INVESTMENT FUNDS

Jamaica 2019 | FINANCE | B2B

Investment funds with a client-first approach and top-drawer digitalization efforts are the reason why the Jamaica Stock Exchange continues to be among the best-performing stock markets globally.

Steven Whittingham
STEVEN WHITTINGHAM
Group Chief Investment Officer, GraceKennedy Limited & Managing Director
GK Capital Management Limited
Gary Peart
GARY PEART
CEO
Mayberry Investments

What were the main highlights in 2018?

STEVEN WHITTINGHAM We started GK Capital with a focused approach and mission to facilitate transformational transactions. Simply put, we wanted to help our clients execute transactions that make their businesses much better, whether it is raising debt or equity, M&A activities, and asset management services that help them build their portfolios. 2018 is the year where we hit the nail on the head for all of the targets we had set for our organization. One of the highlights for 2018 was a highly successful IPO for Indies Pharmaceuticals. We also raised debt instruments for large and small corporate clients in 2018 and signed mandates for IPOs in the coming years. It is important to mention that in a relatively short period of time, we have managed to build a portfolio of over JMD10 billion. In terms of our brokerage business, while we are a small brokerage house, we have focused on facilitating the sale of large blocks of publicly traded companies in the local market and have a great platform for the brokerage of US equities.

GARY PEART The year 2018 was a great one; Jamaica has been on track to record growth, and Mayberry registered profits for the third consecutive year. In 2018, we listed our subsidiary, a standalone limited liability company, Mayberry Jamaican Equities (MJE). It holds all our long-term investments as we disposed of all investments that were not publicly listed equities. We were pleased with the results of the listing, which led to the biggest movement in our profits for 2018. MJE is the only company of its kind in Jamaica. We encourage people to buy into it to access the benefits of the pre-arranged portfolio. Our company's growth also benefitted from a strong performance of the local stock market. The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), of which I am Deputy Chairman, was again rated among the best-performing stock markets in the world in 2018. As a stockbroker, we have a seat on the board of the JSE, and we also buy and sell shares.

What are your competitive advantages?

SW We believe we have a really attractive value proposition. First, we are a subsidiary of GraceKennedy and that means a lot to our clients. GraceKennedy is built on a framework of honesty, integrity, and trust. Whether justified or not, in the local financial services market, there is a perception that some financial houses are aggressive and may not always act in the best interests of their clients; GK Capital does not have this issue, we are completely focused on the success of our clients. For example, we do not sell a security to our clients that we are not prepared to put on our balance sheet. Our real differentiator is our team. We are relatively small in size, but our performance shows we have the best team in the industry.

GP Initially, Mayberry was a stockbroker, expanding over time into a full-service financial services business. We offer services in trading (fixed income, equities, and currency), asset management (pensions, management portfolios, and CI mutual funds) and investment banking (mergers and acquisitions, advisory, IPOs, divestitures, and debt raises). Mayberry is one of the leading broker-dealers in the local marketplace as a standalone, fully Jamaican entity. Our biggest asset is our relationship building and management, which has, often times, resulted in many transactions. Over the last five years, we have led the highest number of listings on the JSE among brokers. We are also one of the leading bond issuers in the country. We pride ourselves on our marketing: we focus on direct marketing and digital media, while we have pulled back from traditional electronic and print media.

What are your investments in the energy sector?

SW Our activity in the sector began when we represented Jamaican Energy Partners in 2014. Up until our recent transaction with JPS, we had completed one of the largest energy financings in the local market by a securities dealer. We also facilitated the sale of private equity in a 37-MW solar energy plant in Westmoreland. We are actively in the process of finalizing the 7-MW power plant that is being constructed for the University of the West Indies Mona Campus.

Can you tell us about your digitalization efforts?

GP Our app is one of our proudest achievements: it is the first app in Jamaica to allow stock trading. The biggest benefit we have seen is the reduction in the time it takes customers to access statement balances. We are looking to be fully digitalized as an organization within the next two years. Importantly, digitalization allows smaller businesses to compete with larger competitors.