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Pan-Jam acquires 20% of Chukka Caribbean

Published:Friday | May 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Tourists enjoying the facilities operated by Chukka Cove in St Ann. - FILE

Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust on Thursday announced the acquisition of a 20 per cent shareholding in the Melville family-owned Chukka Caribbean Adven-tures, aimed at financing the expansion of the tour company.

The purchase price was not disclosed.

"Chukka is a perfect fit for our strategy of investing in companies that demonstrate remarkable growth potential. What makes this an exciting opportunity is that not only is Chukka a leader in tourism in the region, but our companies also share similar values and priorities," said Pan-Jam chairman Maurice Facey in the press release announcing the acquisition.

"We are looking forward to being part of the future of an important Caribbean success story," he said.

Calls to Chukka and Pan-Jam were not returned.

The deal will essentially increase the number of Pan Jam's associates or joint ventures to 11, including its stake in Mavis Bank Coffee Factory acquired in partnership with Jamaica Producers Group last year. Pan-Jam CEO Stephen Facey and CFO Paul Hanworth will both join Chukka Caribbean's board of directors.

Pan-Jam made J$506.6 million net profit for its March quarter, up 5.8 per cent over year-earlier levels. More than half its profit came from its joint venture and associated companies such as Sagicor Life Jamaica in which it has a 24.8 per cent stake.

Other primary associates include 25 per cent interest in New Castle Company Limited, owners of Walkerswood and Busha Browne; 50 per cent interest in Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited; and a 20 per cent interest in Hardware & Lumber Limited.

Chukka Caribbean Adventures which operates in Jamaica, Belize and Turks and Caicos, offers over 50 tours to cruise and hotel guests.

"It is with great pleasure that we welcome Pan-Jamaican as an equity investor," said Danny Melville, Chairman of Chukka Caribbean, in the press release.

"We have aggressive growth plans and this investment, along with our combined experience, will allow Chukka to seize new opportunities by expanding our product and locations. Our new brand strategy and the newly launched divisions of Active Adventures, Culture and Leisure, and Team Building, will place us on mark to achieve our goals."

Founded in 1983, Chukka delivered over 400,000 adventure tours to cruise and hotel guests in 2011.

The company has received numerous awards, including the Porthole Cruise Magazine Best Caribbean Tour Operator 2011 and 2012, as well as the World Travel Award as the 'Caribbean's Leading Tour Company' for the fifth consecutive year. Chukka was also named National Champion at the 2011 Jamaica Tourism Service Excellence Awards.