Senator David Burt, left, Minister Wayne Furbert and Premier Paula Cox speaking at a press conference at the Cabinet Office yesterday. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Senator David Burt, left, Minister Wayne Furbert and Premier Paula Cox speaking at a press conference at the Cabinet Office yesterday. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, JAN. 20: Rules on overseas investment in Bermuda-based companies are set to be eased off to help firms get major capital injections, business development and Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert said on Thursday.

Mr Furbert added that the move would make it easier for industries like telecommunications and energy to raise cash for investment.

He said: “This would help companies raise capital which is not available in Bermuda.”

Mr Furbert said that hotels had traditionally been exempted from the 60/40 rule, which ensures local firms have majority Bermuda ownership.

The rule has been waived in the past, most notably to allow HSBC to take over the Bank of Bermuda.

Mr Furbert said: “The 60/40 rule will still play a part in certain areas of business – but we want a more flexible and modern look at how we conduct foreign investment into Bermuda.”

Mr Furbert added that he expected to make a major announcement on hotel investment in Bermuda in the near future — although he refused to elaborate.

He was speaking as he and Premier Paula Cox, who is also Minister of Finance, unveiled several initiatives aimed at boosting the Bermuda economy.

Ms Cox said: “In the coming weeks, you will be hearing of other innovative programmes that are putting Bermuda on the map.

“There are other exciting initiatives that we will be announcing soon to accelerate those hotel developments that may appear to be stalled.

“This is important for Bermuda because it will also provide construction with a much-needed boost in the arm and ultimately make even more jobs available.”

Ms Cox said amendments to the 60/40 rule would be tabled soon, while an inter-agency partnership designed to help major plans and projects which were “considered strategically important to Bermuda” will also be set up.

She added that Business Bermuda and the Islamic Finance Task Force had made progress in attracting finance from the Arab world to Bermuda.

Ms Cox said: “In addition, there has been tremendous interest from asset managers who are considering relocating their business to Bermuda.”

Mr Furbert added that it was also hoped to attract more hedge fund managers to Bermuda, especially from Europe and the US, with officials due to visit New York and Washington soon in a bid to drum up more business in that area.

He said: “We believe that the timing is right — we have fallen back over the years on our funds, but there will be a frontal attack to bring more hedge funds to Bermuda.”

Ms Cox said: “It’s even more critically important when we do have job losses for there to be concerted effort to provide added impetus new business to come to Bermuda.”

Mr Furbert said that, on the tourist side of his portfolio, Bermuda would be represented at a major US event involving as many as 1,000 golfers.

He added: “We need to reinvigorate the Bermuda brand and discover new market sectors with the aim of greater industry diversification.”