Grace still keen on Barbados

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, shawncumberbatch@nationnews.com

Added 19 May 2017

don-wehby-051517

Don Wehby (Internet image)

GRACEKENNEDY (GK) LIMITED, one of the Caribbean’s largest conglomerates, is looking for new investment opportunities in Barbados.

Last week, the Jamaica-based company, which has 60 subsidiaries and associated companies in the Caribbean, North and Central America, the United Kingdom and Africa, sold its 30 per cent stake in Barbados’ Trident Insurance Company Limited to the Leacock Group, the majority owner.

It means that Trident is now 100 per cent Bajan owned.

GK’s sole remaining business interest in Barbados is Signia Financial, a financial services provider it established on June 30, 2003, in partnership with Cave Shepherd & Company Ltd. and United Insurance Company Ltd.

Its shares were also previously traded on the Barbados Stock Exchange (BSE) but the group’s management opted to delist from the BSE and Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange more than six years ago.

This was because management was concerned about “the low levels of trading in GK’s stock on both these exchanges which do not justify the costs associated with maintaining the listings”.

As a result, Barbadians who own GK shares have had to trade on the Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago exchanges.

However, in confirming its divestment of Trident’s shares last week, GK said it was looking for investment opportunities not only in Barbados, but the wider Eastern Caribbean.

Giving the rationale for the sale of Trident’s shares, GK Group chief executive officer Don Wehby said: “We continue to review our partnerships and investments in keeping with our long term strategy and our thinking around disposal of this asset aligned with Trident’s own interests and plans.

“The GraceKennedy Financial Group is taking a very focused approach to the expansion of the insurance business throughout the Caribbean via wholly owned subsidiaries, an agent network and leveraging the GraceKennedy General Online platform that has been successfully deployed in Jamaica.”

While he did not say it, the implication was that GK might eventually offer its own insurance services in Barbados.

Through its subsidiaries GK General Insurance and GK Insurance (Eastern Caribbean) Limited, GK is licensed to offer insurance in Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, St Lucia and Dominica.

Officials pointed out that in 2014, the GraceKennedy Financial Group assumed controlling interest in GK Insurance (Eastern Caribbean Limited) and has since been approved to also operate in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada. (SC)

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