Guardian Holdings to be Bought by Jamaican Bank

Guardian Holdings Ltd (GHL) has been notified by the National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd (NCBJ) that NCBJ has agreed to purchase 29.9% stake in GHL.

This transaction is a momentous event in the financial services sector in the Caribbean, as GHL is the leading insurer across the region and holds leading positions in Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, while NCBJ, one of the largest banks in the Caribbean, is the top banking and financial services group in Jamaica, with interests in the wider Caribbean.

According to Guardian Group CEO Ravi Tewari “The alignment of NCBJ and GHL is a very positive development and holds great opportunity for our shareholders, our clients and our employees.” Mr Tewari indicated that “With its sterling reputation for financial strength, growth and customer service, in the banking space, NCBJ mirrors Guardian Group in the insurance space.”

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“The Alignment of NCBJ and GHL is a very positive development.”

These sentiments were echoed by NCBJ Group Managing Director Mr Patrick Hylton, who added “This relationship between two on the largest financial services organisations in the Caribbean creates significant opportunities for growth. NCBJ’s mindset as a shareholder is to buy, hold and prosper, which is a perfect match for the long-view held by Guardian Group, necessary to operate in the insurance landscape. NCBJ would also bring a great deal of new investment opportunities for Guardian’s asset book.”

This will be achieved through a private sale of part of their shares held by the companies owned by Lok Jack and Ahamed families and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank.

For a number of years, the largest shareholders of GHL have been the Lok Jack and Ahamed families. Even though they will sell a portion of their shareholdings to NCBJ they will continue to hold a very significant stake of approximately 22% of GHL. The continued significant shareholding of the Lok Jack and Ahamed families speaks to their confidence in and alignment with the vision and continued growth of the Guardian Group.

GHL Chairman Arthur Lok Jack commented that “Existing shareholders have contributed significantly to the growth of the Guardian Group. IFC was clear from the onset that they will deserve and exit in a roughly seven-year horizon as this is their business philosophy. I am very happy that we have achieved a regional solution. In the process we have replaced shareholders desiring exits with shareholders who are eager to support the growth and expansion on the Guardian Group.”

Mr Arthur Lok Jack will continue as Chairman of GHL and the majority of the board will continue to be independent directors. Chairman Lok Jack highlighted that “For several years we saw significant net Foreign Direct Investment flows mainly from Trinidad and Tobago to Jamaica. In this instance, there will be a notable reversal of that trend with the leading Jamaican financial institution taking a major stake in the economy of Trinidad and Tobago through the leading insurance and financial services group – Guardian Group. This augurs well for the future strength and stability of both organisations, all stakeholders and Trinidad and Tobago / Jamaica relations.”

The successful completion of this transaction is subject to all necessary regulatory approvals in Trinidad and Tobago as well as in Jamaica.

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