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GK paying $1.1b for SIECL, Wehby takes the chair

Published:Wednesday | November 17, 2021 | 12:08 AM
Don Wehby, GraceKennedy CEO and new chairman of GK Life Insurance Eastern Caribbean.
Don Wehby, GraceKennedy CEO and new chairman of GK Life Insurance Eastern Caribbean.

Food and financial conglomerate GraceKennedy Limited has paid over $637.7 million for the acquisition of Scotia Insurance Eastern Caribbean Limited, SIECL, but has a second payment of $476 million to meet next October.

The disclosure of the payments, amounting to more than $1.1 billion, comes at the completion of the deal on July 31. The acquisition is being financed from a bond issued by GK in April.

GraceKennedy has since renamed the business, which is now known as GK Life Insurance Eastern Caribbean Limited, to fit with its brand; while Group CEO Don Wehby has assumed the chairmanship. The company operates in various markets, but only two of them, Anguilla and St Kitts-Nevis, will be new markets for the GraceKennedy group.

GK Life’s first board meeting with GraceKennedy as the parent company is slated for Thursday, November 18.

“The general manager will be presenting the strategy for 2022 and beyond and the budget for approval. So I’m looking forward to that,” Wehby told the Financial Gleaner.

GK Life IEC operates under GraceKennedy Financial Group Limited, GKFG, which already incorporates several insurance businesses, the most recent of which was Key Insurance.

The conglomerate, which has more than 50 member companies that operate in markets worldwide, disclosed the price of the SIECL acquisition for the first time in its newly third quarter earnings report.

GraceKennedy, which will celebrate its centenary in less than a year, grew revenue over nine months by 12 per cent to $92.3 billion, with the largest contributors being GK’s food trading and insurance businesses, which produced revenue of $75.3 billion and $9.1 billion, respectively.

GK Life offers credit protection on personal loans, residential mortgages, personal lines of credit, and personal and small business credit cards. GraceKennedy hopes to form strategic partnerships with a bank or banks in the region, through GK Life, but is yet to lay out the strategy to be pursued and its goals.

“After the meeting we should be able to share some high-level details,” Wehby said.

Domiciled in St Lucia, GK Life is licensed to conduct ordinary long-term insurance and personal accident insurance. Outside of Anguilla and St Kitts and Nevis, the company currently conducts creditor life insurance business within Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, all territories in which GK Limited already operates through subsidiaries GK General Insurance and GK Insurance (Eastern Caribbean) Limited.

The addition of GK Life IEC to the group brings the number of GK-owned insurances businesses to six, the others being life and health insurer Canopy Limited; general insurers Key Insurance, GK General in Jamaica; GK Insurance Eastern Caribbean; and brokerage Allied Insurance Brokers. Canopy is a joint venture with the Musson Jamaica Group.