African Billionaire Eyes Caribbean Investment

An African billionaire is eyeing the Caribbean markets as he looks to explore investing in the region.

Billionaire Tony Elumelu, who made his fortune in banking, oil, and healthcare, the Nigerian chairman of United Bank of Africa (UBA), made the disclosure on Thursday, the final day of the annual Jamaica Stock Exchange Investments and Capital Markets Conference.

“We have a customer base of over 25 million around the globe. We are not in the Caribbean, but that is something we will explore when I come to Jamaica with the CEO of UBA Americas operation,” Elumelu said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

Elumelu indicated that he would meet with politicians on his visit to Jamaica later this year, at an unspecified date, in furtherance of his interest.

The investor gave no indication of specific sectors of investment exploration, only noting during questioning from conference participants that tourism was the best area of mutual investment between Jamaica and Africa.

United Bank of Africa is present in 20 African countries, including key financial centers of New York, Paris, London, Cayman, and Dubai. It is the only African bank with a deposit-taking license in America, the UBA chairman said.

Apart from being chairman of UBA, Elumelu is the founder and chairman of Heirs Holdings and Heirs Oil & Gas, and co-founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation. He made Time Magazine’s top 100 Most Influential People, and various sources put his wealth at US$1 billion to US$2 billion.

“We must ensure that the cultural linkages that connect Africa and the diaspora are strengthened, not weakened,” he said. “Let us talk from the heart how to foster greater collaboration between Africa and the Caribbean and the role we all have to play.”

Elumelu was the most notable overseas participant at the JSE conference, with plans to explore investments in Jamaica. Otherwise, the conference panels featured Ekow Afedzie, managing director of the Ghana Stock Exchange; Dr Melida Harris Barrow, the founder and chairman at 6 Region Global Chamber of Commerce; and Olga Cantillo, executive vice-president and CEO of the Panama Stock Exchange.

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