Mon | Apr 23, 2018

Wisynco to take over Unilever portfolio

Published:Friday | December 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Chairman of Wisynco Group, William Mahfood.

​Wisynco Group Limited will distribute the frozen and dry food portfolio of Unilever formerly held by Lasco Distributors.

Chairman William Mahfood also announced a three per cent rollback on the prices of imported products distributed by Wisynco as of January 2018 at the company's listing ceremony on the Jamaica Stock Exchange on Thursday.

"Subject to contractual arrangements", Wisynco will distribute Unilever brands that include Red Rose Tea, Flora and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

"It is a substantial portion of business," said Mahfood. "Wisynco will also take over the ice cream business of Unilever and makes us really the strongest retail ice cream distributor with about 90 per cent of all retail ice cream sold in Jamaica," he said.

Lasco disclosed changes in its Unilever contract just ahead of the holidays, but noted it would continue to distribute the Unilever home and personal care range of products, which includes major brands such as Breeze, Comfort, Dove and Axe.

Mahfood said Wisynco has established a distribution system that creates tremendous opportunities for investor growth.

The company sells over 4,000 products through its manufacturing and distribution network. It makes items such as BOOM, Bigga and WATA and bottles Coca-Cola products; and earns around $20 billion in sales per annum.

Wisynco listed 784.5 million share units on the main market at $7.87 per share, and immediately hit the daily limit, with bids surpassing $9.70. The stock closed trading at $9.90.

The JSE listed 12 Jamaican stocks in 2017 which raised over $15 billion from the market, as well as two Bahamian preference stocks. Consequently, there are 95 securities on the JSE, roughly 70 are ordinary shares and the remainder are preference shares and bonds.

"We are trying to aim for 100 securities and we are going to do that by next year. We expect to get to that number before the middle of next year," said JSE Managing Director Marlene Street Forrest.

NCB Capital Markets acted as the lead broker for the Wisynco IPO. The offer garnered more than 8,000 applications totalling over $19 billion, according to NCBCap Assistant Vice-President Herbert Hall.

"Some 2,000 plus new equity investors have come to the market because of you persons who knew nothing about equities but knew that BOOM was coming to the market," Hall quipped. "This is superb by any standard."

Wisynco offered 20 per cent of the company to investors in an initial public offer and raised $6.1 billion in total, which equated to the largest single initial public offer in Jamaica's history.

Wisynco allowed the general public to take up 12.5 per cent of the offer.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com