Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Limassol bus company turmoil averted

Passengers boarding a public bus

By Evie Andreou

THE Limassol public bus company EMEL is in full operation despite a dispute between its shareholders, the organisation’s CEO George Kyriacou said on Friday, with passengers worried of a repeat of the recent stand-off at the Nicosia bus company OSEL.

On Thursday, EMEL managed to partially free up its bank accounts, which were frozen last week after two of its shareholders filed a court request for the liquidation of the company citing a delay in the distribution of shares.

The liquidation request was filed last week by two of the seven companies-shareholders of EMEL, Kyriacou told the Cyprus Mail.

EMEL was established in 2009, as part of a government decision to upgrade the town’s public bus system. It began operations in 2010 and like similar companies in all districts, EMEL runs the Limassol network with individual shareholders charging the company a rate per kilometre to run the routes and to lease their buses.

Kyriacou admitted that EMEL’s shares were not distributed since 2010, initially because the company had to deal with other issues in order to get the contract with the government and that later there were disagreements between parties on share allocations.

He said that EMEL recently received the study it had commissioned from KPMG.

“We were taken aback by the two shareholders’ move, because when they filed for liquidation they were aware of the KPMG report,” Kyriacou said.

He added that following the liquidation request, the company’s bank accounts were frozen but that the rest of the shareholders managed through a court order on Thursday to partially unfreeze them.

“The majority of the shareholders, who hold 85 per cent of the shares, disagree with the closing down of the company, and luckily we were able to convince the court that EMEL should remain open. Of course the liquidation request still stands but that is a matter to be dealt with internally,” Kyriacou said.

He added that the news had upset the employees, but he reassures everyone that the company remains in full operation.

He said that in the unlikely case that the two shareholders refuse to run their routes, as happened in Nicosia last week with OSEL shareholders, the rest of shareholders have the capacity to deal with it.

“Although I would like to believe it will not come to this,” Kyriacou said.

He said that he, too, was accused by the disgruntled shareholders that he was taking decisions arbitrarily, but he dismissed these claims.

“I answer to the board of directors, and all decisions taken concerning the company, are made after majority approval. Even if the minority disagrees, they still have to be implemented, this is the only way to do it,” Kyriacou said.

He added that disagreements began some three years ago when a minority of shareholders disagreed with benefit and overtime cuts and asked that their own employees, mainly family members and acquaintances, were exempted from these measures.

“Of course this was not possible. This measure had to apply to everyone,” he said.

He added that the two shareholders were owed money by EMEL like all the shareholders, due to that the government paying the company less than what was agreed in the licence agreement.

“But that affects all of the shareholders, and not just them,” he said.

He added that EMEL had asked for arbitration about a year and a half ago to resolve this issue with the government, and the relevant House committee had agreed to it, but that the transport ministry refused.

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