Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Marlie Tech Park investor gets backing from Sagicor

Published:Sunday | June 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
Valrie Grant, CEO of Marlie Technology Park, opens the door to the newly acquired facility for the 68-acre project.
Facility Manager Brian Grant and CEO Valrie Grant stand on the site to be developed into the Marlie Technology Park, at Marlie Mount in St Catherine.

A large 68-acre complex at Old Harbour, St Catherine, will be the home base for a tech park complex to be developed by GeoTechVision Enterprises Limited, a company owned by Valrie Grant.

Sagicor Investments Jamaica Limited, through its managed funds, has invested US$3 million in the venture called Marlie Technology Park Limited, while Sagicor Bank Jamaica is also expected to bankroll the project with a loan, which together amount to nearly one-sixth of the required financing.

Sagicor told the Financial Gleaner that the investment in the project may eventually be converted to equity.

"Listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange is one of the exit options. No definitive date has been set, although initial discussions indicate it's by the end of 2019," parent company Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited said via email.

Grant, the managing director of GeoTechVision Enterprises, says the tech park will be the first development on the site, but that she eventually hopes to establish a 100-room hotel and small scale manufacturing on the 68-acre property located in the district called Marlie Mount.

Grant, who is also CEO of Marlie Tech Park, said the project's first phase will begin with 300 seats to be finalised by September. The facility will be built out to a 3,500-seat BPO operation and training centre, eventually. It includes the upgrading of an already existing 2,000-seat conference hall and office complex.

Sagicor said its investment in the project is through a special purpose vehicle called IQ Park Limited, which was incorporated for the purpose of owning the land. Sagicor Investments Jamaica holds 60 per cent of IQ Park and three board seats.

"IQ Park Limited will own the property and lease same to Marlie Technology Park Limited," the company said.

"Sagicor Investments will invest US$3 million and Sagicor Bank will provide a loan of US$1.9 million to assist with acquiring the property. Sagicor Bank will continue to be the financial partner for Marlie Tech for further build out and acquisition," said Sagicor Group.

Sagicor said it has the option of converting its investment in IQ Park into a stake in Marlie Park, subject to an initial public offering of Marlie Tech shares via the Jamaica Stock Exchange. That, however, assumes that GeoTechVision completes the tech park project and the company attains operational viable, the financial company said.

The land for the tech park development was acquired from the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Grant said the total investment cost in the project is estimated at US$30 million. The source of the other funds was not disclosed. She confirmed that Marlie Technology Park Limited would seek to list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, saying it would allow for wider investment participation.

"Marlie Technology Park is owned entirely by Jamaicans ... ," said the Marlie Tech Park CEO. "This park will focus on the development of ground breaking tech transfer and facilitate international collaborations," she said.

Meanwhile, Marlie Tech is already hunting clients for the tech park. "The final contractual agreements will be developed later this year," Grant said.