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Proven to hold off on new acquisitions

Proven Group Limited plans to avoid acquisitions this year due to global uncertainty, but will continue to develop real estate projects.

It’s the second time since the onset of the pandemic that the firm has adopted a passive approach.

“We want to preserve capital,” said Proven CEO Christopher Williams at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

The group changed its name from Proven Investments Limited recently to Proven Group as part of regulatory requirements for creating a holding company for a bank it bought in Cayman Islands, Williams explained.

Proven and its subsidiaries currently operate or provide services in the investment, banking, pension, microfinance, real estate and food sectors.

The group holds total assets of U$1.1 billion, compared to US$675 million a year earlier.

“We operate throughout the Caribbean and there are varying levels of downturn. None has been significant as a percentage, nothing greater than three or four per cent, but there is definitely a slowdown right across the Caribbean,” he said, citing interest rate hikes, inflation and supply chain challenges. “So we are not looking for any acquisitions as a result; we are just sitting tight and making the best of our existing portfolio.”

The company intends to maintain its dividend payouts.

“We are happy with our cash position,” said Williams. “There is no panic in any of our operations and we are just maintaining that.”

The group, through its subsidiary Proven Properties Limited, has 10 real estate developments in the works, four of which are slated for completion this calendar year. They include The Cesar, a residential complex comprising six villas and nine apartments; Via at Braemar, comprising 99 residential units; Gladstone Commercial, spanning 42,000 square feet of space for the commercial market; and The Lagoons in the Cayman Islands, a complex of 13 townhouses. All four developments are slated for completion this month.

“The development we have done in Cayman has been phenomenally profitable. It is on budget and on time. It’s been an excellent experience working with the contractor and with the project manager. That will deliver very strong returns,” he said, explaining that the group expects to book the earnings from the project after it hands over the titles in the December quarter.

Among its local projects, Proven broke ground on Sol Harbour in Ocho Rios, which will provide 156 resident units slated for completion by September 2024, and has plans for two properties in Runaway Bay, Williams said.

The group also holds a small property on Chelsea Avenue.

“It is a parking lot right now and we do not have any intention of developing that property,” he said.

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