Jamaicans form private equity firm on Wall St

Commonwealth soon to acquire large stake in local financial services institution

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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FLUSH with US$30 million in capital to invest, a group of Jamaican bankers and investors has set up shop on Wall Street where they plan to give Caribbean investors close access to the global capital markets.

Commonwealth Partners, which is led by former Financial Services Commission (FSC) head, Rohan Barnett, has already partnered with an existing broker dealer outfit in New York and a Cayman-based pension fund administrator.

What's more, the US-incorporated private equity firm is on the verge of finalising a deal that will see it recapitalise and partner with a Jamaican-based financial services institution.

"We will utilise our numerous local and overseas relationships to grow our funding base and deliver the financial services model that the market is demanding," Barnett told the Business Observer.

Indeed, the newly formed company's primary focus will be on acquisition of hard assets both in the Caribbean and the US, as well as developing an investment portfolio targeted at highly rated emerging market opportunities.

No doubt the investment house's stance on raising funds is reflected by its inclusion on the board of the 30-year-old rainmaker, Paul Simpson, who led Proven Investments' first US$10-million rights issue after co-leading the largest private placement in the Caribbean, which saw Proven raise US$20 million.

Commonwealth's board and management also includes Jamaicans who are veteran bankers in the US, such as chief financial officer, Weldon Maddan, who had 12 years experience with Citigroup North America.

The strategic alliance with the Cayman Fund administrator gives Commonwealth a customer base and a platform which spreads into several Caribbean markets, while the soon-to-be-acquired stake in the Jamaican financial services institution gives the Cayman entity a toehold in the fund administration business in Jamaica.

Tying them all back to the brokerage in the US positions Commonwealth as an integrated financial services platform which gives investors in the Caribbean and among its Diaspora direct access to the global capital markets, while enabling them to increase their participation in capital market opportunities back in the region.

With growing appetite regionally for exposure to US capital markets and alternatives to sovereign fixed income products, Commonwealth also plans to deliver a suite of products specifically tailored to the needs of the un-banked and under-banked segments of the Caribbean Diaspora in North America.




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