Regional security Amalgamated Security Services Limited has acquired a 51 per cent stake in ECHE Limited, a cash management and digital payments company founded by seasoned security professional, Lititia Myers-Gray.
The equity deal with Amalgamated was inked in March, just months after Myers-Gray had reacquired former backer Proven Investments Holdings’ stake in the business.
Incorporated in November 2022, ECHE does some amount of business in the finance and technology industries, but backing from Amalgamated Security which has expanded its footprint to 26 countries over its 40-year history, would give ECHE the buffer it needs to take on big rivals in the local cash management market.
Myers-Gray will be taking on the likes of security company Beryllium Limited, formerly Guardsman Armoured Limited, which is the dominant cash management operator and was once led by her as its managing director. She left Beryllium in December 2021 and founded ECHE nearly a year later. ECHE launched into operation in February of this year.
Myers-Gray declined to comment on the value of the deal with Amalgamated, a company that’s reportedly larger than Guardsman Group, but says the partnership has already afforded ECHE Limited a cash boost of US$2 million towards capex projects including the acquisition of armoured trucks, security technology and equipment as well as the staffing of 150 employees.
“That’s just for year one of operations. Amalgamated has already spent a significant portion of the funds,” Myers-Gray told the Financial Gleaner in an interview on Monday.
Jamaica has $226 billion of currency – banknotes and coins – in circulation, but as to the amount of business that the cash management market generates, that was said by industry players to be in the order of around $5 billion in revenue annually.
Cash management services includes cash in transit, ATM replenishment, deposit processing and vault management. And it’s a dangerous business.
In recent times, for example, Beryllium has come under attack from gun-toting criminals, and in one instance, it was reported that the robbers made off with more than $23 million in cash that the company transporting.
“It’s no secret that Jamaica has a crime problem, and it makes the securing of cash problematic to say the least. If we are going to provide meaningful services that will have national impact and disrupt the status quo, we must implement measures that will not be easily challenged by the elements,” said Myers-Gray.
“I’ve never shied away from dismantling anything that’s not working,” she said.
Her new partner and now ECHE majority owner, Amalgamated Security, is itself in the business of electronic security services, cash management, guard security, vehicle tracking, off-site data storage, cybersecurity and digital solutions, financial service and risk compliance, investigative services, among others.
The Trinidad & Tobago-based company headed by executive chairman Dr Michael Aboud, operates in 26 markets, serving clients that span government agencies, financial institutions, corporate and private establishments, retail business and industrial complexes. Its acquisition of ECHE marks its entry into Jamaica and its eighth Caribbean operation, the others being its home market, Guyana, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Myers-Gray said the decision to partner with Amalgamated was largely based on the level of resources the company has at its disposal, its technology, and capital readily available to support ECHE’s growth plan.
“It was a no-brainer to partner with Amalgamated. Not only is it a giant in business, but the company is aligned with our vision for ECHE,” she said.
Amalgamated has secured three of the five seats on ECHE’s board, whose members now comprise Myers-Gray as CEO, Dr Aboud as chairman, attorney-at-law Rochelle Cameron, Amalgamated’s Head of Electronic Security and Integrated Systems Joseph Smith, and General Manager of Amalgamated Grenada Charles Rodriques.
Over time, ECHE plans to expand into three of the Caribbean markets where Amalgamated Security operates, after securing market share in Jamaica.
“What we are bringing to the market is very different from what exists in Jamaica today. I can’t speak directly to our strategy because it’s a very competitive space, but in two to three months we will be rolling out some armoured vehicles and new technologies,” she said.
ECHE will also be coming to market with three new service offerings later this year.
“There is space in the market for more security services. We are going to tap into what exists now, which is cash management, and come September we have brand new services that we will roll out, all aimed at attracting new business,” Myers-Gray said.