Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Cornerstone seeking to acquire Barita

Published:Tuesday | September 12, 2017 | 2:43 PMSteven Jackson

Barita Investments Limited advised today that the company has received an offer from financial services outfit, Cornerstone United Holdings Jamaica Limited, to purchase majority shareholding of the company. 

It confirms earlier reports that a non-competing local entity would seek to acquire the firm.

The board of Cornerstone incorporated on April 1, 2015 included chairman Mark Myers of Restaurants of Jamaica; Arnold Aiken of Tank Weld Group; Paul Simpson, managing director and founder of Cornerstone, formerly of Proven; Nigel Chen-See of National Supply Company, and James Godfrey of S&G Limestone.

Simpson made no comment on the proposed acquisition.

Cornerstone acquired the merchant banking outfit MF&G Trust and Finance Limited last year. Cornerstone United Holdings Jamaica Limited got the nod to buy a majority stake in MF&G Trust from Merban Limited and Levas Limited. Merban and Levas are affiliated with the law firm Myers, Fletcher & Gordon. 

Last week, Barita founder Rita Humphries-Lewin indicated that one of the terms and conditions of the acquisition would include keeping the business as a going concern rather than carving up its operations. 

Barita Investments Limited is a primary dealer and a cambio dealer operating with a staff of more than 80 from offices in New Kingston, Mandeville and Montego Bay. 

Barita is celebrating its 40th anniversary and marked the occasion last week with Lewin ceremoniously ringing the bell at the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).

The price and the details of the sale will be released in October. Humphries-Lewin will make the disclosure following the completion of the company's anniversary celebrations and the release of its September year end financials.

Humphries-Lewin said the buyer will seek to acquire all Barita shares in one sitting, rather than an initial acquisition of Humphries-Lewin's shares followed by a separate offer to minority shareholders. The company trades on the stock market under the symbol BIL.

Humphries-Lewin holds76 per cent of Barita Investments.

She previously said she expects to stay on at Barita through its transition to the new owners, but will then retire from the financial sector after five decades. She will continue in business, however, as a housing developer. She has already built three homes.

Humphries-Lewin founded Barita in 1977 and remains its chairman. Although it is Jamaica's oldest stock brokerage, the company itself did not list on the JSE until 2010. 

- steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com