Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Friday | July 17, 2009
Home : Business
Ross takes full control

Managing Director Charles Ross and Mildred Moss. Ross has bought out Moss and other partners in Sterling Asset Management. - File

Charles Ross, the managing partner of investment company Sterling Asset Management since its formation nearly a decade ago, has bought out the other shareholders to become its single owner, Ross has confirmed.

He said the deal, in which he acquired the 48.9 per cent of the company that was held by Mildred Moss, Winston Hepburn and Wallace Nelson, was concluded in March, but declined to disclose how much he paid for the shares, or other terms of the acquisition.

Sole shareholder

"I am the sole shareholder," was all Ross would say.

None of the former partners were immediately available for comment, but other sources estimated that Ross would have paid around US$2.1 million for the acquisition, ending what Financial Gleaner sources say was an acrimonious final two among the quartet that launched Sterling in 2000.

Ross was previously the executive director of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), which he left to start Sterling.

Founded with a capital base of $19.5 million, Sterling now has $5 billion in funds under management, on asset base of approximately $1.5 billion - a figure which Ross said he is seeking to grow by 50 per cent a year over the next three years.

That is part of a general restructuring, Ross suggested, that will see Sterling broadening its product offering, including the provision of cambio services, for which it has applied to the central bank for a licence. It also intends to become more aggressive in the money markets, to garner business.

"Sterling does quite a bit of trading as internationally traded bonds make up most of our portfolio," he said. "Our trading volume has picked up significantly in 2009 and we expect this trend to continue throughout this year."

Ross also sees opportunities in the mutual fund market, which now forms a small part of the company's business.

He is waiting for the industry to open up. In the meantime, the company is on a campaign to showcase the talent in the organisation, with the latest advertisement this week focussed on David Weir, head of investment and client services.

While Ross declined to disclose the specifics of the shareholdings before his buy-out, company house data suggested that he held 51.11 per cent of Sterling - 50.12 per cent in his own name and 0.99 per cent through a St Lucia register vehicle, Sterling (St Lucia) Holdings.

Moss, a financial services executive and her ex-husband, Hepburn, were believed to have held 25.8 per cent and Nelson, a one-time Desnoes and Geddes executive, owned 25 per cent.

Reason for retreat

Financial Gleaner sources said that the retreat of the former partners was triggered by differences over the strategic direction of Sterling and Ross' management style, but their withdrawal was held up for more than a year over valuation issues.

Moss, a long-time financial services professional with whom Ross shared executive duties at Sterling as chief operating officer, has since exited the company as part of the reorganisation.

"No one has replaced her," Ross said. "Her duties have been assigned to existing members of staff."

Sterling has eight full time staff members but will increase that number, Ross said, as it rolls out new products and services over the next two to three years.

Home | Lead Stories | News | Business | Sport | Commentary | Letters | Entertainment | Social |