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Robert Bermudez Retires From The Position Of Chairman, Issues Last Massy Holdings Ltd. Chairman’s Statement.

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The First Half of the 2023 Financial Year was a very important period for the Massy Group strategically, financially and purposefully. Strategically, the Group set out in 2019 to divest non-core businesses and assets and to focus future investments in its core Portfolios (Integrated Retail, Gas Products and Motors and Machines). Furthermore, at its Annual Strategy Retreat in 2022, the Group declared a bold new vision: “A Global Force For Good, an Investment Holding Company with a Caribbean Heart”.

In the First Half (“HY”) of 2023 the Group has initiated the redeployment of capital released from divestments in transformative acquisitions in its core Portfolios.

In December 2022, the Group acquired Rowe’s IGA supermarkets in Jacksonville Florida for US$47 million. Rowe’s acquisition is a major step in achieving the Group’s global vision and provides an excellent beachfront for further niche supermarket acquisitions in the South East United States. In January, the Group acquired Air Liquide’s operations in Trinidad for US$57 million consolidating the Group’s position as the leading industrial gas manufacturer and distributor in the region with additional export opportunities to be tapped. In December 2022, the Group announced the signing of a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) to acquire IGL Jamaica for US$140 million, which will consolidate the Group’s position as the leading LPG business in the region and provide access to additional economies of scale to bring efficiencies to consumers. We are still working with the Jamaica Fair Trade Commission (FTC) to get approval for the transaction; and we expect the transaction to close in Q3 2023.

Financially, the Group continues to perform commendably. The Group’s Third Party Revenue from Continuing Operations grew by 11% for the HY 2023 to $6.8 billion (US$1 billion). This was propelled by 16% Revenue growth from the IRP, which is benefiting from its acquisition of the Rowe’s IGA supermarkets in December 2022. Group Profit Before Tax (“PBT”) from Continuing Operations grew by 17% to $520 million (US$77.2 million) and Group Profit After Tax from Continuing Operations increased by 19% to $354 million (US$52.5 million) with a slightly lower Effective Tax rate of 32% compared to 33% in the prior HY.

Strong PBT growth in the Integrated Retail Portfolio of 20% and Motors and Machines Portfolio of 11% compensated for PBT decline in the Gas Products Portfolio of 11% in HY 2023. The rebalancing of the Divestment Funds Portfolio (DFP) and higher interest rates in the US facilitated significant improvements to the DFP and the TIRCL reinsurance business performance. In HY 2023, the DFP produced a gain of US$2.6 million versus a loss of US$1.4 million in the prior HY, a US$4 million swing. TIRCL PBT for HY 2023 was US$1.6 million versus a US$429K loss in the HY 2022, a US$2 million swing.

Purposefully, the Group is taking the opportunity to live out its Purpose through its celebrations and engagement initiatives around its 100 Year Anniversary (Our100). On February 1st 2023, the Group celebrated its 100th Anniversary. This is a significant milestone for the Group. Throughout our 100-year journey, the lessons we’ve learned along the way, our successes, and the mistakes we’ve made, have all helped us grow and shape who we are today. We have seen that our approach of love and care, tapping into our “Caribbean Heart”, with a disciplined focus on our three main portfolios results in stronger engagement and leads to greater prosperity for all. As part of marking Our100 we have recommitted to an Employee Ownership initiative to ensure that all Massy employees are given an opportunity to own shares in the Group. In Jamaica, all employees were already granted a gift of US$100 worth of Massy shares; the response has been tremendously encouraging. Our100 also includes “Forces For Good” impact initiatives in which employees will be encouraged to submit proposals to support charities with cash, goods, skills and volunteers to significantly scale the impact of the charity’s work.

This is my last Massy Holdings Ltd. Chairman’s Statement. I have served as a Director on the Massy Holdings board for the past 26 years. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve with many outstanding executives and directors. I have witnessed great successes and some failures during my tenure on the MHL Board. I retire from the position of Chairman with great pride in what the organization has achieved over the years and in its ability to stay resilient. I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the great work of all Massy’s past employees and leaders and thank all our current staff, executives, customers and suppliers for their commitment and dedication. The Group would not have survived for 100 years and certainly would not be in this position of fortitude for another 100 years of purposeful growth without you all.

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VM Investments Dumps 30% Stake In Carilend, Acquires 100% of Republic Funds Barbados

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Rezworth Burchenson Chief Executive Officer VM Investments Limited (VMIL) Has Released The Following Unaudited Consolidated Financial Statements For The First Quarter Ended March 31, 2024

First Quarter Financial Overview: March 2024
For the first quarter of 2024, VMIL’s Total Operating Revenue was $911.93 million in comparison to $439.52 million in the prior year, representing an increase of 107.49%.
Net income also increased from $19.92 million in Q1-2023 to $510.21 million.
Net interest income totalled $31.40 million, a decline when compared to $91.63 million reported in the prior year due to our deliberate capital management policy to contain the growth of our repo portfolio, but also compression of spreads due to the tight monetary policy of higher interest rates.

Lower investor confidence and reduced market participation negatively impacted Fees & Commission, which declined to $181.54 million.

Gains from investment activities were primarily boosted by the sale of our equity interest in Carilend, during the review period. VMIL took the strategic decision to liquidate our holdings and to redeploy capital to other ventures.

For the review quarter, expenses grew by 5.76% to $470.39 million against the backdrop of our prudent cost-containment measures.

Our Share of Associate’s Profit for the quarter was lower at $14.69 million.
Profit Before Tax amounted to $456.23 million which translated to net earnings of $510.21 million for the quarter, the highest quarterly profit in the history of VMIL.

Assets Under Management
Our on-balance sheet assets were higher at $30.19 billion, showing an increase of 4%. This was predominately driven by increases in the value of our resale agreements, loan balance and investment in associates of $1.76 billion and $5.21 billion and $1.72 billion respectively. The increase was however tempered by a reduction in net investments in finance leases along with lower cash balance and PP&E figures.

VM Wealth Management (VMWM), continued to manage clients’ funds on a non-recourse basis under management agreements, which saw total off-balance sheet assets of $33.91 billion versus $33.68 billion as at March 2023.

We are pleased that our Unit Trust portfolios have been performing well this year, with the Global Equity and Classic Income Funds generating YTD market-leading returns of 6.69% and 1.77%, respectively in the quarter.

We prudently maintained a capital to assets ratio in excess of the 8% minimum requirement. At the end of Q1, the capital to total assets ratio was 15.02%.

Gain on sale of VMIL’s 30% stake in Carilend
In the first quarter of the financial year, VMIL made significant strides in executing strategic initiatives geared at promoting sustainable growth. One of these included the sale of VMIL’s 30% stake in Carilend Caribbean Holdings Limited in March 2024. Carilend, which was acquired in 2019, is a fintech company that services the Caribbean region, offering a digital lending platform. The shareholding in Carilend was acquired by the VM Financial Group and this transaction had a positive impact on the gains from investment activities.

VMIL Completed 100% Acquisition of Republic Funds Barbados
VM Investments Limited (VMIL) officially acquired 100% ownership of Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited’s shares in Republic Funds (Barbados) Incorporated (RFI) on January 19th, 2024. Following this acquisition, VM Wealth Management Ltd., VMIL’s major subsidiary, took over the administration of the mutual funds previously managed by RFI and changed the names of the mutual funds as follows:

Former Name                                         New Name
Republic Capital Growth Fund:                VM Wealth Capital Growth Fund
Republic Income Fund:                              VM Wealth Income Fund
Republic Property Fund:                            VM Wealth Property Fund

Operating under the new name VM Wealth Funds Limited, the Barbados branch, led by Country Manager Sean Yearwood, now oversees the rebranded mutual funds and is committed to enhancing financial literacy and investment proficiency among Barbadians and the broader Caribbean populace.

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Tropical Battery To Deleverage Balance Sheet Through APO, Enhance Financial Stability And Reduce Interest Costs.

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Alexander Melville Chief Executive Officer Tropical Battery Company Limited Has Released The Following Interim Report For 2nd Quarter 2024

Overview
Tropical Battery Company Limited experienced a remarkable period of growth in Q2 FY2024, marked by substantial revenue and gross profit increases. This success is primarily attributed to strategic acquisitions, including Rose Batteries in Silicon Valley, California, and Kaya Energy Group, acquired in Q3 FY2023.
The Rose Batteries team’s strength was further enhanced by adding key personnel, including Katey Daniel as the new Customer Success Manager and Noelle Machado as the Procurement Manager, who have made significant positive impacts. Wouter Potman, Rose’s recent Project Management hire, has also made substantial improvements in professionally documenting the status of the development pipeline, reinforcing the effectiveness of the project management strategies.
KAYA Energy successfully navigated public relations challenges and regulatory uncertainties in the renewable energy sector to close several vital deals north of $250 million for the quarter.

Financial Review
The statement of financial position as of March 31, 2024, illustrates a dynamic period of growth fuelled by strategic acquisitions and significant capital investments. The acquisition of substantial new assets and the expansion into new facilities have poised the company for continued success in its market sector. Moreover, the planned deleveraging through an Additional Public Offering indicates a proactive approach to managing increased debt levels, aiming to optimise the financial structure and enhance shareholder value. The overall economic health of Tropical Battery is robust, with strong liquidity and asset bases that provide a solid foundation for future growth and profitability.

Revenue and Gross Profit
During Q2 FY2024, Tropical Battery’s gross operating revenue increased, climbing from $700 million in Q2 FY2023 to $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year, representing a surge of approximately 121%. This significant rise is directly linked to the company’s recent acquisitions, which expanded its market presence and operational scale. The gross profit also reflected this positive trend, increasing from $223 million to $489 million, translating to a growth of 119%. These figures underscore the successful integration of the new acquisitions and suggest an effective management strategy for leveraging new assets to enhance overall profitability.

Expenses and Operating Profit
During the fiscal period, we witnessed notable increases in specific expense categories. Non-recurring acquisition-related costs amounted to $77 million, reflecting the one-time cost of the recent acquisitions. Additionally, administration, marketing, and selling expenses rose from $161 million to $305 million, an increase of 90%. This escalation is due to the expanded operations and the need to support a larger organisational structure post-acquisition.
Despite these increased outlays, operating profit improved significantly by 71%, from $62 million in Q2 FY2023 to $107 million in Q2 FY2024, indicating effective cost management relative to the increased revenue. Furthermore, if we add back the one-time nonrecurring acquisition-related cost of $77 million, the increase in operating profit would be significantly higher.

Finance Costs and Net Profit
Finance costs presented a challenge, escalating by 526% from $16 million to $102 million. This rise was partially offset by increased finance income, which increased from $11 million to $38 million. Net finance costs after adjustments stood at $64 million. These costs notably impacted profit before taxation, which decreased from $50 million to $27 million.

Strategic Financial Planning
Tropical Battery plans to deleverage its balance sheet through an Additional Public Offering (APO) to enhance financial stability and reduce interest costs. This offering is set to raise significant capital and pay down existing debt substantially, which is expected to lower interest costs moving forward and contribute positively to the company’s financial health.

Company Outlook
Tropical Battery Company Limited’s strategic financial decisions have dramatically transformed its landscape over the last six months. The investment in acquisitions and capital expenditures, supported by substantial financing activities, has set the stage for expanded operations and potential revenue growth.
To achieve greater cohesion across the markets we serve — Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the United States — we plan to capitalise on the synergies among Tropical Battery, Kaya Energy, and Rose Batteries. This strategy is designed to expand growth opportunities and realise cost efficiencies throughout the group. By synchronising our operations, strengthening our market presence, and leveraging our brand advantages, we aim to develop a unified group strategy that enhances efficiency and increases profitability.

Our approach includes thoroughly reviewing and integrating systems and processes to ensure smooth coordination among the three companies. This alignment is expected to enhance our return on capital employed, drawing on the combined strengths of these distinguished brands to foster growth, drive innovation, and deliver exceptional customer service.

The planned APO represents a proactive strategy to optimise the financial structure and support sustainable development. The strategic benefits of these acquisitions and financial strategies are expected to materialise over the coming periods, potentially leading to enhanced economic performance.

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Dolla Financial Services Shareholders’ Equity Hits JA$1B, Marking An Increase Of JA$237 million or 30% YoY.

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Kenroy Kerr Chief Executive Officer Dolla Financial Services Limited Has Released The Following Unaudited Consolidated Financial Statements For The Period Ending March 31, 2024.

Throughout the first quarter, our commitment to delivering exceptional loan services, fostering customer confidence, building relationships, and enriching our product offerings has remained steadfast.

Our distinctive business approach has enabled us to broaden our reach to a broader audience, thereby fostering economic growth and increasing accessibility to funding opportunities.

Throughout the three-month period, our income totalled $365 million, marking a year-on-year (YoY) increase of $71 million or 24%. This growth is credited to the efforts of our sales team, notably ULTRA, which contributed 37% to the consolidated income and our customers who trusted us as their financial partners.

Net interest income (NII) before expected credit losses (ECL) stood at $304 million,
showcasing a growth of $56million or 22% YoY. The growth was tempered by a $19
million or 14% increase in operating expenses to $152 million. The increase in expenses comes as a result of continuous investments in staff capacity to manage the influx of demand, regulatory and professional fees, and intensified marketing efforts.

Earnings per share (EPS) for period reached $0.06 per share marking an increase of
$0.01 YoY.

We are also delighted to announce that our Group’s efficiency ratio improved to 41%, compared to 45% in March 2023. This favorable development underscores our dedication to operational efficiency and prudent resource management.

Our total loans book, net of expected credit losses (ECL), reached $2.8 billion, representing an increase of $423 million or 24% YoY. Business loans accounted for 84% of the total loan portfolio, while personal loans accounted for the remaining 16%.

Within the loan portfolio, secured loans constituted 83%, with unsecured loans making up the remaining 17%. This balanced portfolio composition reflects our commitment to managing risk effectively while meeting the diverse financing needs of our customers.

We take great pride in highlighting the significant role our collateralized loan strategy has played in upholding the integrity of our loan portfolio. Amidst a backdrop of market turbulence, we’ve effectively maintained our non-performing loans (NPLs) at a steadfast 8.49%, with Expected Credit Losses (ECL) hitting a remarkable record low of 3.5%. These figures not only align with our projected targets but also stand notably below industry norms, reinforcing our dedication to robust risk management protocols.

Our total liabilities surged to $2.1 billion, marking an increase of $423 million or 24% YoY. This notable growth is predominantly fuelled by heightened debt funding, empowering us to amplify our lending endeavors and fortify our strategic pursuits.

Particularly noteworthy is the rise in loans payable, which soared to $1.9 billion, propelled by the acquisition of additional funding aimed at accelerating our expansion efforts.

On the other hand, our Shareholders’ Equity rose to $1.0 billion, marking an increase of $237 million or 30% YoY. This growth in equity is a direct result of our improved profitability over the period, net of dividends declared and reflects the confidence our shareholders have placed in our business.

To summarize, these financial outcomes display Dolla Financials’ steadfast commitment to achieving financial success, expanding our market footprint, and delivering significant value to our esteemed shareholders. We remain prudent in leveraging our distinctive business model, strengthening our loan portfolio, and upholding world class risk management practices.

We’re delighted to announce that the Board of Directors convened on February 5, 2024, and approved a dividend of $0.04 per share. This dividend totals $100 million and was distributed to shareholders on April 5, 2024, to shareholders on record as of March 22, 2024. We view this dividend payment as a demonstration of our dedication to recognizing and rewarding our shareholders for their continued trust and support.

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A.S. Bryden and Sons Premium Beverage Operations Impacted By Shorter Carnival Season.

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Richard Pandohie Chief Executive Officer for A.S. Bryden and Sons Holdings Limited has released the following Interim Report At 31 March 2024 (Expressed In Trinidad And Tobago Dollars Unless Otherwise Indicated)

Year and Quarter-to-Date Performance (January-March 2024)

For the three (3) months ended March 31, 2024 (Q1), the Bryden Group earned revenue of $629.8 million, an increase of $45.1 million (8%) over the corresponding period in 2023. Gross Profit (GP) closed at $172.4 million which was $19.8 million (13%) above the prior year.
Net Profit (NP) was $18.7 million, a decrease of $11.3 million (-38%) versus the corresponding period in 2023.

Our results this quarter relative to last year were impacted by non-recurring items in the
first quarter of 2023 and weaker than expected performance in our premium beverage operations this quarter due to a shorter Carnival season.

 

Comments on Year-to-Date Performance

Group Structure

• Acquisition of 55% stake in Stansfeld Scott (Barbados) Limited; a leading distributor and retailer of wines, spirits and consumer health products in Barbados. This acquisition will allow the Group to expand and diversify its premium beverage and consumer retail business units.

• Acquisition of the ordinary shares of the 10% minority interest shareholder of Bryden Pi and its subsidiaries. The Group will continue to build on the legacy of innovation and service excellence of this subsidiary in furtherance of our health care business objectives.

Revenue

• Strong performance at the top line and GP as the Group’s brands continue to perform in the domestic market and grow in the export market.

• Commercialisation of some of the projects, especially in the pharmaceutical business unit, which were in the pipe-line from prior year.

• Supply chain recovery of some key lines, such as infant care, which had very limited availability in the prior year.

Operations
Shipping challenges coming from the interruption of transits via Panama Canal and re-routing of stock – impact to supplies sourced from the Far East.

Expenses
• Headcount increase to support the business growth agenda.
• Higher brand investment in advertising and promotions.
• Higher effective tax rate as a result of business mix and expiration of benefits enjoyed in 2023.
• Higher interest expense.

We continue to execute on our strategy to expand and improve the quality of each of A.S. Bryden’s businesses. We expect that excluding non-recurring items, our 2024 full year profitability will exceed 2023 despite a slow start to the year.

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T+1: A New Era for the Jamaica Stock Exchange

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Last week marked a significant milestone in the history of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) as it transitions to a T+1 settlement cycle, where trades will settle within one business day of execution. This change, the first of its kind in a century, aligns the JSE with modern global financial markets, aiming to enhance efficiency and reduce systemic risk.

The move to T+1 holds substantial implications for local trading, promising both opportunities and challenges for companies and investors.

Local Implications of T+1 Settlement

Enhanced Market Efficiency

The shift to T+1 is designed to improve the speed and efficiency of the trading process. By reducing the settlement period from the previous T+3 cycle, the time between the trade execution and the finalization of ownership transfer or payment is shortened. This accelerates the availability of capital, enabling investors to reallocate their funds more quickly and react promptly to market developments.

Reduced Counterparty Risk

A shorter settlement cycle reduces the counterparty risk, the risk that one party in a transaction may default before the settlement is completed. This change is particularly beneficial in volatile markets, as it limits the exposure time for both buyers and sellers. For the JSE, this means a more robust and resilient market infrastructure, capable of withstanding economic fluctuations and fostering investor confidence.

Operational Adjustments

However, the transition to T+1 requires significant adjustments in operational processes for brokers, clearinghouses, and financial institutions. Systems and procedures must be updated to handle the accelerated timeline, ensuring that trade confirmations, funding, and securities transfers are completed within the shortened period. This necessitates investment in technology and staff training, which may pose initial challenges but ultimately lead to more streamlined operations.

Benefits for Companies and Investors

For Companies:

Improved Liquidity: With faster settlement times, companies can benefit from improved liquidity as funds from share sales are made available more quickly. This can enhance their ability to reinvest in business operations, pay down debt, or return capital to shareholders.

Greater Market Confidence: The move to T+1 may attract more investors, both domestic and international, to the JSE due to increased market efficiency and reduced risk. Higher investor participation can lead to better price discovery and potentially higher stock valuations.

For Investors:

Quick Access to Funds: Investors can access the proceeds from the sale of securities more rapidly, allowing for quicker reinvestment opportunities. This flexibility can be particularly advantageous in a dynamic market environment.

Enhanced Risk Management: The reduction in counterparty risk provides a safer trading environment, which is especially important for institutional investors managing large portfolios.

International Developments and Their Influence

The global shift towards shorter settlement cycles is not unique to Jamaica. Major financial markets, including those in the United States and Europe, are also transitioning to T+1 or even considering T+0 (same-day settlement). This international trend underscores the importance of keeping pace with global standards to remain competitive.

For instance, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been advocating for a T+1 settlement cycle, with plans to implement this change by 2024. The rationale behind this move is to enhance market resilience, especially in times of crisis, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic when market volatility highlighted the vulnerabilities of longer settlement periods.

The Jamaica Stock Exchange’s adoption of T+1 settlement is a forward-thinking initiative that aligns with global financial market trends. While the transition may present initial challenges, the long-term benefits of increased efficiency, reduced risk, and enhanced market confidence are substantial. For companies, the new regime promises improved liquidity and potentially higher valuations, while investors stand to gain from quicker access to funds and a safer trading environment.

As the JSE navigates this significant change, the collaborative efforts of regulators, market participants, and technology providers will be crucial in ensuring a smooth transition. By embracing the T+1 settlement cycle, Jamaica is poised to strengthen its position in the global financial landscape, offering a more dynamic and resilient marketplace for all stakeholders.

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