JMMB sets stage for expansion in Dominican Republic market Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

With a new commercial banking license in hand, the JMMB Group is focusing on growing its business in the Dominican Republic (DR), where the financial sector is not as developed as in Jamaica.

The group’s operating profit showed a 73 per cent decline, moving from $4.3 billion to $1.1 billion for the nine months ending December 2023, but Group CEO Keith Duncan says the company is balanced to grow in the DR along with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and a smaller focus on Barbados for now.

“We just got the commercial banking license in the DR, so we are positioned for growth. We are going to put a lot of effort behind growing our commercial bank in the DR”, Duncan revealed during the Mayberry Investments Limited Virtual Investor Forum on Thursday, February 28.

“The economy (in the DR) is about five times the size of Jamaica’s and the potential there is huge. The capital market and the financial services there are not as developed as Jamaica so there’s more work to be done, but that’s an opportunity (for growth)”, Duncan said. 

The Group CEO said the company had recently standardized its banking platform terminals across Jamaica, the DR and T&T, the three main countries in which it operates.

“So, when we roll out a product, we can roll out across all three countries…it has given us some challenges, but we continue to improve the platform”, Duncan said. 

The financial results for the nine months ending December 2023 showed gross revenue up 13 per cent to $40.9 billion; net income interest down 24 per cent to $6.4 billion because of the high-interest rate regime, commission interest down 10 per cent to $3.9 billion; and net profit almost $17 billion.

Duncan indicated that the company expects to pay a dividend to shareholders by the middle of 2024.

“We are transitioning now, but we have some serious investors who are saying take care of the shareholders with their dividends. The end of the financial year is in March, and we have to go through the audit process, then we’ll make some provisions for dividends probably around June”, Duncan said. 

The JMMB Group owns 23 percent of Sagicor Finance which it acquired in 2019, which owns 49 percent of Sagicor Jamaica. Sagicor Jamaica owns 100 per cent of Ivari Holdings, a Canadian-based life insurance company. Duncan said, “These business lines are doing quite well”. 

Commenting on the recent local government election, Duncan said a strong message was sent to the government that many persons were not feeling the effects of the improved economy. 

“The message sent from the local government elections is that you can say you’re doing well as an economy but the poor man not feeling it. The IMF is saying this (Jamaica is doing well), rating agencies upgrade you. But the people send the message big time”, Duncan said.

He added that his company would be open to public-private partnerships to fund infrastructure projects soon.

“Jamaica is set for a growth trajectory. What we need is the human capital”, Duncan said.