Fri | Nov 24, 2017

Barita names buyer to dispel rumour

Published:Wednesday | September 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Ian McNaughton, managing director of Barita Investments Limited.

Barita Investments Limited initially planned to release the name of the prospective buyer in October, but named its suitor on Tuesday instead, to end the speculation around the takeover.

On Tuesday, Barita advised that it received an offer from Cornerstone United Holdings Jamaica Limited to purchase majority shareholdings in the company.

"The release was to ensure that the rumours are dispelled. There was also a media report which called the name, and we thought rather than have the rumours persist, we would just release the name," Barita managing director Ian McNaughton told Gleaner Business.

McNaughton added that negotiations continue and that nothing otherwise has changed.

Last week, Barita founder Rita Humphries-Lewin went only as far as saying the bidder was a non-competing local entity.

Cornerstone is a nascent company incorporated on April 1, 2015, whose players include chairman Mark Myers of Restaurants of Jamaica; Arnold Aiken of Tank Weld Group; Paul Simpson, managing director and founder of Cornerstone, and 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 on Tuesday. His company already has at least one acquisition under its belt the merchant banking outfit MF&G Trust and Finance Limited, which it bought last year Merban Limited and Levas Limited, both of which affiliated with the law firm Myers, Fletcher & Gordon.

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

The price and the details of the sale will be released in October, Humphries-Lewin said last week. The initial plan was to release the name of the buyer following the completion of Barita'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. She holds 76 per cent of the company, which is Jamaica's oldest stockbrokerage, Barita Investments.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com

A version of this story first appeared online on Tuesday at: jamaica-gleaner.com/business