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PanJam takes equity stake in Regus franchise operator

Published:Monday | October 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Mark Linehan, co-founder and managing director of Williams Offices (Caribbean) Limited.
Stephen Facey, chairman and CEO of PanJam Investment Limited.

Real estate and investment conglomerate PanJam Investment Limited has acquired a 25 per cent stake in Williams Offices (Caribbean) Limited, which operates the Regus franchise in the Caribbean.

PanJam remained in negotiations for months in an attempt to get a stake in the short-term office rental firm.

The size of the investment was not disclosed. Williams Offices was established in Barbados in 2015 with a mandate to license and operate the Regus brand and business model in a number of Caribbean countries. It's co-founded by a former head of Digicel Jamaica, Mark Linehan.

Jamaica becomes the third country location for Regus in the Caribbean. Williams Offices opened its first Regus Business Centre in June 2016 in Barbados. In March 2017, the second centre followed in Trinidad & Tobago.

The company will officially launch later this month. It is located on the ninth floor of the PanJam building in New Kingston with future plans to expand to other locations, fuelled by demand.

Regus provides flexible office rental rooms in over 1,500 business centres globally and has been in operation for more than two decades. It's based in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is part of the IWG group of Switzerland.

The size of the virtual office market in Jamaica is unknown, but Regus' entry signals that it has growth potential. Regus appears to be the first foreign company to enter the market locally, joining local operators such as Hub Co-Working, which provides corporate and communal work spaces; and forerunners The Business District, founded by partners Maria Jones and Monica Fyffe-Campbell.

Earlier this year, The Business District, in search of additional revenue, added a new unit called The District Square as co-working space for young entrepreneurs and professionals.

"Flexible working spaces are rapidly gaining popularity around the world and we look forward to bringing these cutting-edge practices to Jamaica," said Linehan, the managing director and co-founder of Williams Offices, in a release on the PanJam acquisition. "Our aim with Regus is to provide businesses with an environment that allows them to focus on what they do best. We look after the rest," he said.

"This partnership will allow us grow faster throughout the Caribbean," added chairman of Williams Offices, Ralph 'Bizzy' Williams.