Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Proven has investments lined up but searching for more

Published:Friday | July 29, 2016 | 7:00 AMSteven Jackson
Proven CEO Christopher Williams

Investment outfit Proven plans to inject a minimum of US$15 million in three regional private equity deals this financial year.

The company also said it acquired a two-acre property in Millsborough, St Andrew, from the British High Commission, where it plans to build up to seven luxury homes for its third real estate venture.

Two of the private equity opportunities are in Haiti and the third in the Eastern Caribbean.

"We have to hustle. It is work time and we have to demonstrate performance for our shareholders," said Proven CEO Christopher Williams.

The company will partially finance the equity investments by tapping its US$8 million in cash holdings and US$130 million of investments held for sale.

"We have enough money. I am not worried about money. What I need is deals," he said.

Williams explained that Proven holds roughly US$294 million in "available investments for sale" as assets, with client liabilities at US$164 million. The remainder provides Proven with an acquisition war-chest.

Two of the ventures identified for investment are in the financial sector and the third is in energy. Proven will hold a minimum 20 per cent stake in each venture.

"The sweet spot is US$5 million for real sector and US$10 to US$15 million for financial services," he said about the size of the investments Proven wants to make in the targets it identifies going forward. "Our strategy is that we are a minority player in the real sector and for financial sector investments, we are a majority player," he said.

Earlier this year, Proven announced that it would also seek out smaller investments aimed at local start-ups. It would allow them the opportunity to provide venture capital funding in a series of businesses. No deals emerged from that venture.

"We have officially moved away from the VC space," he admitted, arguing that the firms that pitched were at varying degrees of unreadiness.

Proven Investments Limited will shortly release its quarterly financials with expectations that it will reflect one of its best financial performances to date. It comes from a less-than-stellar performance in the last quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016 due to global bond price volatility.

"So our investment revaluation reserves recovered and our investment portfolio is looking a lot stronger," said Williams.

During the quarter, shareholders Peter Bunting and Senator Mark Golding returned to take a more hands-on role in Proven following the defeat of their political party at the February general election. Both men were ministers and Cabinet members in the former administration.

"We think that the results demonstrate a stronger team, and we are very happy to have them back," Williams said.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com