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Hyperion Equity to acquire stake in SSL

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2019 | 12:00 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter
Zachary Harding

Hyperion Equity Inc, a firm formed by Zachary Harding, has announced plans to acquire a minority stake in SSL Growth Equity Limited (Barbados), the parent company of Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL Jamaica).

A Belize registered international business company, Hyperion Equity, is focused on ­investing in biometric research, media, fintech, entertainment and traffic management.

The company was launched in 2012 and has grown into a middle market focused private equity firm. Its acquisition of a stake in SSL Growth Equity will allow the company to provide a full range of financial and investment services.

In line with the planned acquisition, Harding has been appointed as group chief executive officer with responsibility for SSL Growth Equity, SSL (Jamaica) and SSL Venture Capital Jamaica Limited.

Hugh Croskery, the father of former chairman and CEO of SSL Venture Capital Jamaica Limited, Mark Croskery, will continue to serve as chairman of the SSL Group with investor John Bailey.

“SSL is one of the most well-known wealth management and stock brokerage firms in the region with an impeccable reputation of providing premium financial services for its client base of over 6,000 investors. The original company has been a member of the Jamaica Stock Exchange since 1977 and was the­ ­second brokerage firm set up in Jamaica,” Harding said in a statement obtained by the Financial Gleaner.

“Under the keen stewardship of Hugh Croskery, SSL became a highly respected and trusted name in the financial industry. When the opportunity presented itself to become a part of this company, I knew it was the right decision for Hyperion and I look forward to leading a team of highly qualified people, providing a full range of financial and investment services,” he continued.

SSL also announced the promotion of chief financial officer, Allison Hemmings, to the position of group chief financial officer with ­responsibility for all companies. Veteran banker Jeffrey Cobham will transition from executive chairman to non-executive chairman of the board of SSL and will continue to support the company as a consultant on a one-year contract. Cobham remains as the responsible officer for the company to the Jamaica Stock Exchange and the Financial Services Commission.

While continuing in his role as CEO of SSL Asset Management (Cayman) Limited, Rajat Khanna will be appointed to the board of SSL Growth Equity with an eye on expanding the wealth management arm of the business to Canada and the UK. Jonathan Khoury remains as general Mmanager of SSL.

Details of the number of shares to be acquired in SSL Growth Equity is still unclear. However, Harding said the deal is expected to be completed over the next two months.

The subsidiaries of SSL Growth Equity include SSL Asset Management Limited (Cayman); Dolla Financial Services Limited; SSL Capital (Cayman) Limited; SSL REIT Investors Limited (St Lucia) and its Jamaican subsidiary; and SSL (Jamaica) and its subsidiary, SSL Venture Capital Jamaica Limited.

Hyperion’s acquisition of a stake in SSL Growth Equity, along with Harding’s responsibility to oversee the operation of SSL Venture Capital Jamaica Limited, comes at a time when SSL Venture Capital itself is going through changes.

Aside from having its shares suspended on the Jamaica Stock Exchange twice – the latter of which was mandated by the JSE for breaches of the junior market rules – SSL Ventures is also moving to have management and structural changes in one of its investments holding companies, Muse 360 Integrated, ratified by its board, following the resignation of the investment holding’s CEO and founder, André Burnett.

“The mission right now will be to stabilise the ship after a series of recent changes, and then to plot a clear path to success over the next 12 to 18n months,” Harding said.

“It’s not a secret that SSL Ventures financials have been going through some revision. The audited financials are now complete and they will be filed at the end of this month, and we are expecting that there will be an unqualified audit showing a loss. One of the first order of business will be to look at the venture capital companies and to see how we can reverse that position,” he continued.

SSL Ventures was formed from a reverse takeover of failed music publishing outfit C2W Music Limited, which allowed the listed junior market company to restructure as a venture capital investor. The company began trading in August 2018 and subsequently announced investments in Bar Central, Muse 360 and Blue Dot.

On August 9, SSL Ventures also announced plans to acquire an associate stake of 20 per cent in Alpha Imaging Limited, which intends to set up a US$3 million (J$405 million) radiology office at Tangerine Place in Kingston. Days before that Bluedot Data took on a new investor, businessman Craig Hendrickson, at a higher valuation of US$1.1 million for a 20 per cent share in the company.

All four investment holding transactions were overseen by Mark Croskery with a mandate to realise shareholder returns via an exit through an IPO or private sale. However, efforts by the Financial Gleaner to get a comment from young Croskery on the changes in the company were unsuccessful up to press time.

“I have known Zachary for over 30 years, and I have always been impressed by his solid reputation for strong management, strategic leadership and brand marketing. I have seen him execute successfully as a CEO, marketing director and consultant for companies such as Appliance Traders Limited, Wisynco, Red Stripe, GraceKennedy and National Commercial Bank. We look forward to his visionary leadership as we move the companies in the right direction for the future,” Hugh Croskery, chairman of SSL Growth Equity, said.