Sat | Nov 18, 2017

Barry O'Brien teams up with Williams conglomerate in investment outfit

Published:Sunday | July 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Barry O'Brien of Williams Caribbean Capital.

Barry O'Brien, one-time head of Digicel's Jamaica operations, has teamed up with a Barbadian partner in an investment outfit called Williams Caribbean Capital (WCC).

O'Brien, an Irish national who now runs a venture capital outfit called New Caribbean Capital Partners, said that he has formed a joint venture with Williams Industries Group. Another former Digicel executive, Ciaran Burke, is also involved in the venture.

Williams Industries is a Caribbean conglomerate of more than 30 businesses, including building materials company BRC Jamaica Limited, which was founded back in 1982.

The company has diversified interests in construction, manufacturing, information technology, telecoms, and other areas.

The new joint venture, Williams Caribbean Capital, will invest in businesses in the region.

"The strategy of this company is to diversify Williams Industries by looking at opportunities in the Jamaican and other markets, mainly looking at private equity-type positions in investing in other businesses - whether small, medium, or large," O'Brien said.

 

FIRST COMPANY JAMAICAN

 

He signalled that the first company targeted for investment is a Jamaican operation and that an announcement was likely in another two weeks.

"We are in discussions with one particular company, but until a deal is done, a deal is never done, so most of the information has to remain confidential," he said.

WCC will invest for 18-24 months in targeted companies, which means, O'Brien said, that they will be looking at businesses that are already in operation rather than those that are pre-revenue, meaning, start-ups.

"We are looking at companies that have strong business models and potential for growth. The idea is to work with these companies to enable this growth and return value to the shareholders who have invested in it," O'Brien said.

Williams Caribbean Capital will be relying on the substantial reserves of Williams Industries, but he would not say how large a pool of funds was available to WCC for investment nor the amount of funds it was willing to pour into selected companies.

"We haven't put an upper limit on what we could look at, and where an opportunity might be too large for us, we're always willing to talk to other partners. I guess you could pick a figure, but we don't really have an upward number at this stage," O'Brien said.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com