Fri | Nov 24, 2017

GWest to float $400m IPO - To build out medical centre in Montego Bay

Published:Sunday | October 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMHuntley Medley
Dr Konrad Kirlew and MRI technologist Kemala Medley review a brain study called tractography.
The GWest medical centre in Montego Bay.
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Having spent $1.5 billion to bring the GWest building in Montego Bay to the property market in February last year, the owner, GWest Corporation Limited, is now set to raise some $400 million from an initial public offering (IPO).

The IPO will offer 30 per cent of the company up for sale through the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).

Two-thirds of the 60,000 square-foot multipurpose building on four levels is earmarked for various medical services, some of which are up and running.

Montego Bay radiologist Dr Konrad Kirlew, who is chairman and managing director of GWest Corporation, told Gleaner Business that the IPO is expected to go to market by the end of next month, or next January if the first deadline is missed. The offer is being arranged by JMMB Securities.

Having already retired $500 million of an initial $850-million loan from National Commercial Bank, the business is carrying a $350-million mortgage. The remainder of the start-up capital was provided by investors, including Kirlew; facial and dental surgeon Dr Ladi DoonQuah; business development executive, chartered accountant and managing director of Bull Investments Limited, Wayne Gentles; owners of Cornwall Medical and Dental Supplies, Dennis and Denise Samuels; and senior vice-president for finance at the Port Authority of Jamaica, Elva Williams-Richards.

Kirlew owns 30 per cent of the business through two vehicles - Radiology West, 20 per cent and North Coast Imaging, 10 per cent. The Samuelses are also 30 per cent owners, DoonQuah is a 20 per cent partner and Gentles' Bull Investments and Williams-Richards each have a 10 per cent stake.

 

URGENT CARE CENTRE

 

The capital to be raised from the stock market is expected to be applied towards the build-out of phase two of the complex. The company is adding a surgery and eight-bed overnight centre that will come on stream next year. An urgent care centre is to be opened in about two weeks and the finishing touches are being made to a pharmacy to be operated by GWest investors Dennis and Denise Samuels. A laboratory is also scheduled to be opened in about six weeks.

GWest has been on the drawing board from around 2009 when the land was bought. Ground was broken for construction to begin in 2014.

Already the building houses the second location of Kirlew's Radiology West imaging practice, Dr DoonQuah's Facial and Oral Surgery Associates, Zierlich International Dialysis Centre operated by UK-trained dialysis practitioner and Jamaican businesswoman Dainty Powell, the Heart Smart Centre operated by cardiologist Dr Claudine Lewis, the GWest General Medical Practice suite for resident and visiting doctors, and North Coast Imaging offering MRI services.

It also offers non-medical office space and Bull Investments and an insurance brokerage, among other service providers, have set up shop there.

Making use of modern technology, the building has a 100-vehicle underground parking garage where the oxygen level is monitored and replenished as necessary.

Kirlew likes to think of the GWest commercial complex as a one-stop shop for medical and other services. The local heath tourism markets are being targeted to utilise the available services and drive the additional take up of units, thus ensuring a good return on investments for the individual unit owners, operators and the GWest Corporation investors.

With roughly half of the 37 units in the multistorey property initially earmarked for sale, all those spaces have been sold and only seven units are left for leasing at US$20 per square foot plus maintenance charge of US$4 per square foot. GWest is now shopping for a chief executive officer to take over the day-to-day real estate operations, giving Kirlew more time to concentrate on his executive responsibilities and managing his imaging businesses.

The GWest building, with its ultra-modern look, glass panelled elevators and 360-degree panoramic view of Montego Bay, was designed by architects Harold Morrison & Robert Woodstock Associates, who are known for the work on several new buildings at the UWI, Mona, campus and NCB Half Way-Tree in Kingston, and Baywest Centre in Montego Bay.

The GWest operators are partnering with Baptist Health South Florida to build out its medical facilities to international health standards and certification.

Kirlew says the vision of the development grew out of a desire to build in western Jamaica a medical facility that rivals the high standards of healthcare plants, equipment and service delivery available in first world countries. He is optimistic about the future of the business, citing the need among Jamaicans and tourists for the types of services being housed at GWest.

"Part of it is 'build the facilities and the people will come'," the medical entrepreneur said.

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