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Barita Investments Limited takes over three US real estate servicers companies

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Local investment firm Barita Investments Limited on Thursday announced a “landmark transaction” in which a Jamaican company, Ecommerce Property Services Limited (Ecommerce), has acquired three United States -based (US) real estate services companies.

The acquired companies – Robert Slack Fine Homes LLC (Robert Slack LLC), property purchase, sale brokerage; Florida Funding LLC, mortgage brokering and Florida Title LLC, titling & transaction settlement provider – were previously primarily owned by Robert Slack and Walters, who, as part of the transaction, now own a stake in Ecommerce.

Barita said the three companies are vertically integrated tech-based companies that each serve distinct stages of the real estate purchase [and] sale process.

The largest of them, Robert Slack LLC, is expected to have combined property sales exceeding US$2 billion for the 2021 financial year.

Jamaica has traditionally been the home to acquisition targets – foreign firms buying local companies and repatriating profits – but Terise Kettle, Vice President, Investment Banking at Barita, pointed out that in this transaction, locally owned company Cornerstone, through its subsidiary Barita Investments, helped a Jamaican company do the reverse.

“Now, profits from these US companies in the form of foreign currency dividend flows will be repatriated back to Jamaica for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Kettle noted that the acquisition is phase one of the transaction, providing quasi-equity and debt financing to Ecommerce through an innovative structure called a ‘leveraged recapitalisation’.

It is anticipated that phase two will see Barita arranging the listing of the company on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, “providing more investors with the opportunity to gain exposure in three of the largest and fastest-growing real estate services companies in the US, and benefiting from the significant growth opportunities that will be pursued by the Ecommerce team”.

“The innovative structure that was arranged and executed by Barita’s Investment Banking and Structured Finance teams will form the basis for similar transactions to be pursued in North America. This transaction has provided us with the opportunity to pursue other partnerships in the lucrative North American market as we seek to execute our local and regional expansion strategy,” Kettle said in discussing future plans for the local investment firm.

The financing and acquisition transaction was executed by the Barita Investment Banking and Structured Finance Products teams with support from local and international service providers and professionals who carried out due diligence and other professional services.

“We successfully leveraged our balance sheet to help a Jamaican company buy three US-based companies with significant growth potential,” explained Kettle.