Wednesday 30 September, 2020

SSL Group restructures; plans name change for venture capital arm

Zachary Harding, Group CEO of SSL Growth Equity Limited (SSL Group).

Zachary Harding, Group CEO of SSL Growth Equity Limited (SSL Group).

Zachary Harding, Group CEO of SSL Growth Equity Limited (SSL Group) indicated on Tuesday that the company is undergoing significant restructuring.

He disclosed that a merger of sorts is pending between his firm Hyperion Equities and SSL Group Limited, a holding company for several subsidiaries. 

Harding, who was recently appointed as group CEO, also exercises CEO responsibilities for SSL Jamaica and SSL Venture Capital and all other companies under the group. 

Discussions are advanced as Harding seeks to take a stake in SSL Group that he now manages. 

As to the size of the stake to be taken by Hyperion Equity, he commented: "That’s in discussions, we have not finalized as yet.”

“But by virtue of me being in the process of acquiring a stake, I was appointed as group CEO for all of the entities. It’s a merger if you will. I have brought to the table the deals that I had, and I have now folded that into SSL Group,” he noted.

Harding outlined that deal flow is likely to double for the combined entity as a result, with the group now looking at four deals which are expected to close before mid-2020.

Mark Croskery has resigned as Chairman and CEO of SSLVC effective September 13, 2019.

Further, Mark Croskery has resigned from directorships and executive positions held in SSL Group, Loop News has been informed. Croskery’s attorney, Ian Wilkson QC said Tuesday, he would deliver a statement on matters surrounding his client and SSL Group.

Explaining the SSL Group structure, Harding said SSL Group is registered in Barbados as an IBC.

“Underneath that (SSL Group) are six subsidiaries, one of which is the one that everybody knows, is Stocks and Securities Jamaica Limited,” Harding said. 

“We also have SSL Asset Management Cayman and two or three other entities, some which we probably will dispose of. We also have the SSL Real Estate Investment Trust which we sold to Kingston Wharves. We completed that sale successfully and painlessly.”

Name change to reduce confusion

In the meantime, Harding revealed that SSL Venture Capital (SSL VC), another SSL Group subsidiary, is set to undergo a name change. Harding said the name change will reduce confusion in the market regarding SSL Venture Capital and Stocks and Securities Limited. 

“There was massive confusion between SSLVC and Stocks and Securities Limited,” Harding said. “SSL Jamaica is the main one that Jamaicans know.”

News attached to SSLVC has been less than positive this year.  

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SSL Ventures was in 2018 formed from the successful rescue of loss-making C2W Music. The VC holds equity in three ventures Bar Central, Muse 360 Integrated, and Blue Dot Data Intelligence. 

"The portfolio companies were late with their financials and because we own 50 per cent or more of those entities, those financials consolidate up into SSLVC. As a result of their audit being late ours (the CV) was late,” Harding said. 

The result was a voluntary suspension of trading and later, a mandatory suspension of trading.

Harding said on Tuesday that all audits are up to date and unqualified with the venture capital subsidiary back to trading on the stock exchange.

SSL Group has also appointed to the venture capital company’s board two new directors from the US, to increase deal flow from the west coast of that country.

Harding and Jeff Cobham are to be joined by three new board members at SSLVC.  

They are local financial analyst, John Jackson, and two US nationals – Christine Birch and Brent Ciurlino. Birch is a former vice president at Sony and DreamWorks while Ciurlino is an asset manager based in New York.

At the senior management level, Anthony Dunn has been appointed Chief Operating Officer at SSL VC. According to Harding, Dunn first joined as a consultant to “assist with cleaning up the portfolio companies”. 

“He did a stellar job, hence his appointment,” Harding noted.

Additionally, Allison Hemmings, who served chief financial officer at SSL Jamaica, will now serve at the group level.

SSL Group has also appointed Cube Corporate Support Limited as company secretary for both SSL Jamaica and SSL VC. Cube is operated by attorney-at-law, Julie Thompson James

Thompson James previously served as Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel at Scotia Group Jamaica.

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