The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) is pursuing diverse finance and business options of Initial Public Offerings (IPO), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) and Private/Public Partnerships (PPPs) to provide attractive investment opportunities for private individuals and institutions. These will form the main elements of a new strategy by the Corporation to see to the implementation of city development plans through the attraction of private capital.
The UDC anticipates that given the low interest rate environment occasioned by the Jamaica Debt Exchange, the products and offerings contemplated should be attractive in the capital markets with capital in search for attractive long term investments.
The Minister of Finance and the Public Service, the Honourable Audley Shaw recently gave approval to the UDC to utilize a REIT structure to facilitate the development an 800 car multi-story parking facility at Orange Street downtown Kingston. The soon to be completed Digicel head office will bring over 1000 staff members to that complex and is expected to bring significant pressure to bear on overburdened parking arrangements downtown.
Though not yet formally approved, the UDC is also expected to get the green light on structuring Private Public Partnerships to facilitate the involvement of private capital and Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), based on "bundling" of income earning assets. This will reduce the need for borrowing, support private sector need for sound investment opportunities, while retaining national assets for the public good.
These initiatives were officially announced during an Investment Seminar hosted by the Corporation in collaboration with Scotia Investments Jamaica Limited (SIJL) on September 22, 2011 at the Jamaica Conference Centre under the theme Redevelopment of Downtown Kingston: Investment Challenges and Opportunities.
According to Joy Douglas, General Manager of the UDC "The Corporation has entered the capital market and will be exploring several investment opportunities even as we seek to operationalise elements of the development plans for the city, in the context of the resource limitations of the Corporation and the country".
Lenworth Tracey, Deputy General Manager for Economic Development and Corporate Relations at the UDC is confident that the combination of the currently stable macro-economic environment, combined with the proposed investment opportunities and tax benefits to be derived under the Urban Renewal Tax Incentive Programme and the Junior Stock Exchange, now provide a compelling financial reason to act for those in search of attractive returns on tangible investments.