Michael Lee-Chin, Chairman, Portland Holdings Inc.
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Michael Lee-Chin, President and Chairman of Portland
Holdings Limited, is widely regarded as a visionary
entrepreneur whose philosophy of “doing well and doing
good” has resulted in phenomenal success and inspiring
Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica in 1951, Michael
immigrated to Canada in 1970 to study civil
engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton,
Ontario. After beginning post‑graduate studies,
Michael decided to explore career opportunities
within the mutual fund industry. At the age of 26,
Michael became a financial advisor and, with growing
success, progressed to the position of branch manager.
In 1983, at the age of 32, Michael borrowed money to
purchase $500,000 of Mackenzie Financial stock. After
four years the stock appreciated seven-fold. Michael used the
profits to make his first acquisition, a small Ontario-based
investment firm called AIC Limited. At that time, Advantage
Investment Counsel (a division of AIC Limited) had assets
under management of just $800,000. Within 20 years, AIC
grew from less than $1 million and – at its business peak –
held more than $15 billion in assets under management. In
September 2009, AIC’s retail investment fund business was
sold to Manulife. Today, Michael remains firmly committed
to creating wealth for investors as Executive Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer of Portland Investment Counsel Inc.,
an investment manager and exempt market dealer.
As the founder of Portland, Michael’s business accomplishments
span various countries and numerous sectors.
At the helm, Michael has established an investment
philosophy and guiding principles for each of the companies
under Portland. Although some companies may not have
possessed strong balance sheets or a guiding framework
prior to acquisition by Portland, it has been under Michael’s
stewardship that each of these companies has come to display
the following attributes:
- Solid returns on equity;
- Positioned in a long-term growth industry;
- Entrepreneurial, competitive and hard-working management;
- Potential to be a global leader;
- Possessing competitive advantages (for example, brands, relationship networks, licenses, etc.); and
- Possessing quality tangible assets.
Following the acquisition of AIC Limited in 1987, Michael
set about developing the Berkshire group of companies
– comprising an investment planning arm, a securities
dealership, and an insurance services operation. Under
Michael’s stewardship, Berkshire was able to amass more than
$12 billion in assets under administration by 2007. At that
time, Berkshire had grown to form a network of 750 fi nancial
advisors operating in 250 offi ces across Canada. In 2007,
Manulife acquired the Berkshire Group of Companies.
In 2002, Portland’s interests expanded internationally with
the acquisition of National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited
and its subsidiaries. Since becoming part of the Portland group,
NCB’s after-tax profi ts have increased from US$6 million
(2001) to US$106 million (2014). NCB today stands as Jamaica’s
largest fi nancial services provider with over 40 branches,
2,400 employees, and offi ces in the Caymans and the United
Kingdom. NCB was awarded the Latin Finance 2007 Bank of
the Year Award. In 2011, The Banker Magazine, a publication
of Financial Times in London, ranked NCB 3rd in the world for
return on capital in its survey of “Top 1,000 Banks” making
NCB among the world’s premiere lending institutions. Also
important is the bank’s reputation as a leader in corporate
citizenship. Since 2003, the Bank, through its philanthropic
arm, the N.C.B. Foundation, has provided fi nancial support to
over 60,000 students.
In 2005, Portland partnered with Risley Group to form
Columbus Communications Ltd. Columbus is a diversifi ed
telecommunications company whose core operating business
is providing cable television services, high speed internet
access, digital telephone and internet infrastructure services
(retail) and, the development of an undersea fi ber optic cable network as well as the sale and lease of the telecom capacity
provided by the network (wholesale). Columbus operates in
22 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
In 2015 Cable & Wireless Communications, Plc acquired
In the tourism sector, Michael has guided Portland
through a number of acquisitions in the Caribbean.
Among them, the Trident Villas and Spa, Reggae Beach
and Blue Lagoon in Jamaica.
In 2007, Michael and the Portland Private Equity team
created a US$225 million private equity fund focusing on investments in the Caribbean Region. Investors
in the AIC Caribbean Fund include a division of the United States Government, the pension plan program of a multi
national corporation, a fund of funds representing clients such as
New York state common retirement fund, European Investment
Bank and Export Development Canada. In July 2014, Michael
and the Private Equity team launched a second private equity
fund, Portland Caribbean Fund II, with an initial close of US$100
million. The Fund is focused on making growth equity investments
in high quality scalable businesses as well as transactions in the
infrastructure and essential asset sectors in the Carribbean Basin.
Under Michael’s stewardship, Portland currently owns a
collection of diversifi ed businesses, operating in sectors that
include fi nancial services, consumer goods, waste management,
tourism and media.
In 2012 through Mandeville Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of
Portland Holdings, Michael started assembling a diversifi ed group
of wealth management companies that includes: Mandeville
Private Client Inc. (an investment dealer), Mandeville Wealth
Services Inc. (a mutual fund and exempt market dealer) and
Mandeville Insurance Services Inc. (life insurance).
Wallenford Limited, a subsidiary of Portland Holdings, began
the process of acquiring Wallenford Coffee Company in 2013
from the Jamaican Government. Wallenford historically has
been the largest cultivator of Jamaica Blue Mountain and
Jamaica High Mountain coffee.
Portland is committed to “Building Strong Indigenous
Businesses”. Equally important, these businesses must also seek
to improve the social well-being of the communities in which
they operate. Michael formally established as the Portland
mantra – “prosperitas cum caritate” – which in Latin speaks to
his goal that businesses must “not only do well, but also do good” –
that is the measure of success.
Among his many personal accomplishments, in October
2008, Michael was awarded one of Jamaica’s highest national
honours; the Order of Jamaica for his signifi cant contributions
in business and philanthropy. Michael has received Doctor
of Laws degrees from a number of distinguished universities
including: McMaster University, University of Toronto,
Northern Caribbean University, Wilfrid Laurier University, the
University of the West Indies and York University. In October
2011, Michael was appointed Chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier
University and was reappointed for a second term in 2015.
On April 27, 2016, Michael was appointed Chair of the
Government of Jamaica’s newly established Economic Growth
Council (“EGC”). In an effort to bolster economic development,
Michael is tasked with leading a team from the private and
public sectors, to advise the Government of Jamaica on the
adoption of a framework of growth initiatives.
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