Proven's rebranding and integration progressing
Proven CEO Christopher Williams, earlier this year, pointing at the Cayman-based Fidelity Bank which is being renamed Proven Bank (Cayman).

WITH a focus on integrating its subsidiaries across the Caribbean, Proven Investments Limited has changed its name to Proven Group Limited (PGL) and is aiming to establish a common Proven brand and integrated information technology structure.

This change took effect on July 7 following the approval of four resolutions at its June 24 board meeting. A new St Lucian International Business Company (IBC) subsidiary has also been established under the name Proven Investments Holdings Limited on July 7. It has the same registered agent of McNamara Corporate Services Inc, whose Managing Director Rhory McNamara is also the deputy chairman of the Proven Group.

The other resolutions included a name change for BOSLIL Bank Limited which is to be renamed Proven Bank (St Lucia) Limited subject to the approval of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority in St Lucia. Proven also intends to rename Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Limited as Proven Bank (Cayman) Limited once it gets approval from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. While the disclosure on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) stated that Proven intended to change the name of Real Properties Limited to Proven Properties Limited, a check on Pinnacle revealed that the name change took effect from May 2021.

"We're going to take those five entities, establish a shared service platform, and then have those five entities wrapped under two brands — Proven Bank, which is what we'll look to establish in St Lucia and Cayman, plus Proven Wealth which we'll look to establish in Cayman, Bahamas, Bermuda and the BVI. At the end of this exercise we're going to end up with two brands: Proven Bank, which will target primarily the international banking market, and [we'll] build out our Proven Wealth brand which will continue to be investment banking, mutual funds, unit trusts, bond and equity trading, currency trading etc," said co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of Proven Management Limited (PML) Christopher Williams at an investor briefing held in February. Proven Management Limited is the investment manager of Proven Group Limited.

Proven originally raised US$20 million in a private placement in February 2010 from 150 shareholders, under a focus of carry trade. At the end of its 2022 financial year (FY) it had US$1.14 billion ($175.31 billion) in total assets, US$167.02 million in capital, and nearly 10,000 shareholders. It currently has nine entities across nine countries with a focus on being a diversified private equity and real estate platform.

With the three acquisitions completed in the last FY, Proven has focused on its three pillars of banking and wealth led by Johann Heaven, real estate led by Aisha Campbell, and portfolio holdings led by Nerisha Farquharson.

After a net loss of US$800,000 in the 2022 FY and varying results during the pandemic for International Financial Planning Limited (IFP), Proven has recruited former CEO of NCB Capital Markets (Barbados) Limited Simona Watkis as the new CEO for the entity, to chart a profitable way forward. On LinkedIn, Watkis referred to IFP as Proven Wealth (Cayman) Limited. Proven also recruited Benjamin Freeman as the new president and CEO of Fidelity, effective June 1, after the departure of veteran CEO Brett Hill who spent nearly 30 years at the bank. Mark Gumpright was the former CEO of IFP which is based in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands. The Proven Bank and Proven Wealth brands have become the two established Proven brands for the financial services arm of the company.

Proven is also preparing for the eventual retirement of Board Chairman Hugh Hart, who is 92, and John Collins who is in his 80s. Yvor Nassief resigned as a director on January 31 for personal reasons. As part of the governance focus, Proven added Anya Chow Chung, Neycha Soodeen and Dr John Paul Clarke on February 10 as independent directors. Except for Hart and co-founder Garfield Sinclair, all other Proven Group Limited directors are independent.

"We think that a company as widely held as Proven should be driven and governed by a group of independent, widely exposed individuals. So, we had established a subcommittee about two years ago and that subcommittee went on a path of looking for gender balance, geographically balanced individuals. We're happy that we've added two females and a male to the board," Williams added.

The company is currently completing the delivery of titles and units on its Braemar and César projects in Kingston, which will add to the profitability of the group once the transactions are completed. Proven added 12 Chelsea Avenue to its property portfolio in its third quarter (October to December 2021), which forms one of its rental/leased properties such as the Portmore Pines Plaza and a property at Newport West.

"We continue to look for rental projects right across the region. What we found is that it's difficult to get the rental projects on the secondary market so we're going to have to develop a lot of the rental projects. We're going to identify the location, buy the land, build it and then rent it — because if you try to buy the finished product on the secondary market you're not going to get a good yield," Williams explained.

Williams said that Proven currently had seven projects ongoing in Jamaica. As such, it recently partnered with Infinity Capital Partners to develop a business complex in the Cayman Islands for US$3.2 million. It is also looking at Barbados's villa market and other hospitality, residential and commercial real estate projects. Its Sol Harbour project on Milford Road, St Ann, which is scheduled for a September 2024 completion, has seen the number of studios increase from 140 to 144 units, with the 12 two-bedrooms remaining.

Heritage Education Funds International Inc's board has been changed following the acquisition in October 2021. Sinclair is the new chairman while Williams, Heaven, Richard Gordon, and five other Proven-affiliated directors make up the rest of the board. Heritage contributed US$1.38 million in revenue and US$173,000 in the last two quarters for PGL, after being acquired.

"Our footprint in The Bahamas is strong because of the strength of the Heritage brand in The Bahamas and, of course, in Jamaica. We want you to come along with us, believe in us, and feel as energised as we do about the future for Proven Investments Limited," Williams closed.

Proven's Sol Harbour project in St Ann has expanded from 140 to 144 studio units. The number of two-bedroom units remains at 12.

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