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RJRGleaner Group buying stake in data analytics firm

Published:Friday | September 10, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Christopher Barnes, chief operating officer of RJRGleaner Group.
File Christopher Barnes, chief operating officer of RJRGleaner Group.

RJRGleaner Communi-cations Group, owner of RJR radio, Television Jamaica and The Gleaner newspaper, is moving into the realm of artificial intelligence, indirectly, via purchase of a 15 per cent equity stake in StarApple Analytics Limited, a start-up data analytics and AI consulting company operating in Jamaica.

The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

The deal being done through subsidiary Media Plus Limited is expected to close within a month, according to a market filing by the media group posted on the stock exchange this week. Media Plus, which is registered offshore in St Lucia, will have two seats on StarApple’s board, once the deal closes.

StarApple, which was founded in December 2019 and incorporated in February 2020, is headed by CEO and sole shareholder Adrian Dunkley.

In a release, RJRGleaner Group said the investment also aligns with its “strategy of building capacity to harness insights from its vast store of market data to buttress business decisions and enhance client offers.”

Chief Operating Officer Christopher Barnes says the involvement in a company like StarApple is an important component of the group’s quest to go digital.

“It is establishing the capacity to exploit the data we have collected and stored across the group to help us design, improve and offer better products and services, as well as increase operating efficiency,” said Barnes, who has been tasked to identify M&A prospects that are accretive and good fits for the group.

Other group investments in recent times include 50 per cent interest in e-commerce business Gustazos, 10 per cent of digital marketer Post Caribbean Limited, and a minor stake in digital real estate app, Keez.

Dunkley, whose expertise is marketing analytics and machine learning and who studied artificial intelligence and client analytics, says StarApple is trying to show companies how to unlock value through data analytics and insights, and to “turn those insights into competitive advantages and tangible returns”.

“The amount and variety of existing and new data generated in the world today are unprecedented. As this growth continues, so do the opportunities for organisations to create value from their data,” he said.

RJRGleaner has seen StarApple’s work up close as a client of the company.

“Access to StarApple’s services has accelerated and enhanced our ability to use the data we have – such as customer and transaction information, in addition to production and others ­– to show behavioural patterns or correlations, the use of which could help us to better service clients, improve plant operations, and so on,” Barnes said.