In the 1960s, for the average Bahamian, access to the wealth creating stock market of the United States wasn’t even the remotest possibility. It was as far removed from the public sensibilities, of ordinary Bahamians, as the moon is from the sun. Even if access could have possibly been there, where was the money coming from to invest; or for that matter, the market skill and expertise. There was also the not too small matter of government imposed foreign currency exchange controls, as well as restrictions on Bahamians holding foreign currencies accounts in local banks.
So when a group of supposed professionals began an investment trust, aimed at providing this to the Bahamian public, promising returns on their investment which would exceed the market, well, this was something quite unique.
The Bahamas was changing in ways that the average Joe on the street couldn’t even comprehend. Under the United Bahamian Party (UBP), investors were flocking into the island paradise to take best advantage of its no tax regime. Not only were hotel and second home investors pouring in, to get a piece of the sun gold The Bahamas was offering, dozens of financial investors were given a warm welcome as well.
As the arms were warm and welcoming, many rushed in.
Founders of The First Bahamas Investment Trust and The Second Bahamas Investment Trust: W. W. McAlpin, President of a New Providence Securities, Ltd ., Mr. R. H. Pringle, Mr. P. J. Rafferty and Mr. J. R. Millar.
September 24, 1962 – THE FIRST BAHAMAS INVESTMENT TRUST
Imagine that in September 1962, there was an international investment fund, in Nassau, that traded in publicly held American company stocks, but also allowed Bahamians to invest. The First Bahamas Investment Trust was created, with an initial share price was $100 per share.
By January 1965, First Bahamas Investment Trust was launching a new share offering in the Trust. 10,000 shares at $49.10, were offered to Bahamians. The initial offering sold out quickly raising some $491,000.
“The First Bahamas Investment Trust, through its investments in the top performing United States mutual funds and the use of borrowed capital, has had an average of better than 20% per year growth of net asset value per share.
The First Bahamas Investment Trust has taken a conservative investment of the diversification in mutual funds and has through the use of borrowed capital, translated this investment into one of exceptional growth.
Studies of the past performance of all the United States mutual funds indicate that over a period of years this average growth of asset value can be maintained and, in fact, probably improved. Although many individual securities never regain values lost during periods of market fluctuation, all mutual funds have recovered their losses and have shown an increase in the value of the shares over a period of time.
Most economists predict that the United States economy is entering one of its greatest period of growth and expansion tremendous gains in the technology of all sizes of industry have opened new opportunities for growth. United States industry has taken an aggressive position, not only with in the boundaries of the United States, but also in manufacturing and marketing throughout the world.
Through its investments, The First Bahamas Investment Trust will participate in this booming economy for the benefit of its shareholders. The First Bahamas Investment Trust and The Second Bahamas Investment Trust have the same objective, the same portfolio, the same proportion of leverage, the same management company company, trustee, custodian and auditor.”
The First Bahamas Investment Trust boasted a considerable increase in share value from 1962 to 1964.
On January 1, 1963, an initial $100 investment was worth $104.03.
On January 1, 1964, the value was $129.34.
December 31, 1964 the value was $146.07.
On December 1, 1964, there was a 3 for 1 stock split making the price per share now $48.69.
On January 1, 1965, a new 10,000 share offering was issued at a price of $49.10 per share.
JANUARY 1965 – THE SECOND BAHAMAS INVESTMENT TRUST
Following on the success of The First Bahamas Investment Trust, The Second Bahamas Investment Trust was launched.
“A new unit trust that will provide to residents of the colony and the rest of the Sterling Area the unique opportunity to participate in the prosperity of the United States was established in the Bahamas this week.
New Providence Securities, Ltd., and Arawak Trust Company Ltd., as the managing company and trustee respectively have introduced the new trust to afford residents of the Sterling Area advantages similar to those already enjoyed by investors in The First Bahamas Investment Trust.
This trust, which has been in operation for just over two years, has experienced great success with the value of the shares rising since it’s inception from $100 each to a current price equivalent of $147.”
(Nassau Guardian, Weekend, January 9-10, 1965)
Was The First Bahamas Investment Trust Investing In More Than American Stocks?
In December 1964, a new pirate radio station had begun broadcasting. The station was operating from a ship anchored just off the British coast.
Pirate radio or a pirate radio station broadcasts without a valid license. In some cases radio stations are considered legal where the signal is transmitted, but illegal where the signals are received. This is particularly relevant especially when the signals cross a national boundary.
What was unique about the Honduras registered ship from which the illegal pirate radio was operating from, was that it was backed by a Bahamas Investment Trust.
(The Gazette Montreal, Monday, 28 December 1964)
JANUARY 9, 1965 – The Second Bahamas Investment Trust is launched at 200,000 at £5 per share.
This would yield £1,000,000 if fully subscribed.
Shares offered between January 9 to January 30, 1965.
BLACKLISTED 1967 – FIRST BAHAMAS INVESTMENT TRUST
By February 1967, First Bahamas Investment Trust had undergone two significant changes.
First significant change was that the Trust had changed its name. The new name was now a very generic sounding, Capital Growth Fund.
The second significant change was that Capital Growth Fund, formerly First Bahamas Investment Trust, was now BLACKLISTED.
(Fort Lauderdale News, Friday, 10 February 1967)
Capital Growth Fund formerly known as First Bahamas Investment Fund