Tue | Aug 14, 2018

itelbpo acquires American company, expanding in Montego Bay

Published:Wednesday | February 7, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Yoni Epstein, CEO of itelbpo smart solutions.
Yoni Epstein, CEO of itelbpo smart solutions.
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Yoni Epstein, CEO of itelbpo smart solutions, said Monday that the acquisition of American company Granada Corporation will immediately boost his business by nearly a third.

The deal for 100 per cent ownership is itelbpo's first direct foreign acquisition. The transaction was finalised last December 29, but only announced this week.

Granada, which is based in California, provides customer support services and is described as a bilingual outsourcing company with a work-from-home delivery model. It operates in the US and Mexico.

Meantime, Epstein is also adding 56,000 square feet to itelbpo's call centre at Freeport House in Montego Bay, which will more than double its current size of 40,000 square feet.

"We have already broken ground and this space will be ready in October 2018," he said.

Epstein declined to disclose the size of the investments overseas and at home, but told the Financial Gleaner that the company in which he, his wife Lisa and Mark Hart are partners, secured funding for the call centre expansion from the Development Bank of Jamaica, while financing for the Granada acquisition was arranged by GK Capital Management.

The California company will continue to be headed by CEO Felix Serrano.

"The acquisition will increase our overall business by 30 per cent. The investment is justified by the client commitments that we have for 2018. We will be adding 800 new jobs in Jamaica for 2018 and 200 jobs in the US. This growth will put our company to over 2,000 employees," he said.

It will also expand itelbpo's services to the retail and insurance markets, according to a release from the company.

Epstein, who is in the process of integrating the Granada operations with itelbpo, says he will not be retaining the brand of the American company. The integration is expected to be finalised by April.

"Our intention is to expand this model initially in the US as we feel it's a true disruptor in the BPO space, and have a few new clients already lined up. We are also currently getting information on several countries in order to decide where we put our focus as we scale this division of our company," he said.

Granada is Epstein's second foreign transaction in two years. In early 2016, he led a consortium of local and overseas-based investors to acquire an 85 per cent stake in a Florida-based online company, CarRental8.com, for an undisclosed sum. He declined to comment on the ownership structure of the car rental operation, saying only that his group held the majority stake, and that itelbpo itself was not an investor in it.

CarRental8.com offers car rental services in 125 countries, serving 17,000 locations. The site allows customers to book and compare prices from several rental car agencies online, including Hertz, Sixt, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Budget, Europcar and Fox Rent A Car, for domestic and international travel.

In an update, Epstein said Monday that CarRental8.com was "a strategic move, given that they were a client and we had the expertise".

itelbpo was launched in 2012 with seven employees, but has grown to a workforce of more than 1,000. It has offices in Jamaica, The Bahamas and Florida, and is reputed to be the largest locally owned business process outsourcing company in Jamaica, in an industry comprising 50 companies and 26,000 employees.

The company's largely inbound contact centre services include business lines in retail, tourism and insurance, and non-traditional contact centre services, such as digital marketing.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com