EDITORIAL – Godspeed and good tidings to Cayman National

For good reason, many people think of Cayman National Bank as “the people’s bank” – a homegrown success story with deep community ties. That is as it should be.

Cayman National Corporation’s senior executives and board members include many well-known and highly respected personages, including Chairman Truman Bodden, CEO Stuart Dack, Clarence Flowers, Ormond Williams, Christopher Lumsden and others. Under their leadership, the bank has been a stalwart corporate citizen, sponsoring so many civic and charitable causes that we could not begin to enumerate them in this limited space – more than two dozen in the fourth quarter of this year alone.

Cayman National’s presence (perhaps “omnipresence” might be a better word) is obvious throughout these islands. In addition to the Peter A. Tomkins Building on Elgin Avenue, Cayman National operates more than a half-dozen branches from West Bay’s Centennial Towers to Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah and on both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. For banking-on-the-go convenience, they maintain ATMs at more than a dozen locations throughout Grand Cayman and both Sister Islands.

Over the past four decades, Cayman National and Cayman, generally, have enjoyed mutual growth and successes, and faced the same daunting challenges. Cayman National was the first bank to reopen its doors after Hurricane Ivan and was an integral part of Grand Cayman’s recovery, immediately and over the long term.

And so, it is in some ways understandable that the bank’s pending sale to The Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (Barbados) Ltd. would engender strong feelings locally, including some concerns and even fears.

Frankly, we look at it somewhat differently.

Cayman National may rightfully be considered a community treasure by many, but it is also a publicly traded company with duties and fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders. As Chairman Truman Bodden explained last week, upon receiving an unsolicited offer from Republic Bank, the directors were legally bound to investigate its potential and bring it to investors’ attention.

Shareholders’ response was unambiguous, with nearly 80 percent of voting shares approving an amendment to the bank’s articles of association – which cleared the way for the sale.

As business decisions must be, the board’s recommendation and investors’ ultimate decision were based on careful consideration of facts – including, of course, the share price offered.

Republic Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Republic Financial Holdings Ltd., which has more than $10 billion in assets on deposit and employs thousands staff members. Republic owns banks in Guyana, Grenada, Suriname and Ghana.

Becoming part of this expansive organization will offer Cayman National – and its customers – vast new resources and opportunities.

The Compass Editorial Board takes no position on the shareholders’ decision to sell the bank. We would only point out that sands shift and times change. Cayman today is not the same as Cayman yesterday, nor will it be the same Cayman tomorrow.

No company – or country – can be governed by either nostalgia or resistance to change. But that does not prevent us from observing, with a touch of sentimentality, that Cayman National is moving on to its next evolutionary stage. We wish all of their staff – and customers – Godspeed. We also thank them for their decades-long contributions to the Cayman community.