Caledonian, a firm that was founded by the late William Walker, one of Cayman’s financial services industry pioneers has recently been sold to New World Holdings. It was a decision that was emotional for the Walker family but ultimately in the best interest of the company, says David Walker, son of Bill Walker and formerly the CEO of the group.
The name of William Walker is inextricably linked with the development of the financial services industry in Cayman. The founder of Caledonian more than 40 years ago was a visionary in that he saw the potential of the Islands for such an industry to flourish at a time when few people did, noted Cayman Monetary Authority Chairman George McCarthy at a recent celebratory event for Caledonian at Camana Bay.
During the 41 years of its existence the group has seen many changes. Most recently the sale of the firm to New World Holdings, a privately held investment company in the Cayman Islands, pointed the group into a new direction.
David Walker explained that with the death of his father the ownership of Caledonian was passed to a family trust. “The trustees felt that the company would be best managed by a hands-on shareholder group who were active in the management of the company.” He said that New World and their management team were seen as an ideal fit for Caledonian for a number of important reasons.
“First, Kobi Dorenbush and Barry McQuain, who are acting as joint CEOs, are both very experienced financial services professionals with deep expertise and wide reaching contacts and they will bring leadership and initiative to the company. Second, New World owns a number of complementary businesses, which will help create exciting opportunities for Caledonian,” Walker said.
Given the legacy of the company and the fact that the business had been such an important part of the family heritage, the decision was not easy, he insisted.
“The decision to sell was very emotional for the family, but ultimately we felt that it was in the best interests of the company and the quickest path to the next stage of the firm’s development. We always cherished the family values that we brought to Caledonian’s business and we looked for a successor who would operate with the same sensibilities.”
Walker said the new management team, all of whom are shareholders, share many of the same values as the Walker family and have worked together for many years much like a family.
“I believe that New World will take Caledonian forward at an accelerated pace and that my father’s vision for the firm will be realised more quickly under their stewardship.” According to Walker the transition period has been embraced by both the employees and clients of Caledonian and everyone is galavanised by the energy and enthusiasm the new team brings to the company.”
In terms of immediate changes to the group, Walker has passed his CEO title to Dorenbush and McQuain and there have been some slight realignments of responsibilities internally but no substantive change to the management structure.
“The management has already introduced a number of exciting initiatives and are proving to be the catalyst for growth we expected,” said Walker. “Barry and Kobi embody Caledonian’s long-standing work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit and over the coming months Caledonian will take a more active role in transaction related lines of business, such as investment banking and corporate finance and will be expanding current products and offering new ones through planned joint ventures and strategic acquisitions.”
Dorenbush and McQuain for their part explain that Caledonian is a strategic fit for their business ventures.
“We have invested in and operate a number of different businesses that are all complementary to Caledonian and we saw this opportunity to be the perfect fit for the enhancement of our business network,” said Dorenbush. “For example, we own a technology company that builds bespoke software for financial institutions and another company that provides fund administration (front, middle and back office).“
Going forward the plan is to inject new capital into Caledonian and increase the range of services that Caledonian offers through the integration of other businesses within the network, added McQuain. In short Caledonian seeks to expand at a time when there is industry consolidation.
At the same time Caledonian will remain Cayman Islands based business and there will be no changes in any key personnel, McQuain said.
“In fact, the new ownership will look to enhance and build off of what is already in place by creating a high-end, ‘premium service’ quality for our clients,” he added.
Walker is confident that the new owners of Caledonian will take Caledonian to new heights “through their leadership, drive and enthusiasm”. And he concluded: “I am excited about their plans for the future and take great pleasure in seeing my father’s dream of building a truly international financial services firm develop and flourish under their stewardship.”.