NCB Capital Markets deepening reach across region
NCB Atrium on Trafalgar Road in New Kingston

Following the successful roll-out of its GoIPO platform in Jamaica, NCB Capital Markets Limited (NCBCM) has deployed the platform in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of First Citizens Group Financial Holdings Limited’s (FCGFH) additional public offering (APO).

GoIPO was launched in January 2019 ahead of the Wigton Windfarm Limited’s initial public offering (IPO) when the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) raised $5.5 billion from the sale of its stake in the renewable energy company. It processed 4,700 applications from the 31,200 applications in that offer.

The IPO was NCBCM’s litmus test for the digital platform as it eventually paved the way for the institution to exclusively arrange Mailpac Group Limited’s $495-million IPO, which was by oversubscribed 300 per cent with more than $2 billion in subscriptions.

The platform also handled the TransJamaican Limited’s $14.1-billion IPO in February 2020, which had 31,624 applicants paying over $25.12 billion in subscription. While the IPO had other selling agents, the GoIPO platform was the main tool for investors to apply for the offer as no application form was included in the prospectus.

“Stemming from the ‘ground-breaking’ experience in Jamaica, we intend to leverage the learnings garnered and our proven expertise in charting the kinds of innovation required to elevate the equities market regionally, beginning with the expansion of GoIPO into Trinidad & Tobago,” said Chief executive officer (CEO) of NCBCM Steven Gooden in a published release.

Gooden is the chairman of NCB Merchant Bank (Trinidad and Tobago) Limited (NCBTT) which gained admission to the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange (TTSE) in June 2021.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT) intends to sell 10,869,565 shares in FCGFH and raise TT$500 million ($11.50 billion) from the APO. This prices the unit share offer around TT$46, which is a nine per cent discount to the stock’s current price of TT$50. The GOTT owns 64.43 per cent or 161,946,890 shares in the financial group. The sale would reduce its stake to 60.11 per cent. FCGFH’s stock price is down 20 per cent year to date with a market capitalisation of TT$12.57 billion.

According to Eva Mitchell, CEO, TTSE, “The introduction of GoIPO to our market is timely, given the increased interest being shown by businesses to participate in the equity capital markets. GoIPO is a platform that can be accessed by any holder of a TTCD account, providing opportunity to the wider market. In other words, it is available to the investing public regardless of broker alignment. The Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange is ripe for innovation geared towards deepening the capital markets. With global economic uncertainties, it is imperative that investors have a wide array of options to diversify their investments portfolio and that is only possible with increased access to credible opportunities.”

GoIPO is the first and only digital platform in the twin-island republic which can facilitate public equity offers. Similar to Jamaica, the platform can be used by anyone with a brokerage account once NCBTT is a selling agent to the offer. This comes at a time when persons can sign up as NCBCM clients in Jamaica, Barbados, T&T or the Cayman Islands and can sign up for an account in the other respective jurisdictions using the GoIPO platform. NCBCM upgraded the platform in 2021 to allow for the biometric verification of clients’ know-your-customer (KYC) documents to make the onboarding process more simplified.

When asked about the expansion of the platform’s capabilities, Gooden said, “We are continuously improving and expanding the capabilities of our digital channels and we are currently working on making fixed income offers available via our digital platforms.”

NCBCM created GoIPO following the record-breaking Wisynco Group Limited IPO in December 2017 when it got more than 7,400 paper applications in a week, totalling $18.8 billion compared to the $6.1 billion target. This required the firm to work overtime and hire additional personnel to process the volume of applications in what was the largest IPO at the time.

Even Wigton’s IPO saw line stretching along Knutsford Boulevard and curling around blocks as person’s went to open accounts at Jamaica Money Market Brokers Limited (JMMB). Various selling agents even detailed how staff were leaving at 2 am as they processed application forms for the offer and onboarding of clients in creating new accounts. Even lead broker Mayberry Investments Limited had to set up tents in its parking lot to accommodate the number of individuals signing up for accounts at the time.

Since then, several other brokers have launched digital platforms locally such as Proven Wealth — IPOPRO; Barita Investments — Barita Boss; Sagicor Investments — eInvest; VM Wealth Management — Wealth Edge; and Mayberry Investments — MI IPO.

NCBCM is currently awaiting approval from local authorities to officially launch its subsidiary NCBCM (Guyana) Inc. Apart from arranging more than $22 billion in transactions in 2022, NCBCM has also revamped its private equity service offerings to support businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, that require patient capital in this macroeconomic environment of rising interest rates and double-digit inflation.

Sekou Crawford was promoted from his role as manager of origination and structuring to assistant vice-president for investment banking on March 1.

As it continues to push technology as the forefront of its operations, NCBCM launched its Wealth Connect mobile application on January 1. Since then, it has added new features such as the ability to buy and sell unit trust products, transfer between NCBCM and NCB Jamaica accounts and get data such as the price to earnings and price to book ratios. NCBCM is the wealth management arm of the NCB Financial Group with the segment reporting a 18 per cent reduction in operating profit to $5.10 billion.

“The feedback from our clients on the app has been positive. They have found it convenient and they value having the market data in app. They also find viewing appreciating and depreciating stock details at any time really helpful and they have indicated that the app simplifies the process of equity investing for them. Client feedback also included requests for improvements including adding new features, including allowing order cancellation and providing buy and sell queues. These are all in the backlog to be developed this year into next financial year,” Gooden closed.

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