Fiddich Review Centre
Alternative Investment

Ultra Financier deploys $250 million in loans

HENRIQUES…as we continue to build out our team and expand our client base, 2023 has a lot of things in store for us

Ultra Financier Limited has demonstrated proof of concept in under two months as it lent $250 million (US$1.63 million) in the burgeoning luxury asset-based lending space in Jamaica.

Ultra began operations on October 21 as a wholly owned subsidiary of licensed microcredit firm Dolla Financial Services Limited with David Henriques installed as its chief executive officer on November 1. The company touts itself on speed and privacy of its service which sees them lend from $500,000 to $150 million against non-traditional assets such as luxury watches, luxury and classic cars, property, jewellery, designer handbags, and luxury yachts.

“We are absolutely elated and excited about the fact that the uptake has been so great for Ultra and the business model so far. We knew that there was a space for it in the market and knew that we would do well, but how well it’s been in the first two months is absolutely amazing. We’re really happy and looking to build and hit some big targets in the quarter to come,” said Henriques in a call with the Jamaica Observer last week.

Henriques revealed that loans have been as short as two months up to a year and have lent against high value properties in affluent areas, fleets of vehicles and select financial assets. As a result, the company holds about $1 billion in collateral relative to the $250-million loan book. The entire lending process is done via the company’s website

Examples of other luxury-based lenders include California-based Luxury Asset Lending which gave examples of case studies for its business. This included lending against US$110,000 for four months against a 2007 Lamborghini Murcielago which was referred to them by a car dealership.

When the Business Observer asked about the need for additional funding for growth, Henriques said, “We had initially planned to take $350 million from that [Dolla] bond. We still have the full support of Dolla. So, if we need to tap into some more funds, it is accessible to us. We want to track it and ensure that we don’t overextend ourselves, but we continue to push as hard as we can. Because of fairly quick turnarounds in these loans and the principal being paid back, we’ll regain some of that capital to lend again.”

Ultra’s entry into the Jamaican lending space also reinforces the alternative investment space which has seen more firms entering the space in recent times. Barita Investments Limited and NCB Capital Markets Limited have established alternative investment platforms while the Sygnus Group has three affiliates in the private credit, real estate and equity space.

President of the Caribbean Alternative Investment Association (CARAIA) Berisford Grey mentioned in a September interview that the non-profit entity is focused on strengthening the alternative investment space through data and market intelligence along with educating the market on alternative investments.

“There is definitely a large space for alternative lending, but I think once we can manage to maintain competitive rates and keep our service A class, discreet, quick, I think we’ll continue to thrive,” Henriques added.

Ultra’s formation has pushed Dolla’s consolidated loan book up from $1.17 billion at the end of September to $1.70 billion. The growth in Dolla’s loan book has been funded from the $250 million it received from its June initial public offering (IPO) and $1.17 billion bond raise in October. The company started the year with a loan book of $750.50 million and is looking at The Bahamas and other Caribbean markets to expand its presence. It currently has a subsidiary in Georgetown, Guyana, which will be opening another office in Berbice shortly.

Dolla Chief Executive Officer Kadeen Mairs will be taking on the responsibilities related to the chief strategy officer after Deveta McLaren resigned last Friday. Dolla’s stock price is down 11 per cent for the quarter to $2.83, but remains above its $1 IPO price.

“People are looking for that quick bridge loan to get them into that project and meet any financial obligations that they need to resolve in a quick span of time. As we continue to build out our team and expand our client base, 2023 has a lot of things in store for us,” Henriques closed.

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