Cable Bahamas Executive Discusses New Jamaican Venture
During conversations about Jamaica, Brandan Paddick can’t resist making passing reference to his tortuous 10-mile journey from the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, to Gordon House, six years ago.
Hurricane Ivan had just sideswiped the south of the island, and the capital, though spared its full brunt was certainly not unscathed.
As the storm menacingly wormed its way along the coast, it carved out a swath of destruction that left in tatters an already strained civil infrastructure – the grief extending from Morant Point in the east to Westmoreland to the west.
On the way, dislodged boulders, crater-sized sinkholes, uprooted trees and utility poles provided the visitor with the first visual evidence of the colossal rebuilding task ahead.
Yet, a less visible but equally ominous development had drawn this entrepreneur to Jamaica. In the aftermath of the storm, a telecommunications blackout had blanketed the country, isolating it from the rest of the world, and exposing the inherent weakness in its reliance on a single-provider for the backbone of its global links.
Seated in the SUV beside the Canadian businessman, was Michael Lee Chin. In 1999, the billionaire had bought National Commercial Bank (NCB), using money he had made in Canada; he was still brimming with smile over his serendipitous investment. It was at his invitation that Paddick had ventured from the relative safety of his country, into what must have appeared to him to be a hurricane-ravaged environment.
Part-owner and CEO of an Internet and cable television company that served 1,200 towns in Canada, Paddick and his partner John Risley had recently sold the firm, and had used part of the proceeds to fully capitalise another cable services outfit they bought in The Bahamas. They still had a lot of cash on hand, and were in an acquisition mode.
“John Risley looks for new growth markets to take advantage of our core competencies,” explains Paddick.
Their formula, developed in Canada and perfected in The Bahamas, calls for the acquisition of existing systems, “investing heavily to upgrade them with state-of-the-art technology, integrating them together to create critical mass and marketing them in a manner that was relevant to our customers”.
According to Paddick, “the Caribbean fit this bill to a tee”.