WILLIAMS...we're looking now to establish brick and mortar on the ground in Bahamas.

Proven Group Limited (PGL) will be opening an office in The Bahamas under its banking and wealth pillar as it expands its reach across the Caribbean.

Proven Group Limited recently rebranded from Proven Investments Limited and has three pillars with the other two being real estate and portfolio holdings. It rebranded International Financial Planning Cayman Limited under the Proven Wealth brand and the two subsidiaries in the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.

"Within the three platforms, Proven Wealth Jamaica is well-known, well-established and has been creeping into The Bahamas. So, we have been flying in, building relationships and we're looking now to establish brick and mortar on the ground in Bahamas," said president and chief executive officer of Proven Management Limited (PML) Christopher Williams at the recent Proven Group Limited annual general meeting. Proven Management Limited manages the operations and investment activities of Proven Group Limited.

Proven Group Limited has exposure to The Bahamas through its recent acquisition of Heritage Education Funds International which has clients in The Bahamas. Proven Wealth also recently signed a public-private partnership (PPP) where it provided a US$20-million loan for a housing programme to build 200 low-cost homes.

When asked about the focus on The Bahamas, Williams responded, "It's rebounding very well. The international banking space in The Bahamas is very strong, the real estate space is strong and of course, the tourism space is strong. We like the economy and so, the prime minister and his ministers have been very welcoming to us. We have a great relationship with them."

Proven Group Limited is one of the recent firms which has begun to do more deals in The Bahamas. Sygnus Credit Investments Limited entered into two PPP's valued at US$34 million in The Bahamas for a highway road improvement project and rebuilding of a government complex.

When asked about the rebranding of Heritage, CEO of Proven Wealth Johann Heaven said that they expect a full relaunch and rebranding to be complete later this month.

Williams said that only about 10 units were left to be close on its Via at Braemar development in St Andrew, and held the grand opening on the prior Saturday. The César on Millsborough Avenue in St Andrew was completed during the first quarter as well.

Its real estate pillar just broke ground on Sol Harbour in Ocho Rios, St Ann which is expected to be completed by September 2024. He also mentioned that there were two properties in Runaway Bay which were close to being launched as well.

With respect to Gladstone Commercial development on Gladstone Drive in St Andrew, which will be the group head office and The Lagoons residential development in the Cayman Islands, he noted that developments are scheduled to be finished by January instead of the September timeline. They are also looking towards the US$3.2-million business complex development in the Cayman Islands with Infinity Capital Partners.

"The development that we've done in Cayman has been phenomenally profitable. It is on budget, on time and it's been an excellent experience working with our contractors in Cayman," Williams added.

While Barbados-based Roberts Manufacturing Company continues to be a strong addition to Proven's income statement, the company's margins are currently being squeezed due to a price cap in Barbados which affects 50 per cent of the company's sales. Proven Group owns 50.5 per cent of the manufacturing company which produces shortening, margarine and cooking oil products that are sold in 15 countries.

"The additional competition is that the prime minister asked us to hold prices for six months. So, that squeezed our margins significantly. We have had slow profit months when the sales are still strong, but because our margins have been pressured, the last two months have been a lot slower than we'd like to be. We're good with Roberts and the brand is so strong in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. We're not going anywhere, and we'll batten down and see ourselves through it. Our margins will recover by early next year," Williams added.

While the group doesn't plan on selling any associates especially JMMB Group which Williams described as being "on fire", it also wouldn't be engaging in any acquisitions based on the slowdown in the region.

"We operate right across the Caribbean. There are varying levels of downturn, none of which is significant in terms of a percentage downturn, nothing greater than three or four per cent. There is definitely a slowdown right across the Caribbean. That's coming from interest rate hikes, inflation, supply chain challenges, etc. We're not looking for any acquisitions as a result. We're just sitting tight and making the best of our existing portfolio," Williams said.

Proven Group's net revenue increased by 133 per cent to US$15.12 million in its first quarter due to Roberts being consolidated for a full quarter compared to the prior period when it only had less than three weeks on its books. The group also saw a significant increase in its fees and commissions and other income related to Proven Bank (Cayman) and Heritage Funds.

Despite the growth in revenue, expenses rose at a similar rate which left it with an operating profit of US$593,513 relative to the US$298,268 operating loss in the prior period. However, its share of associates amounting to US$2.63 million pushed its profit before tax to US$3.12 million. Net profit attributable to shareholders rose 12 per cent to US$1.74 million.

While Proven's asset base is up more than 60 per cent on a year-over-year basis to US$1.12 billion, its asset base shrunk by two per cent in the first quarter as it paid down its notes payable balance. Its equity attributable to shareholders declined 12 per cent in the first quarter of its financial year to US$126.15 million as its investment valuation reserve extended further into the red, stemming from falling asset prices during the period.

Proven's US–dollar stock price is up four per cent to US$0.2150 while the Jamaican–dollar stock price is down six per cent to $31.17.


Group B

Cedar Grove 2, St Mary’s College 0

Jamaica College 9, Holy Trinity 0

St Jago 2, St Catherine 1

Group C

Bridgeport 2, Vauxhall 1

Edith Dalton 1, Charlie Smith 2

Haile Selassie 1, Tivoli 0

Group E

Hydel 0, Camperdown 0

Mona 1, Wolmer’s Boys’ 0

Papine 2, Kingston High 0


Group F

Excelsior vs Clan Carthy @ Excelsior

Campion vs Cumberland @ Campion

Kingston Technical vs Jose Marti @ Kingston Technical

BY DAVID ROSE Observer business writer davidr@jamaicaobserver.com

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