Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Foreign Direct Investment [FDI] - How practical and accessible is it?

For most who have become frustrated with the available local funding options for one reason or another, there are some who have decided to explore other options. This comes against the backdrop of governments suggesting urging business owners to expand outside of our jurisdictions, export more and seek to expand. 

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is often discussed and seems to be seldom understood, even by those within the financial sector. It would appear that the various entities responsible for overseeing these types of transactions seem to be more than apprehensive about such transactions. What do I mean? 

The organizations:
  • Don't seem to trust the source of funds and don't really seem to be able to assist in the provision of due diligence/even be able to advise on the process of due diligence that is available. There seems to be a fear of making a mistake permeating the various entities. 
  • The entities that are in authority of such transactions don't seem to relate to each other. Why do I say that? Their information isn't synchronized and at times can seem to be conflicting. The organizations don't appear to even have a relationship with each other. This comment is made from the outside looking in. 
  • There is no clear methodology to advise the public how to go about seeking and attracting FDI. So that even when entities successfully attract such interests, there's always a catch 22 that frustrates the process. 
Is FDI worth it? 
It seems to be more of a hassle than anything else. Why one has to go through a number of compliance steps in order to become compliant which usually is expensive, only to be told that there's an absurd aspect that prohibits the deal from being completed. This can even happen after getting authorisation from the Central Bank, meeting previous compliance standards, being legally compliant, then you get snagged on a technicality that could have been prohibited if you had the necessary guidance from the outset. It's a hard lesson to learn. 

In many cases, investors ask how come the banks are not jumping at these deals locally. They then decide to fund the transaction(s) completely [100% funding]. With seeming low-interest rates; until the payback is calculated in full. Then you see the hidden elements of the deal. Here's what I mean:
  • Investors reserve the right to divest of the investment to other investors, which means you totally lose control of the ownership and who you can do business with. Often these contracts don't seem to have the first right to refusal. 
  • You must have the insurance sums to prepay and secure your commitment to show that you're serious about doing business in the first place. This insurance acts as your security to participate in the transaction and can be quite expensive. 
  • Defaults in repayment offer little recourse on the part of the investors who ensure that they clearly state what must and must not happen. 
There are other considerations and these examples are not exhausted by any means. If you're going to be in business, you need a strong team in order to build a business confidently and transparently that people can trust. 

Richard Blades functions in business development primarily in Barbados and regionally as we serve to help businesses do it right when planning their strategy. 

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