The International Securities Market: Milestones to Measure Success

By Barry Blenman, Operations Supervisor, and Terry Belgrave, ISM Business Development Associate, Barbados Stock Exchange (30/06/2018)


The International Securities Market (ISM) is a flexible, global platform for international companies and worldwide investors. It operates as a separate market of the Barbados Stock Exchange (BSE) and offers international securities trading for qualified investors and a variety of structuring opportunities to international business companies.

The First Milestone: ISM Market Launch

The ISM was officially launched on 15 March 2016. For the board, management and staff of the BSE this was an especially momentous occasion that would closely follow the demutualization  of the Exchange. More than a milestone, the launch of the ISM further repositioned the BSE strategically into becoming a global market for the listing, trading and settlement of international securities.

The ISM’s launch also solidified the BSE’s commitment to the International Business and Financial Services (IBFS) sector in Barbados. The IBFS sector is comprised of internationally recognized law firms, Big Four accounting firms, chartered banks and trust companies that have supported subsidiaries of several leading international corporations.

The Government of Barbados is committed to transforming Barbados into the international financial wealth and management centre of choice in the western hemisphere. The availability of the ISM platform, and its use within the IBFS sector, will be of great assistance to the Barbados government in achieving its noteworthy objective.

The Second Milestone: Procuring Listing Sponsors

The BSE hosted several strategic meetings, post market launch, with leading practitioners from Barbados’ IBFS sector. Conducting these meetings was essential: IBFS professionals are internationally certified, highly educated and well connected. Though important in their own right, it certainly didn’t hurt that these attributes were also of immeasurable importance to international business companies (IBCs) in Barbados.

While not inhibitive, a common concern emerged during this consultative process: wouldn’t prospects, when considering an ISM listing, require some familiarity – and/or comfort – with Barbados? This was a perceptive concern that would hamper the ISM’s initial efforts at attracting quality professionals to the market.

The BSE devised a two-phased promotional strategy to overcome this malaise:

  First, ISM awareness was raised at local, regional and international levels. This meant clearly defining and communicating the roles of Listed Companies/Issuers, Listing Sponsors,  Trading Members  and Clearing Agents.  Further, along with promoting the general upsides of doing business in Barbados, the BSE delineated both the qualitative and strategic benefits of listing securities on the ISM.

  Second, the Exchange aggressively promoted the listing sponsor role to the IBFS sector. This was a strategic – if not imperative – decision: IBCs, when looking to do business in Barbados, generally regard IBFS professionals as the primary points of contact on the island. The BSE proffered a tailored pitch: assist the Exchange by securing listings for the ISM and your organization will benefit from an accompanying expansion in your professional services.

The BSE’s efforts were rewarded on 14 September 2016 when Centurion ISM Services Inc was duly registered as the first Listing Sponsor for the ISM. Centurion ISM Services Inc is an affiliate of Chancery Chambers and Centurion Assurance Services Ltd. The former was founded in 1977 and provides a full complement of legal services to both national and international clients. Centurion Assurance Services is a management company which offers predominantly responsive and professional captive insurance management services amongst other related services.

On 26 September 2016, the ISM registered its second Listing Sponsor – ListAssist Services (Barbados) Ltd – an affiliate of Clarke Gittens Farmer. Clarke Gittens Farmer is a leading commercial law firm in Barbados that provides comprehensive legal services for both domestic and international corporate and private clients. Their corporate and commercial services include banking and financial transactions, property transactions, securities law, patent and intellectual property law, insolvency and commercial litigation while their international financial services practice serves multinationals, international business companies, exempt and qualifying insurance companies.

DGM Trust Corporation was the third Listing Sponsor. This company was registered on 26 June 2017 and is a member of the DGM Financial Group (DGM), which has provided comprehensive international financial services to individuals, trusts, corporate and captive insurance clients worldwide for the last 20 years. DGM Trust Corporation is licensed in Barbados to provide a comprehensive range of trustee and corporate services to individual and corporate clients.

On 19 July 2017, Deloitte Consulting Ltd, an affiliate of Deloitte in Barbados, became the fourth registered Listing Sponsor. Deloitte in Barbados is part of the Caribbean and Bermuda Countries (CBC) member firm and consists of seventy professionals and four partners. The firm serves clients in the banking, insurance, offshore finance, mining, services and manufacturing sectors, providing a full range of professional services including audit, tax, financial advisory and an extensive menu of consulting services.

The ISM’s most recent Listing Sponsor, ISM Sponsor Services Ltd was registered on 8 September 2017. As a part of the Lex Caribbean group (the ‘ISM/Lex Group’), ISM Sponsor Services Ltd collaborates closely with Lex Caribbean law firm and Lex Caribbean Corporate Services. It is a full-service listing sponsor for listings and subsequent regulatory maintenance on the ISM.

The Third Milestone: Productive Business Solutions Limited – the Inaugural Listing

The ISM was pleased to welcome Productive Business Solutions Limited (PBS) as its inaugural listing on 7 September 2017. PBS was duly registered after having successfully met the ISM’s Issuer Requirements.

Ultimately, PBS would be officially introduced to the market on 2 November 2017 in a listing ceremony held at BSE. This occasion also marked the successful cross-listing of PBS’ Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) traded security. The listing ceremony was attended by representatives of the lead arranger – CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, Listing Sponsor – ListAssist Services (Barbados) Ltd, broker representatives for the JSE listing – NCB Capital Markets (Barbados) Limited and representatives of PBS’ various subsidiaries. PBS listed two securities on the ISM – Productive Business Solutions Limited (PBSLO) and Productive Business Solutions Limited – Pref 9.75 per cent (PBSL975).

PBS is an international business company incorporated and licensed under the laws of Barbados. Paul B Scott, Chairman of the PBS Group, noted that the company made a deliberate decision to offer a secondary listing on the ISM to offer investors access to a regional company and support the vision for a more integrated and regional securities exchange.

Marlon Yarde, Managing Director of the BSE is delighted to have the PBS Group as the inaugural listing on the ISM since it was for companies such as PBS that the ISM was launched: “We at BSE will work assiduously to ensure that the confidence reposed in us will be fulfilled in support of PBS’ core values of respect and integrity.”

The Future

The BSE is proud to support the continued development of Barbados’ IBFS sector. The ISM’s inaugural listing – from a leading IT conglomerate in the Caribbean – is positive proof of the market’s appeal and strategic relevance in today’s competitive capital markets.

The ISM’s multi-dimensional offer of tax-efficient listings, global standards, transparency, and market access to reputable and competent service providers is a comprehensive value proposition that greatly supports the BSE goal of attracting quality business to Barbados.

The International Securities Market (ISM)

International best practice and a cost-effective structure – together with the backdrop of Barbados’ comprehensive tax & investment treaty network – combine to position the International Securities Market (ISM) as the global exchange of the future in the Western Hemisphere.

Our Value Proposition

Why the ISM?

The ISM operates from the heart of the Caribbean and pairs a uniquely international investor pool with the quality services of experienced market professionals. This provides a foundation of liquidity for companies looking to raise capital and improve their corporate visibility.

Why Barbados?

Barbados’ strategic focus on servicing legitimate companies of substance is a differentiating feature that lends appreciable credibility to the ISM. This stands in distinct contrast to the modus operandi of several competing jurisdictions.

Barbados offers the Caribbean’s most expansive investment and tax treaty network. With a framework of thirty-eight38 Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs), nine Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and four Tax Information Exchange Agreements, use of a Barbadian entity proffers compliant market access to companies seeking an array of international opportunities.

Global Standards

The ISM is complemented by the ancillary support of Barbados’ International Business and Financial Services (IBFS) sector. The IBFS sector is comprised of internationally recognised law firms, Big Four accounting firms, chartered banks and trust companies who have supported subsidiaries of international companies for over 25 years.