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David McConnell is new head of Supreme Ventures

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Spreme Ventures Limited (SVL) yesterday announced that it has appointed a new chairman in William David McConnell to replace co-founder Paul Hoo.

McConnell, co-managing director of wines and spirits company Select Brands Limited and a member of the boards of Scotia Investments Jamaica and IronRock Insurance Company Limited, was appointed to the SVL board on Tuesday.

Hoo announced his resignation on November 4. This was only two weeks after the media reported a $2.9-billion buy-out of the SVL shares by Zodiac International Investments & Holdings Limited, and Mayberry West Indies Limited, on October 16, which was followed by a request from Mayberry West Indies for an extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM) to pass a resolution to remove seven members of the board, including Hoo.

However, in the interim, Mayberry Investments Limited (MIL), a local shareholder, called a press conference at which it was announced that with the resignation of three members of the board following the sale of the shares, three people it had recommended to join the board — MIL's chairman Christopher Berry, its CEO Gary Peart and Ansell Howell, a management consultant — had been appointed to fill the three vacancies which existed on the board at that time.

This gave the appearance that the issue was settled. However, it was noteworthy that the call for the EGM had a 21-day lifetime during which it was expected that additional changes would be made which would satisfy the demands of the major shareholding company.

Mayberry spokesmen – Berry and Peart — denied that a takeover was happening at SVL, and asserted that with the gaining of three more seats on the board it was reviewing its demand for the resignation of the seven directors, including Hoo.

The first indication of what direction those developments were taking came with the announcement of Hoo's resignation which was tendered at a board meeting on November 4. It is not clear whether this was the expected EGM.

With the departure of Hoo, the co-founder who has chaired the company since its inception after honing his marketing and sales skills at Grace Kennedy and Facey Commodity Company and later as Managing Director of Kingston Hatcheries, it became clear that more changes were coming to the SVL board.

This was despite an assurance from acting chairman Ian Levy that it was “business as usual”.

However, in a press release dated November 11, which was obtained by the media on Friday, SVL announced that McConnell — son of William “Billy” McConnell — had been appointed the new chairman of the board.

McConnell has a Bachelor's degree from Florida International University and a Master's in International Business and Finance from the University of Miami. The new board said that it is pleased to have McConnell as the new chairman.

“We are pleased to have David as chairman of the SVL board. We are confident that under his experienced leadership, the company will continue to grow exponentially. The entire company stands ready to support him as we work together for SVL's success,” Levy, who has now reverted to his earlier role as deputy chairman, said in the release.

“We warmly welcome our new chairman and are looking forward to working with him and the board to continue building the Supreme Ventures Group,” the recently appointed President & CEO of SVL Ann Dawn Young Sang was quoted as saying.

Other changes announced by SVl were that: with the resignation of director Peter Chin, who was also chairman of SVL's Audit Committee, Ansel Howell as a member of the audit committee and Peter McConnell has been appointed non executive director to fill the vacancy.

The release also stated that the chairman of the new audit committee will be decided at the next meeting of the board.