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Lee-Chin to take on operational role in Canada during NCB leave of absence

Published:Friday 1:08 AM

Billionaire investor and Chairman of Portland Holdings, Michael Lee Chin.

NCB Financial Group Limited sought to quell speculation on Wednesday night regarding its chairman, billionaire investor Michael Lee-Chin, after initially announcing his pending leave of absence from the board without explanation.

The initial reports roiled investors but at the end of the day, the NCB Financial stock still closed up by 0.83 per cent at $71.63 per share on Wednesday. On Thursday, the stock continued its rise to $72 in early morning trading, but eventually changed trajectory to close the trading day down at $71.27.

On Wednesday, NCB Financial Group, which owns National Commercial Bank Jamaica, disclosed to the market that Lee-Chin was taking a leave of absence from the bank but not the reason for his absence. His leave extended to his board seat at Guardian Holdings Limited in Trinidad, a regional insurance group majority-owned by NCB Financial.

The speculation began immediately, forcing NCB Financial to issue a longer statement later that same night with a little more clarity.

Lee-Chin had lost his top lieutenant in Canada – who was said to be Frank Laferriere – and had to take on added responsibilities in his own companies and the ongoing work in relation to oncology and clean energy. The investor’s assets and investments are mainly held through Portland Holdings Inc, which he chairs.

“We are aware that some stakeholders have questions regarding our recent announcement of a decision by our board chairman (the Honourable Michael Lee-Chin, OJ) to take a leave of absence to focus on personal and business matters,” the banking conglomerate said. “While we are not in a position to comment in detail on the matters in question, he has shared his need and desire to step into an executive role within his organisation in Canada, temporarily, until he can find a replacement for his chief operating officer who is leaving after 25 years.”

Lead independent director Professor Alvin Wint will act as chairman of NCB Financial Group until Lee-Chin’s return. NCB Financial President & CEO Patrick Hylton, who is chairman of National Commercial Bank Jamaica and Guardian Holdings, will continue in those roles.

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