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Michael Lee-Chin

Michael Lee-Chin

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The Honourable
The Honourable
The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable is a style used before the names of certain classes of persons. It is considered an honorific styling.-International diplomacy:...

 Michael Lee-Chin, OJ
Order of Jamaica
The Order of Jamaica is the fourth of the five ranks in the Jamaican honours system. The Order was established in 1969, and is considered the equivalent of knighthood in the British honours system....

 (born 1951) is a Jamaican-Canadian
Jamaican Canadian
Jamaican Canadians are Canadians of Jamaican descent, or Jamaican-born people with Canadian citizenship. The population, according to Canada's 2006 Census, is 231,110. Jamaican Canadians comprise about 30% of the entire black Canadian population.-History:...

 investor. He is the founder and Chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., a privately held investment company which owns a collection of diversified operating companies in sectors that include media, tourism, health care telecommunications and financial services. Amongst other positions, he is currently Executive Chairman of AIC Limited
AIC Limited
AIC Limited is a Canadian mutual fund company which commenced operations in 1985, as Total Finance. AIC was purchased in 1987, by Michael Lee-Chin, Chairman, and has assets under management of just over $5.6 billion as of May 2008 IFIC numbers...

 (a Canadian mutual fund), and the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. In the latest Forbes Billionaires List, he was placed at number 701, with assets worth around $1.0 billion. (Though Lee-Chin's wealth has been as high as $2.5 billion in the past.) Canadian Business
Canadian Business
Canadian Business is the longest-publishing business magazine in Canada. It was founded in 1928 as The Commerce of the Nation, the organ of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The magazine was renamed Canadian Business in 1933...

has named him as one of the richest people in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. He is also a philanthropist. In 2003, he made headlines when he donated $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum
Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum is a museum of world culture and natural history in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. With its main entrance facing Bloor Street in Downtown Toronto, the museum is situated north of Queen's Park and east of Philosopher's Walk in the University of Toronto...

 (ROM). Michael Lee-Chin also provided a $10 million gift to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The gift established the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. The Lee-Chin Institute's purpose is to help current and future business leaders integrate corporate citizenship into business strategy and practices. (http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/lee-chininstitute)


|coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher=Globe Advisor |pages= |archiveurl= |archivedate=}} Chin also had a son from a previous relationship, and the couple had a further 7 children together, including 6 boys and 1 girl.
His mother sold Avon
Avon Products
Avon Products, Inc. is a US cosmetics, perfume and toy seller with markets in over 140 countries across the world and sales of $9.9 billion worldwide as of 2007.-Business Model:...

 products, and worked as a book-keeper for various local firms, while his stepfather ran a local grocery store.
He attended the local high school, Titchfield High, between 1962 and 1969.

His first job came in 1965 working as part of the landscaping team at the Frenchman's Cove Hotel. In 1966 he got a summer job working on the Jamaica Queen cruise ship, cleaning the engine room.


In 1970 he went to Canada on a scholarship program sponsored by the Jamaican Government to study Civil Engineering
Civil engineering
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings...

 at McMaster University
McMaster University
McMaster University is a public research university whose main campus is located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is located on of land in the residential neighbourhood of Westdale, adjacent to Hamilton's Royal Botanical Gardens...

and graduated in 1974.
In the first year at the University, he was spending by his own money. After the first summer, he received the scholarship.


He worked briefly as a road engineer for the Jamaican Government,
but unable to find work in his qualified field (and allegedly, because his Canadian wife didn't like living in Jamaica), he returned to Canada. At first he worked as a bouncer, but later found employment as a financial advisor for Investors Group.

He spent two years at the Investors Group, in the Hamilton, Ontario office and in 1979, moved to Regal Capital Planners and became regional manager. Whilst at the company, in 1983, he secured a loan from the Continental Bank of Canada
Continental Bank of Canada
The Continental Bank of Canada was a chartered bank formed in Canada when IAC, a financing company, decided to expand the scope of operations in the 1980s. This small bank struggled for several years before being acquired by Lloyds Bank of the United Kingdom. Continental Bank became "Lloyds Bank of...

 for C$500,000 to purchase a stake in Mackenzie Financial Group and formed Kicks Athletics with Andrew Gayle. By 1987, the investment was worth C$3.5 million.

In 1987, took the proceeds from his Mackenzie investment and he bought a Kitchener
Kitchener, Ontario
The City of Kitchener is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada. It was the Town of Berlin from 1854 until 1912 and the City of Berlin from 1912 until 1916. The city had a population of 204,668 in the Canada 2006 Census...

-based company called the Advantage Investment Council (a division of AIC Limited) for $200,000. At the time, the company had holdings of around C$800,000. He renamed the company AIC, and developed it to a fund that today controls around C$6 Billion, with hundreds of thousands of investors.

Following the acquisition of AIC Limited, Lee-Chin set up the Berkshire group of companies – comprising an investment planning arm, a securities dealership and an insurance operation. By 2007, Berkshire amassed more than C$12 billion of assets under administration. In 2007, Manulife acquired Berkshire from Portland Holdings in exchange for shares, making Portland one of the largest shareholders of Manulife.

In 2009, Lee-Chin sold AIC Limited to Manulife for an undisclosed amount. With the acquisition, Manulife Securities will now manage some $13 + billion in mutual fund assets in Canada.

Investments 1990 - 2005

In the late 1980s, AIC suffered from a collapse in the real estate market, in which it had invested. It recovered throughout the early 1990s by maintaining investments in large groups, such as Merrill Lynch
Merrill Lynch
Merrill Lynch is the wealth management division of Bank of America. With over 15,000 financial advisors and $2.2 trillion in client assets it is the world's largest brokerage. Formerly known as Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., prior to 2009 the firm was publicly owned and traded on the New York...

 and TD bank (formerly Toronto Dominion). This caused investments to grow from US$8 million in 1990 to nearly US$8 billion by 1998.

However, Lee-Chin was reluctant to invest in the dotcom boom, and saw AIC investments lose 8 per cent in value, even as the S&P gained 56 per cent. Investors moved US$224 million out of AIC's flagship 'Advantage Mutual Fund'. The Globe and Mail ran an article predicting even more investors to leave the fund, meaning that they would run out of cash and be forced to sell its core holdings. Lee-Chin's response was to sell stock in Coca-Cola, and invest US$65 million into Mackenzie Holdings (the same firm in which he had invested US$400,000 16 years previously). Letters were sent to all 350,000 investors, explaining the strategy. The investors were calmed by the purchase, and the stock was later sold to Investor Group (the same company Lee-Chin had worked for in the 1980s) at more than twice the price AIC had paid for it. In 2000 and 2001, following the dotcom crash, AIC outperformed the market with 26 per cent growth and 4 per cent decline respectively.

In November 2003, AIC was part of a regulatory investigation involving 105 Canadian mutual funds companies. In its review of AIC, investigators found no evidence of late trading and market timing activity by AIC staff or in any of its funds. It did find however, market timing carried out by certain third party investors in AIC Funds. For this, the OSC
Ontario Securities Commission
The Ontario Securities Commission is a regulatory agency which administers and enforces securities legislation in the Canadian province of Ontario...

 fined AIC US$58.8 million for its involvement.

On October 5, 2006, Lee-Chin announced his resignation as CEO of AIC, to be replaced by Jonathan Wellum, AIC's chief investment officer.

In 2005, two investment product managers offering structured products joined the Portland Holdings portfolio, Copernican Capital Corporation has offered retail investment products, primarily sold by brokers, and has raised more than C$300 million since its launch. Markland Street Asset Management, which launched the Oil Sands Sector Fund, raised C$430 million in one of Canada's largest closed-end IPOs.

Private life

In 1974, he married Vera Lee-Chin, a Ukrainian Canadian that he had met at University. They parted in 1991, and officially separated (though did not divorce) in 1997. Ms. Lee-Chin has since contested the terms of the separation agreement agreed upon at their separation, claiming that Lee-Chin did not disclose his actual wealth at the time of the separation. The couple had three children (Michael Jr., Paul, and Adrian).

Lee-Chin now lives with Sonya Hamilton, with whom he has fraternal-twin daughters, Elizabeth and Maria in Flamborough
Flamborough, Ontario
Flamborough is a former town near, and a current community in, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada....

, near Hamilton, Ontario, and Miami Beach, Florida.

Investment in Caribbean

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 went through a period of financial crisis.
Lee-Chin saw potential in his native country, and Portland purchased 75 per cent of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica for 6 billion Jamaican dollars (US$127 million) from the Jamaican Government.

In 2003, Senvia Money Services Inc., a global money transfer company was established. This was followed in 2004, by the acquisition of AIC Financial Group Limited, headquartered in Trinidad.

In 2004, he announced plans to set up the AIC Caribbean Fund with the intention of investing in the entire Caribbean region. The stated aim of the fund is to raise US$1 billion in order to "make investments in businesses located in countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with an emphasis on Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago". So far, it has made a number of large-scale investments.

In 2006, Portland acquired an 85 per cent controlling stake in the United General Insurance Company, the largest auto insurer in Jamaica, and renamed the firm Advantage General Insurance Company. A controlling interest in CVM Communications Group (consisting of radio and television stations and newspapers) was purchased at the same time.

Portland partnered with the Canadian Risley Group
John Risley
John Risley, OC is a Canadian businessman with major financial interests in fisheries, food supplements, and communications. Based in Chester, Nova Scotia, he is one of the 100 richest people in Canada. His wealth in 2009 was estimated to be $830 million.-Early life and career:He was born in...

 to form Columbus Communications Ltd. – a Barbadian corporation that holds controlling interest in a number of telecommunications providers in the Caribbean including Cable Bahamas Ltd. Caribbean Crossings Ltd., Merit Communications Ltd. And FibralLink Jamaica Ltd.

In the tourism sector, Michael guided Portland through a number of acquisitions in the Caribbean. Among them, the hospitality operations of the Trident Villas and Spa in Jamaica, Reggae Beach and Blue Lagoon.
Portlands first acquisition in the health care industry sector was announced in July 2006, when Medical Associates Ltd., a privately held hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, joined the Portland Group.

Commodities boom

Similar to the experience of the late 1990s, Lee-Chin again has shied away from investing in commodities and the energy market boom. He has specifically stated that "We [AIC] do not like commodities-type businesses nor most high-tech companies simply because they are implicitly poor enterprises which we would not want to hold for the long term".

Again, this strategy has meant that AIC has significantly underperformed the S&P index, but Lee-Chin believes that the current boom is just another bubble. Lee-Chin describes the market since 1990 as "a series of rolling speculations", and now 'we see a commodities bubble'.

Business strategy

While at Investors Group, he studied the strategies of successful investors, such as Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett
Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. Often introduced as "legendary investor, Warren Buffett", he is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is...

, Benjamin Graham
Benjamin Graham
Benjamin Graham was an American economist and professional investor. Graham is considered the first proponent of value investing, an investment approach he began teaching at Columbia Business School in 1928 and subsequently refined with David Dodd through various editions of their famous book...

 and Kenneth Thomson. Their buy and hold
Buy and hold
Buy and hold is a long-term investment strategy based on the view that in the long run financial markets give a good rate of return despite periods of volatility or decline. This viewpoint also holds that short-term market timing, i.e...

 strategy is easily recognisable in the motto of AIC - Buy, hold and prosper.

Business ventures owned or operated by Michael Lee Chin

  • Columbus Communications
    Columbus Communications
    Columbus Communications is a cable television and telecommunications company based in Freeport, Bahamas, serving markets in the Caribbean and Latin America....

  • Cable Bahamas - http://www.cablebahamas.com/
  • Caribbean Crossings - http://www.caribbeancrossings.com/
  • Columbus Communications Jamaica Ltd. / Flow Jamaica - http://www.flowjamaica.com/
  • FibraLink - http://www.fibralink.com/
  • CVM Television Group - http://www.cvmtv.com/
  • Merit Communications - http://www.meritcom.net/
  • New World Network - http://www.nwncable.com/
  • Americas Region Caribbean Optical-ring System
    -Portugal:* Arcos , a civil parish in the municipality of Anadia* Arcos , a civil parish in the municipality of Braga* Arcos , a civil parish in the municipality of Estremoz...

  • Sauce Cable Company
  • Affordable Enterprise Ltd.
  • Cabana Cable Ltd.
  • Dynamic Corp, a company in the making Eastern Cable Network Ltd.
  • Home Commercial Satellite Ltd.
  • Universal Cable Network Ltd.
  • Columbus Communications Trinidad Ltd/Flow Trinidad - http://www.flowtrinidad.com/
  • Columbus Communications Grenada Ltd/Flow Grenada - http://www.flowgrenada.com/
    • Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline Company (ECGPC)
    • National Commercial Bank of Jamaica (NCB) - http://www.jncb.com/
    • Radio Jamaica - http://www.radiojamaica.com/
    • Reggae Beach
      Reggae Beach
      Reggae Beach is a 250 acre property located in Jamaica, mid-way between Ocho Rios and Oracabessa. The beach is a beautiful long stretch of sand protected by cliffs on either end. Reggae Beach is known as one of the quieter, less-crowded beaches in Jamaica and is considered as one of the island’s...

       (resort), Jamaica
    • Senvia - http://www.senvia.com/
    • Total Finance Bank of Trinidad & Tobago Ltd.
    • Trident Hotel (Resort) - http://www.tridentjamaica.com/

External links