Zacca to introduce new technology, lead Caribbean expansion

BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter

Friday, March 17, 2017

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Richard Byles, speaking at a press conference called in Kingston to announce new group appointments at Sagicor Group Jamaica, indicates that the company is eyeing the central American region, as well as the Northern and Western areas of the Caribbean for expansion.

Byles will retire as CEO, managing director and president of Sagicor Group Jamaica at the end of April, making way for Christopher Zacca, but will also assume chairmanship of Sagicor Group on June 1, 2017, taking the helm when current chairman Danny Williams retires on the same day.

The businessman said that while "language is the only challenge", the group intends to leverage its relationships in Costa Rica as a springboard for future growth in the non-English-speaking Caribbean and Central American region.

Sagicor Group, a subsidiary of Sagicor Financial Corporation, is present in Jamaica, Cayman and Costa Rica. Sagicor Financial Corporation itself operates in more than 20 countries, and its operations date back to 1840.

Christopher Zacca, speaking at the press conference called by Chairman Danny Williams to announce group changes, said his approach will be to build on the "sound foundation" already laid at Sagicor, noting that he will be working to assure the team that there will be no issues surrounding the change in leadership.

Zacca hinted that a major task will be the introduction of new technology group-wide, but he stated that this will be done in a way not to alienate staff.

New taxes placed on health insurance, he said, would be a very short-term problem. "I support the position that it is not right," he said, noting that it could deplete resources to the public health sector which are already "totally underfunded".

Chairman Danny Williams stated that under Byles’s stewardship, Sagicor Jamaica successfully managed several acquisitions to emerge as a significant leader in insurance and financial services.

"With his appointment to the post of chairman, we will continue to benefit from his expertise."

He noted that during his 13-year tenure as president and CEO, Byles oversaw the acquisition and assimilation of First Life Insurance Company, Blue Cross, the acquisition of PanCaribbean and RBC Bank’s Jamaican operations.

Williams, although retired as chairman, will remain as a director of a number of Sagicor’s boards and will remain as chairman of the Sagicor Foundation.

Stephen Facey, chairman and CEO of Pan Jamaican Investment Ltd, a major shareholder in Sagicor Group Jamaica, also spoke at the press conference and expressed his confidence with the appointment of Zacca as president & CEO, and of Byles as chairman. PanJam has 30 per cent shareholding in Sagicor Group Jamaica.

The group offers products and services in the areas of banking, insurance, investments, real estate, asset management and retirement planning. Sagicor Life Jamaica Ltd is the leading life and health insurance provider in Jamaica.

The group and its subsidiaries have total assets of $340.9 billion as at December 31, 2016.

In 2016, net profit attributable to shareholders of the group was $11.26 billion, made on revenues of $59.7 billion. This compared to earnings of $9.79 billion in 2015 on revenues of $55 billion in 2015.

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