SINT MAARTEN/JAMAICA – Jamaica and the Caribbean are full of opportunities that can assure wealth creation for shareholders but potential investors should do their own assessments and evaluations and not rely totally on analysts and consultants, who may not fully grasp the special characteristics of the region, Michael Lee-Chin, President and Chairman, Portland Holdings, has said.
Addressing the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum hosted by IJ Global and New Energy Events and sponsored by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank and KPMG at the Hilton Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Dec. 12, 2017, Mr. Lee-Chin said “the Caribbean is a treasure trove of what is required to create outsize wealth”.
Using Jamaica’s National Commercial Bank (NCB) as an example, he told Forum attendees: “We were told by an international consultant not to invest in NCB. We did not listen to them, did our own evaluation and 14 years later, the bank has made profit of over $1.5-billion. The country has benefitted too, because we have paid over $475-m in corporate taxes.”
He also referenced what he described as “the largest deal in 2017”, the sale of Columbus Communications (FLOW) to Cable and Wireless, to illustrate the investment readiness of the region, and told Forum delegates “be careful how you make decisions. Consider perception versus reality.”
Pointing specifically to Jamaica, Mr. Lee-Chin said “there are myriad opportunities for investors including assets that are undervalued which means net investment returns for the professional investor, excellent location and high liquidity.”
He said that changes which are coming will make investing in Jamaica even more attractive. These include the policies governing equity capital which has been “historically incarcerated by the authorities”.
“The capital test (available capital as defined by required capital) for Jamaican insurance companies for example, has been set at for many years at 25 percent as against the USA - 1 percent and Canada 1.5 percent. Finally, this is going to be reduced to 1.5 percent. This will free up long term equity and there will be lots more money available for investment in infrastructure.
Noting that many Caribbean governments are pursuing privatizations in order to boost investments, Mr. Lee-Chin offered special advice to public officials including several Premiers at the conference, “sell assets to new owners/operators for cash, make sure any new owners can grow those assets and give you annuity income via taxes and ensure wealth creation for your shareholders.”