Main market-listed company 138 Student Living Jamaica Limited (138SL) on Monday received approval from its shareholders to raise new capital through an additional public offering (APO).
During an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, shareholders passed resolutions for the company to increase the company's cap on 480.5 million ordinary shares and 94.5 million cumulative preference shares to an unlimited amount. With it the shareholders also approved a resolution to issue 775 million shares through the APO.
Subsequent to the APO the company's issued capital will increase to 1.350 billion.
Pointing to the challenges the company faced during the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic, chairman of 138SL Ian Parsard pointed out to shareholders, prior to tabling the resolutions, that the reason for considering a capital raise is to "shore up" the company's capital structure.
Since 2015, 138SL has provided accommodations at The University of West Indies, Mona, (The UWI) under a public-private partnership agreement it has with the institution to finance, build, and operate student housing. The company also provides catering, maintenance and housekeeping services.
The company's net profit fell from $316.78 million in 2020 to $244.56 million — on account of a 35 per cent dip in revenue.
During this time of the heightened COVID-19 pandemic 138SL saw occupancy levels fall to around 20 per cent as foreign and rural students moved off-campus and conducted studies online. As a result, the company engaged in short-term rental of accommodations and provided storage, Parsard told Jamaica Observer following the EGM.
Now, with the capital raise approved the company will also be seeking to reduce its debt.
"…during that COVID period we did have to go through a restructuring exercise with some of our loan note-holders. And having done that process, looking at the obligations that we have coming up, the directors do not think it is wise to be able to go back to for a second round of restructuring of those loan note," Parsard explained.
"I can tell you quite frankly: Some of the note-holders do want to get the repayment because they probable have other obligations that's pending on their side," he continued, adding that 138SL has engaged the services of GK Capital as advisors.
Additionally, Parsard noted that another round of raising capital "set the platform for consistent and increased dividends", with the aim of increasing payouts over time from 20 per cent of profits to as much as 50 per cent.
Moreover, he said that the capital raise will also support the company taking advantage of future growth opportunities.
When the Business Observer enquired about what opportunities 138SL will be exploring, CEO Cranston Ewan noted that there is capacity at The UWI to construct additional accommodations, especially with the building now at 90 per cent occupancy.
"We want to make sure that 138[SL] is on a solid footing and that we can return the benefits to the shareholders but definitely, we are open to whatever opportunities [arise]. There were opportunities that we looked at before COVID," the CEO said, stopping short divulging any other information.
However, when pressed, he said there are also opportunities outside Jamaica. Adding to this, Parsard also highlighted a possible opportunity to partner with the Government of Jamaica.
The chairman used the EGM to also address concerns about the dilution of shares as a result of a capital raise. To this end, he encouraged shareholders to look at the more positive perspective.
"Having gone through the challenges of COVID [and] having come out I'm now hopefully looking at what is going to be a much brighter side as we continue the operations of 138[SL]. When you look at the current value of the share of 138[SL], this provides an opportunity for shareholders to actually own more of the company — and given where the price is at, our feeling is that it's a real bargain…Those are the main reasons why we're looking to set the foundation for a capital raise," Parsard outlined.
On this note, when asked by a shareholder why the company had chosen to go with an APO instead of a rights issue, Parsard said the company believes enlisting new shareholders will have a positive impact on the business; however, this will not exclude existing shareholders from participating.
Furthermore, in response to another question, he said the board and management of 138SL will consider "a special price" for existing shareholders when the APO is floated.
- We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
- Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
- We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
- Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
- Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: email@example.com.