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JMMB Bank already weighing expansion ... Grows commercial bank sector to eight

Published:Monday | August 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Jerome Samlling, CEO of JMMB Bank Jamaica Limited, formerly JMMB Merchant Bank Limited.

JMMB Group Limited has realised its yearslong ambition of owning a commercial bank in its home market.

On Monday, its merchant banking subsidiary acquired in 2012 was rebranded JMMB Bank Jamaica as the financial conglomerate, with a new licence in hand, announced its entry into the commercial banking market. It already operates a commercial bank in Trinidad.

JMMB Bank, which continues to by headed by CEO Jerome Smalling, takes the number seven slot in a market that now has eight players, with assets totalling around $36 billion, based on central bank data for the March quarter. The sector now values nearly $1.27 trillion as a result.

Concurrently, JMMB's migration has shrunk the merchant banking sector to one player, MF&G Trust & Merchant Bank, valued at $1.87 billion.

JMMB Group, which released its financial results for the June quarter after market closed on Monday, reported that a 21 per cent spike in operating expenses was partly linked to preparations to launch the operations of JMMB Bank. The group spent half-billion dollars more, pushing its operations bill to $3.1 billion, but it still squeezed out higher profits in the quarter of $613 million, compared with $593 million at June 2016.

The commercial bank has branches in three urban centres - Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. Banking services will also now be offered in Portmore and Mandeville, and more branches will be rolled out over time, JMMB said on Monday.

Smalling said JMMB Bank was "actively pursuing expansion in a bid to extend its commercial banking footprint and better serve its client base", but offered no details of the bank's programme.


Upgraded online banking platform


Investments in the bank's operation already include an upgraded online banking platform called JMMB Bank Moneyline.

JMMB Merchant Bank at year ended March 2017 made $851 million in net profit, which JMMB Group said reflected 81 per cent annual growth at the bottom line.

Its loan portfolio grew 56 per cent to $6.9 billion, positioning it at number seven in the loans market; while its deposits amount to $4 billion.

JMMB Group first made a try at a commercial banking licence in 2008, but was turned down. It made another try after acquiring the Capital & Credit Financial Group, whose merchant bank subsidiary was the star of that operation. The Bank of Jamaica gave its nod to a commercial banking licence for JMMB last year.