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GK plan to list overseas alive but low priority

Published:Wednesday | April 3, 2019 | 12:08 AM
Don Wehby, Group CEO of GraceKennedy Limited.
Don Wehby, Group CEO of GraceKennedy Limited.

It has been five years since the initial announcement, but GraceKennedy Limited still plans to list on the London Stock Exchange or other foreign market.

Other events have overtaken the food and financial services conglomerate, which is otherwise executing plans that are meant to deepen its global footprint.

“The truth is, we have a number of competing priorities and focus is the key to execution and success,” said Group CEO Don Wehby on Monday. But: “We will continue to do our due diligence,” he added.

The plan to list in London was first mentioned in 2014 when Wehby, while noting the absence of a unified Caribbean exchange, remarked that London presented the most attractive option for the food and finance services conglomerate.

Back then, a team was formed to look at the company’s options.

Wehby said on Monday that not much progress has been made on the project.

“Last week, I was in New York meeting with investment bankers,” he said, but added that it was “much too early to comment” on what those talks involved.

GraceKennedy is currently listed in its home market Jamaica and on the Trinidad stock exchange. The stock once traded in Barbados but GK chose to exit that market several years ago due to thin trading volumes.

The GK stock is now trading on the Jamaican exchange at $59.52 and at TT$3.30 in Trinidad.

GraceKennedy is more focused on growing market share overseas in line with its centenary targets than offering its shares for trading in foreign markets.

The company aims to become a ‘global consumer group’ that generates 60 per cent of revenue and 50 per cent of profits outside of Jamaica.

In FY2018, the conglomerate generated 47 per cent of its sales from markets outside of Jamaica, while operating profit, including one-off gains, was at 41 per cent.

Wehby adds, however, that the company still has a positive outlook on its prospects for listing abroad, saying the Jamaican economy is doing much better now “and that is a big positive”, as is Bloomberg’s ranking of the Jamaica Stock Exchange as the world’s top-performing market.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com