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Best time to be on the Rock First Rock promotes local real estate investments

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 23, 2018

RYAN R Reid, co-founder, president and CEO, First Rock Capital Holdings Ltd, thinks there has never been a better time to invest in Jamaica.

“It is the best time, at least in my adult years: It's the best time I have seen,” Reid insisted as he slumps into his CEO's chair at the less-than-a- year-old investment holding company.

“I think it is the best time to be a Jamaican: the economic indicators are pointing in the right direction, the fundamentals are sound, and what we are seeing now is a more excited and enthused investing public: We are seeing a more excited and enthused investing public and the image of Jamaica, globally, is one that is becoming even more attractive as the days go by,” he added.

Reid's anxiety to take advantage of the booming investment environment led to a conversation with seasoned medical doctor, Dr Michael Banbury.

“We saw where there was a clear opening for an investment holding company which totally focuses on real estate and private equity, and to be very aggressive in that regard,” he explained.

Reid, a former general manager at Proven Wealth Management and director of Jamaica Mortgage Bank, said the discussion morphed into something much more than that.

“We moved into planning mode and the first stage of our planning was to get together a group of individuals, at the board level, who we thought would represent a full expanse of the areas we wanted to cover, which were real estate and private equity,” he noted.

Eventually First Rock Capital Holdings Ltd (FCH) was formed, as a limited liability company incorporated in and under the laws of St Lucia.

FCH is in the business of holding real assets, in forms of both equity and debt, deploying its capital in various real estate vehicles for the ultimate benefit of its shareholders, similarly to the real estate investment trust (REIT) model of the United States of America (USA).

A REIT is a company that owns, operates or finances income-producing real estate. Modeled after mutual funds REITs provide all investors the chance to own valuable real estate, present the opportunity to access dividend-based income and total returns, and help communities grow, thrive and revitalise.

REITs allow anyone to invest in portfolios of real estate assets in the same way they invest in other industries — through the purchase of individual company stock or through a mutual fund or exchange traded fund (ETF). The stockholders of a REIT earn a share of the income produced through real estate investment – without actually having to go out and buy, manage or finance property.

REIT-owned real estate is an important part of the US economy and local communities. Through the properties they own, finance and operate, REITs are seen as real estate working for you.

Adopting the REIT model, FCH intends to facilitate individuals and investing in large-scale properties, the same way they invest in other industries, that is through the purchase of stock.

In the same way shareholders benefit by owning stocks in other corporations, the shareholders of FCH will earn a share of the income produced through the real estate investment activities of FCH.

Reid says that FCH expects to get listed in the main exchange market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) within the first couple of months of 2019.

“That is really to create a market for our shareholders who would have participated primarily in our private placement,” he noted.

He said that with the sustained economic growth, what his company sees is an emergence of opportunities for effective utilisation of capital.

“And, we see these opportunities as being more pronounced in the real estate sector, the private equity space, and the real sector. So our mandate is to effectively capitalise on opportunities within these spaces,” he stated.

“And how do we do that? Through proper identification of opportunities, analysis, robust due diligence, and a structure for making that decision prior to deployment — and that process must and will always be in the interest of our shareholders,” he added.

The board of directors of First Rock Capital Holdings is completed with — former banking executive Norman Reid, deputy chairman; ICT business pioneer, Douglas Halsall; construction mogul, YP Seaton; Branson Entrepreneur Centre CEO, Lisandra Rickards; real estate attorney, Alton Morgan; and real estate executive, Pierre Shirley.

There is also a management company, First Rock Capital Resources Ltd which, in effect, manages the affairs of First Rock Capital Holdings, and which is headed by former credit union boss, Basil Naar. Other members of that board are — Caribbean Fencing Ltd's Philip Martin, who is the deputy chairman; co-founder Dr Michael Banbury; former NCB executive Marjorie Seeberan; Better Homes and Gardens CEO, Edwin Wint; and co-founder Ryan Reid.