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Island Car Rentals sold

After 50 years of operation, Jamaica’s largest car rental company, Island Car Rentals Limited, now has new owners. The company changed hands nearly two months ago but is only just going public following the recent passing of founder and majority owner Michael Campbell.

Career banker Ryan Parkes and his wife Opal Brown-Parkes are the new owners and Parkes has taken over as CEO. He last served as chief of the corporate and business banking division of JN Bank, a member of the Jamaica National Group.

Island Car Rentals is Jamaica’s leading car rental company with a fleet of nearly 1,500 motor vehicles covering all classes from buses to economy cars. It was formerly 80 per cent owned by Campbell with minority shareholder, Derrick DeMercado, holding the other 20 per cent. Now, all the shares have been acquired by ICR Holdings Investments Limited.

Parkes initially declined to comment on the size of the transaction, as did its financing partner VM Wealth, however in a joint release late yesterday they indicated that the cash and shares deal was worth at least $2.7 billion and included the acquisition of Island Car Rentals and Jamaica Rental Company Limited.

VM Wealth Management Limited, which acted as lead arranger and broker of the financing deal, said the transaction included debt and equity, “with a mix of 70 per cent in bonds and preference shares and 30 per cent in ordinary shares” done via private placement.

ICR Holdings is itself held 100 per cent by East Investments Holdings, which in turn has Opal Brown-Parkes and Ryan Parkes holding 20 per cent and 80 per cent interest, respectively.

“We bought the shares of the companies and its assets; whatever shares were held by the two shareholders were fully acquired,” Parkes said, adding that he had been trying to acquire the company for some time.

“I was close to the late owner for several years and I raised the idea of whether he’d sell and on the last occasion he agreed to do so. We agreed that with him getting on in years the it would be good to set up a formal succession plan,” he said.

VM Wealth said the deal closed near the end of July.

Island Car operates from Antigua Avenue in New Kingston with two other offices located in-terminal at both international airports in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Starting with 15 vehicles in April 1973, the car rental company has grown to a fleet of just under 1,500, comprised of light commercial vehicles, small SUVs as well as luxury sedans and full SUVs. Island Car also offers private transfers, day trips and an executive chauffeur service.

Parkes says as part of the acquisition deal, he is retaining the staff, but will also be recruiting additional talent.

“We will be adding more persons based on certain functions and based on an aggressive and robust growth plan that we have in place,” he said.

Those plans, he said, span short, medium and long-term horizons.

“These are things that my predecessor was thinking about but, with age and so on, didn’t pull the trigger on that. With a younger person coming in we’ll be picking up where he left off,” Parkes said.

“Some of these will be implemented over the next three to six months, which I consider to be the low hanging fruits while others will be over the one to three-year horizon. The larger goal will be more long-term,” he said.

There are no immediate plans to expand the local fleet; instead Island Car is looking to expand its footprint to other countries in the Caribbean.

The targeted markets were not disclosed.

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