Business

Jamaican-owned holding firm acquires US mobile app company

Plans to list on JSE

By Shamille Scott Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 02, 2013    

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Keystone Augusta, a Jamaican-owned diversified holdings company, has acquired a controlling interest in a Tampa, Florida-based mobile application development firm.

The acquisition of an 80 per cent stake in Apptitude Mobile is part of Keystone's plans to lay the groundwork before it floats shares in Jamaica, providing local investors with an opportunity to buy into the high-growth US technology industry, said David Mullings, co-founder of the company.

According to Mullings, to have local investors benefit, Keystone plans to create a related company that invests in deals that it sources and executes, register it in a Caricom jurisdiction and then list it on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).

"The original plan was to list Keystone Augusta on the JSE but we have opted to set up a special purpose vehicle instead," Mullings said.

Mullings said, before listing, Keystone would ideally like to have at least one acquisition and two minority investments showing sustained growth post-purchase. The company has also purchased a minority stake in another firm, which it feels will complement Apptitude.

"Track record is everything, especially for a young firm like ours," Mullings said.

Keystone has no intention of investing in companies in Jamaica, but instead will focus on overseas investments in areas such as cloud computing, mobile technology, and sustainable technology (eco-friendly products).

"We look to well-managed, undervalued companies in the high-growth industries which include the tech sector," said Mullings, adding that he wants to invest in companies that hasve the potential to sell to Fortune 500 companies.

Mullings suggested that the listing will provide an excellent value proposition to local investors, especially after the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar and another debt exchange.

"It is wise to have some US dollar investments not tied to the Jamaican economy," Mullings said.

Apptitude develops software specific to its clients rather than for the general public. The company is on track to meeting its revenue target for the 2013 financial year, according to Mullings.

"On the software side, there isn't any fall-off in the IT sector, and we don't expect to see any compared to the hardware aspect," said Mullings.

Mullings stated that he along with his business partners, brother Robert and Kirk Anthony Hamilton, modelled the company after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett, who is considered to be the most successful investor in the 20th century, is renowned for his long-term investment strategy.

Photo: David Mullings

David Mullings, co-founder of Keystone Augusta.

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