25 years. Throughout that time I’ve heard the struggles of families, more so in the recent past than any time before that, and I’ve worked hard to solve the problems of families. I hope to put the skills I’ve learnt to use to help move Bermuda forward.” The OBA announced Mrs Marshall would stand for them this morning at Somerset Bridge, with party chairwoman Lynne Woolridge, Premier Michael Dunkley, Senator Jeff Baron and MP Glen Smith on hand to welcome her to the party fold. Her husband, Timothy, also a lawyer, was also present. Mrs Marshall admitted she was a “newcomer” to politics, with no previous affiliation to any party, but said she wanted to step up to try to help “improve the lives of all Bermudians.” She also told how she was “delighted to be the newest member of the OBA, the only party of diversity and inclusion. I’m asking the people of Sandys South to exercise your vote wisely to usher in change to Sandys South and a breath of fresh air.  I’ve never been politically motivated but I see the challenges and feel more people like me who have skills need to be influencing policy and voicing the concerns of constituents.” Mrs Marshall said she was not concerned about her political debut being in Sandys South, traditionally a Progressive Labour Party stronghold. The seat was held by retiring Independent MP Terry Lister, who won it as a PLP candidate in 1998. “I don’t think there’s any safe constituency,” Mrs Marshall said. “Everybody in Bermuda has power when they exercise their vote wisely. I’ve confidence that the people of Sandys South will be very careful in their decision-making, as well as all Bermudians. When I do succeed at the polls my primary focus will be Sandys South. We have a lot of work to do.” Mrs Marshall said repair work to Somerset Bridge and the public wharf were among her priorities. She also wants to help to improve the public school system. She said she had already been meeting with constituents and the same concerns were repeated “over and over again” — such as the public dock at Ely’s Harbour and garbage piling up — and that she intended to work with the community to get things done, and encourage them to get involved. “I’ll call on them to come out to help us clean that mess. I hope to be a galvanizing force. I will work hard for your vote and will continue to work hard for those I will represent to keep the vote. I intend to work hard for constituency 33.” Premier Dunkley made a special plea to the people of Sandys South.  “You’ve had a very qualified lady step forward to get into the political realm. If you want to continue to get on to the road to recovery, we need to have more people stand forward and serve. Georgia Marshall lives in this area. We want people who are connected and clearly Georgia is. Based on her career and certainly with the success she’s had, that can equate into success at the poll and success for the people of Sandys South.” The Progressive Labour Party is due to unveil its candidate tomorrow morning at Somers Isles Lodge. The by-election will be held on November 18.

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

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. Alison Hill, chief executive officer of the Argus Group, estimated the total Island-wide bill for Fay and Gonzalo would be between $100 million and $125 million. She said: "We are proud of the community for taking storm preparation seriously and know that the extent of damages could have been much worse without everyone's diligence. Still, Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo left many residents with significant damages to their property. Everyone has experienced a stressful few weeks with Tropical Storm Fay followed closely by Hurricane Gonzalo. Our community has suffered damages to homes, power losses, transportation shortages and disruptions to daily routine. In an attempt to ease the financial burden on our residential clients, we have decided to consider Fay and Gonzalo as one event, which will mean only one deductible will apply for damages sustained to residential properties from these storms. We hope this policy will allow our residential clients to focus on repair work and more quickly recover from these back-to-back natural disasters." Mr Wight added that BF & M staff had coped well with the flood of claims following the double whammy of Fay and Gonzalo. "It's going according to plan. We had a large influx of claims following the hurricane, but the last couple of days claims have tapered off and we expect any more claims coming in to be few in number. BF & M had been open on Saturday, the day after Gonzalo, and that staff had been working overtime to deal with claims. They're having the weekend off and spending time with their families, which they should be doing at this point." AIR's estimate included damage to onshore property and the cost of business interruption, but not damage to boats, many of which were damaged or sunk as Gonzalo swept across the Island. AIR added that the cost of Fabian-related losses, which it set at around $300 million, would be $650 million at today's prices and exposures.

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:

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.  It added the Operator has failed to maintain the physical and operational standards applicable to the full service luxury hotels comparable to the hotel. And it said the sales and marketing programmes have failed to meet the standard, spending has been above market and owner has not achieved a reasonable return on its investment. Moreover, the operator has failed to provide sufficient information and analyses to substantiate any return on the substantial spend by owner for sales and marketing activities and in particular from the corporate sales and marketing office. The April letter, which gave ten days notice of termination, alleged that Fairmont had failed for a significant period to maintain rate parity across third party websites and allowed publication of rates that were sometimes lower than those shown on the Fairmont websites, which has resulted in rates that are below market for the hotel, below market in relation to operator's other property on Bermuda and below market rates during peak season. These issues have been repeatedly raised with the operator over a an extended period and have not been remedied. In fact, such information has been utilized by operator to advantage its other property on Bermuda to the detriment of the hotel, which is also a breach of confidentiality provision ... of the hotel of the hotel management agreement. And the letter said when the topic of room rates at the hotel has been addressed, operator has utilized such discussions to similarly address rates at the Southampton Princess to the benefit of that competing hotel owned by operator and to the detriment of the Hamilton Princess. The letter added there has been an excessive turnover in the executive staff including the financial controller, sales and marketing director, revenue management, human resources director and the executive chef. These problems have been compounded by the operator's general lack of cooperation and the obstructive behaviour, which prevented correcting these well-documented deficiencies. And the letter said that a lack of staff training meant that the hotel was below the required standard, which had a detrimental impact on revenue production and guest satisfaction at the hotel. It added that given that the regional training manager for Bermuda is located at the Southampton Princess, the owner expected far more interaction by the operator to ensure improvement in service and quality. And the termination letter said there had been failure to address problems raised in JD Power surveys in which the hotel was consistently ranked in the bottom quartile among other North American Fairmont hotels. And it also cited lack of oversight regarding the property's maintenance and cleanliness. But Fairmont, in documents lodged with the New York court, denied the claims. Their lawyers said: "Pursuant to the agreements, operator and advisor have been providing owner with the considerable benefit of their expertise in connection with the day-to-day operation and management of the hotel and the use of their proprietary materials, such as trademarks, software applications, operational manuals, corporate records, surveys and business and marketing plans. Operator and advisor vigorously dispute that there has been any material default, dispute that any such defaults are not curable and dispute that the owner has the present right to terminate the agreements, let alone on ten days notice."

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 4. Bermuda’s food, culture and heritage are high on the agenda for tourism attractions over the winter months. The Bermuda Tourism Authority presented its Uncovering the Arts schedule at Fort Hamilton yesterday before members of the arts and tourism community. Bermuda’s cuisine will be one of the main focuses of the drive including a beefed up Restaurant Week that highlights local cuisine, a new tour of Honey Bee House, Hamilton, and extra food festivals throughout the season. The line-up of events runs from November through March, typically the quietest season for tourism. Patricia Phillip-Fairn, the BTA’s chief product and experience development officer, said: “Food is one of the biggest pushes this year; food culture in Bermuda is going to be a big hook in our revamped season. Restaurant Week has been revamped and we have 40 restaurants signed up, which is more than last year. “Through food, we want to demonstrate the influences from the Caribbean and also though the entertainment and culture. We are looking to make the Bermuda fish sandwich iconic and we are also looking to make the fish fry something that is featured more prominently. When we are talking about Bermuda food culture, it’s not just about the cuisine itself, it’s about the culture around it. For Christmas, we are talking about the cassava pie and the other traditions around food at different times of the year, throughout the season.” Bermuda ambassador and well-known storyteller Ruth Thomas is on board for this year’s line-up of cultural and historical events. She will be giving talks on the Island’s history, folklore and traditions at the Bermuda National Gallery. She told The Royal Gazette: “It’s a way of getting visitors to know more than what they see — the real Bermuda. Our culture doesn’t hit you like some of the other destinations where, the minute you set foot on the ground, you can smell the culture, you can see it, you can hear it. Ours is more manicured and laid-back, but once you get into a taxi or on a bus, you see how people greet one another. Even the way we catch our water; visitors are fascinated about things like that. I am often asked about our health provisions, education system and parliamentary system. These are things they wouldn’t usually see.” Ms Thomas will also be giving lectures at Pier Six about the tradition of gombey dancing, which will be accompanied by gombey performances. Speaking of the lectures, which used to be presented by the late Louise Jackson MBE, Ms Thomas said: “It provides an opportunity for our visitors not only to see the performances but also to learn about the tradition. It enriches what they see and they know the meaning of the dance.” Eco-tourism was also mentioned during the BTA’s announcement, with a focus on the Island’s natural history. Tour operators Hidden Gems will be involved again this year, as well as Lisa Greene, the natural history enthusiast. Ms Greene began her partnership with the BTA last year. “Visitors really seemed to enjoy the South Shore Eco Walking Tour,” she said. “We started at Jobson’s Cove parking lot and I led them on an hour-and-a-half walk, talking about Bermuda’s origins and giving them a very brief coastal introduction to our natural history. It was slow in the beginning, but, at the end of the tour season, it was packed.” St George’s and St David’s, described as “ground zero" in Bermuda’s historical narrative, will be highlighted to visitors as an important part of their experience. The BTA has also “shaken up” the former Rendezvous calendar, created with the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, to include an insiders’ guide to Bermuda’s cultural treasures. The calendar will now include special tours and activities at the Island’s forts and includes more events related to eco-tourism. The BTA has identified special offerings for couples, including food festivals, gombey performances and the exploration of Bermuda’s shipwreck heritage. The Bermuda Festival for the Performing Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and the BTA intends to make it one of its signature events. Festival organizers have already announced some world-class headliners, including the legendary Ellis Marsalis and renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma. Finally, the BTA’s marketing team in New York will promote a new Arts & Culture focus and an on-Island team will begin educating frontline officials on the new features.

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.


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. The Island faces “an economic storm that poses a grim threat to Bermuda’s way of life,” Governor George Fergusson told a packed Senate chamber yesterday, in a Throne Speech - for full text see ThroneSpeech - replete with references to job growth and reining in the public purse. However, the Island’s Gross Domestic Product showed its “first growth in five years” in 2013, the Governor noted: a modest rise of almost 1 per cent — and he said this financial year could prove the year in which Bermuda, “after years of recession, finally moves from decline to real growth”. The One Bermuda Alliance’s third Speech from the Throne commenced at 11am, with the Island’s “unsustainable” economic position likened to the storms that battered Bermuda last month and “revealed the living character of Bermuda.” The Cabinet building was a bustle of activity as the wet weather plan kicked into gear and last-minute preparations were completed. Up until 1999, the Speech typically took place out of public view, but for that year it was moved on to the grounds of Cabinet. Thunderstorms sent yesterday’s ceremony indoors, with a concurrent cut in the usual pomp with the Bermuda Regiment. Reading out the legislative programme for the coming year of Parliament, Mr Fergusson said the year ahead would bring immigration reforms and changes to corporate law, along with the pursuit of hotels and the America’s Cup — plus an end to conscription and a reform of cannabis laws. Groundbreaking is to start next week on an $85 million cottage development at Ariel Sands, while phase two of the $90 million Fairmont Hamilton Princess refurbishment is under way. The upcoming session of Parliament would result in an America’s Cup Act enacted, Mr Fergusson said, with a decision to be made on Bermuda’s chances to host the event before the year’s end. Government fees regulations would be amended for the allocation of the Island’s radio frequencies used by telecommunications companies, to ensure fair access and encourage competition, while the Department of E-Commerce would use the year ahead to research best practices for cyber security. A new Energy Act would shift regulation of the Island’s energy sector to the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda, while proposals to harness the vacant “finger” at the LF Wade International Airport for solar power use would be sought. Turning to recent “uncertainty and fear” expressed by public service workers over the spending cuts now under consideration by Government, Mr Fergusson said this financial year would bring a deficit of $267 million. Although the Public Bodies Reform Bill is on hold, he warned civil service workers that they were employed “in an organization that Bermuda can no longer afford to maintain at current levels.” In conjunction with unions, “several” of the Island’s labour laws would be consolidated in one Act. The Governor also listed a series of proposals under way to bring about economic growth: the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, he said, had met 351 clients between January and May, supporting 46 small businesses — giving out $2.28 million in loans. Legislation would be unrolled in the coming Parliamentary session to develop a domestic gaming industry, and the Hotels Concession Act is to be streamlined, Mr Fergusson told the Chamber. A feasibility study would look into the Island’s chances as an air navigation service provider. On the topic of roadside breath tests, he said provisions would be put aside for preliminary breath testing. To combat the allure of gang culture on Bermuda’s youth, the Mirrors Programme would be “better aligned” with the initiative Team Street Safe, and sports clubs, educators, community leaders and parents would be encouraged to network. Meanwhile, MPs would be invited to approve new cannabis laws, paving the way for the legalization of cannabinoid drugs for medical use, and a caution policy amendment granting greater discretionary powers to police officers. In conjunction with the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, ambulance coverage would be extended in the East End and West End. The end of conscription and the creation of an all-volunteer Bermuda Regiment would go before MPs in the coming session, but will not threaten the Regiment’s abilities, Mr Fergusson said. He added that criminal procedure would be reviewed for a “more efficient and effective” administration of justice, and a committee appointed to review domestic violence in Bermuda. Turning to the issue of farming, Mr Fergusson said Government had already issued a permit for a small-scale fish farm and was interested in proposals for aquaculture and hydroponic vegetable production. He told the Chamber, too, that a youth policy would be developed to give young people more of a voice in decision-making, while Government would introduce the Children Amendment Act 2014, which would require courts and a co-parenting council to mediate in custody disputes between divorced parents. Public education reforms would continue, including a “middle school transformation programme” and a national strategy to boost students’ maths performance. A new school code of conduct would be brought in at all public schools, he said, while the Career Pathways programme would be expanded. Teachers would be trained in IT education for primary schools, he said, and an inclusive and special education advisory committee would harness the input of parents. A Parent Involvement Committee would also be unrolled as a “direct response” to parents’ interest in having a greater input. On the long-standing issue of Public Access to Information, set to become operational in April next year, Mr Fergusson said the legislation would “finally enable the public to shine light” on the work of Government — and members of the public would be invited to assist in Government’s internal deliberations. “Bermuda has what it takes to overcome any challenge, any storm,” Mr Fergusson said in conclusion. He said the Island faced a moment of truth and difficult decisions, adding: “The challenge of our time is also the opportunity of our time.” 

Governor reading 2014 Throne Speech

Governor delivering the 2014 Throne Speech

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 18. A half billion dollar coup by a Bermuda-based firm will lead to more jobs, one of the prime movers said yesterday. ILS Investment Management, an arm of Bermuda-based Armour Group Holdings, acted as sub-adviser in the successful bid by multi-national Credit Suisse to raise $576 million to close the first insurance-linked securities (ILS) fund focused on property and casualty run-off portfolios. John Williams, president of Armour Group and, with Brad Huntingdon, principals of ILS Investment Management, said it will definitely mean more jobs, people are being hired now. He added that the Island traditionally specialized in catastrophe, rather than non-catastrophe, business. Mr Williams said this diversifies Bermuda's fund management  and it is an endorsement of the level of expertise in Bermuda. He added the move meant that the three largest run-off specialists were now based in Bermuda. The deal was set up by Credit Suisse Asset Management's (SCAM) ILS strategies team and ILS Investment Management and created the first ILS fund, ILS Property & Casualty Fund, aimed at property and casualty run-off portfolios. The cash was committed by a diverse mix of institutional investors, including public and corporate pension funds, endowments, insurers, fund of funds, asset managers, foundations and family offices, which the organizers said was testament to its appeal to a broad cross-section of investors. The Property & Casualty Fund, whose investment management will be carried out by ILS Investment Management, offers investors access to the returns of discontinued books of property and casualty business, lines that are in run-off and that have outstanding claims liabilities. The organizers said the size of the opportunity could eventually be very large as there are many such books of business in run-off, however the quality levels associated with them will differ widely, making the expertise of those selecting and managing it vital. They added that ILS Investment Management and SCAM have taken the lead in structuring a fund that enables investors to take a broad spectrum of insurance risk, risks that have perhaps not been as readily accessible to ILS investors ever before. The launch of the P&C Fund brings another strategy to the market which will allow ILS investors to access the returns of a different type or re/insurance business. At the moment, this is a unique proposition which may in the future find others seeking to copy. However, having the expertise in managing run-off business is key for a strategy like this fund as it is an entirely different proposition to managing a portfolio of one-year reinsurance contracts as is more typical in ILS.

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

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 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, 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

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 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

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 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:

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

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


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