Business

Willing to invest in energy

Pan Jam concerned about stalled 380 MW project

Friday, August 22, 2014    

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Pan Jamaica Investment Trust (Pan Jam) is optimistic that the Government will meet its International Monetary Fund (IMF) targets.

But the conglomerate is worried about the stalled 380 megawatt (MW) energy project, according to the company's latest financial statements.

"We are concerned with the slow progress of the development of new energy capacity for the country, the successful implementation of which has the potential to have a significant positive effect on the economy," said a joint statement by president and CEO Stephen Facey and chief operating officer Paul Hanworth.

On July 21 Government officially revoked the licence of Energy World International (EWI) to construct the 380 MW plant.

The plant would run on cheaper liquefied natural gas (LNG) and thereby diversify the nation's heavy dependence on expensive oil.

EWI failed to pay its US$36.8 million performance bond on time.

Problems emerged in May after EWI failed to receive funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The bank cited procurement breaches outlined in a report from the Office of the Contractor General.

The Government in May set up a parliamentary body, the Energy Sector Enterprise Team headed by Vin Lawrence, to oversee the future development of the project.

The island has been looking at introducing LNG to the energy mix for over a decade now.

Pan Jam is one of 11 entities considering taking equity positions in the formation of venture capital funds facilitated through the state-owned Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).

Investing in energy is an area of interest for the conglomerate, according to Development Bank of Jamaica documents.

Pan Jam, which as a property developer earned most of its income from rentals in the past, now earns the bulk of its income from its investments in associated companies, particularly in insurance giant, Sagicor Jamaica.

For the three months to June 30 its operating profit totalled $271.8 million while its share of results from associated companies totalled $536 million.

Pan Jam owns one-third of Sagicor; 20 per cent in Chukka Caribbean Adventures Limited, an attractions tour; 35 per cent stake in Caribe Hospitality Jamaica Limited, a property development company; and 50 per cent holding in Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited.

The Mavis Bank operation is held under parent company New Castle (which includes sauce brands Walkerswood,Jamaica Joe and Busha Browne).

Pan Jam earned $627 million net profit during the three months to June 30, or 29 per cent more than year-earlier levels. Its six months net profit totalled $1 billion or 50 per cent higher than the comparative period in 2013, as the government debt swap, done as a pre-condition to a new IMF agreement last year, cut profits for the conglomerate in 2013.

An IMF team is currently on the island to conduct the fifth review of Jamaica's performance under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

The visit is aimed at determining whether Jamaica met all quantitative targets and structural benchmarks under the programme, for the April to June quarter.

"We remain very encouraged, however, by the Government of Jamaica's progress against the IMF targets and the determination and spirit demonstrated to achieve them," the directors stated at Pan Jam in the financials. "The visit by the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, would not have occurred without such progress."

Jamaica received US$70.9 million, bringing total disbursements to US$414.4 million under the EFF which started last year.

The Government effectively balanced the budget during the last fiscal year, which also saw roughly 14 per cent currency depreciation over the period.

Pan Jam continues to enjoy high property occupancy levels exceeding 97 per cent. Its current development includes the Courtyard/Marriott Hotel project in New Kingston. The conglomerate previously criticised the Government for the delays in granting approval for the hotel.

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