SSL Ventures hits snag as it seeks new name to boost outlookFriday, December 27, 2019
BY ALEXIS MONTEITH
SSL Ventures continues its quest for a new name as its preferred option of “Boost Ventures” has hit a snag.
In early December it was announced in some parts of the media that SSL Venture Capital (SSLVC), owned by SSL Jamaica, would be changing its name to Boost Ventures and that the company had reserved the new name with the Companies Office of Jamaica.
However, subsequent to this announcement, the company was contacted by businessman Philip Bernard, who is a partner at law firm Bernard and Company and who owns a firm called Boost Financial Services, to notify them that the name was already taken and being used.
Bernard revealed that his business was approached by SSL while it was under the previous management of Mark Croskery and had “entered into a relationship of sorts with them, and we were in the process of finalising terms for raising of capital”.
“Those discussions kind of halted as a result of the changes that they seem to be going through,” he explained, alluding to a number of recent changes in management. “So we have an ongoing relationship with them and so we were very surprised when in fact it was another investor we were in discussions with that approached us with concern and sent us this news release.
“We have two major concerns which are: one, there is an existing relationship with us, they are aware of our name and two, that just generally there would be, I would say, sufficient notice to them, even in the absence of the relationship, that they would be aware of who we are,” Bernard continued.
However, the current CEO of SSL Group, Zachary Harding, who joined the organisation around the time of Croskery's departure, insists that his team had no knowledge of Bernard's company.
“The current team at SSL has maintained that they were completely unaware that the third party [Bernard] had a company named Boost Financial Services,” Harding stated. “If this had been known by previous management, it was not communicated to the rest of the business, despite claims by the third party that others should have known.”
“In order to minimise any confusion, SSL immediately took the decision not to proceed with using the name Boost and immediately wrote to the third party via e-mail as well as to the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), separately, advising them that we had no interest in the name and would not be using it,” Harding added.
In explaining the original decision to change the name of SSLVC to Boost, Harding referred to SSLVC's suspension from trading on the stock exchange due to late filing of audited financials, which had taken place before his arrival at the group, and explained that due to confusion in the market because of the similarity of the names Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) and SSLVC “an internal decision was made and approved by the board of SSL Jamaica [a non-listed, private entity] who owns 80 per cent of SSLVC [a listed entity on the Junior Stock Exchange], to change the name of SSLVC to something else.
“The end result is people said 'oh SSL got kicked off the stock exchange' which is inaccurate because SSL is not on the stock exchange,” Harding stated, explaining that the situation was causing problems with SSL's customers.
The negative PR therefore motivated the decision to change the name of SSLVC.
“To initiate that process I instructed the marketing team internally to come up with something,” the CEO related.
According to Harding, over a dozen names were proposed which were narrowed to three with Boost Ventures emerging as the preferred option.
“SSL initiated a name search for Boost Venture Capital Limited at the Companies Office and awaited a formal reply from them before proceeding,” Harding informed. “The board was notified of the intent to change the name to Boost and approved same, once all formal diligence had been completed and the relevant approvals granted.”
While SSL sent a letter to the JSE as a courtesy advising that they were considering changing the name to Boost Venture Capital, Harding informed that the company did not notify the media or make a public announcement and that this information must have come from another entity.
Following on the decision to reverse the selection of the name Boost, the JSE has been informed that a new name for SSLVC will be indicated as soon as one is finalised.
In the meantime, Bernard is claiming that the recent announcement in the media of a SSLVC name change has affected the fund-raise being pursued by his business and that damage control is being applied to clients and staff as a result of the confusion which has been generated.
“So at this point in time we are kind of just putting together looking at the options and seeing how we are going to deal with it,” he said.