Blick to head commodities and derivatives exchange
Cayman Enterprise City announced a shuffling of its top posts last week, with Caymanian Charlie Kirkconnell taking over as the company’s chief executive officer.
The company, which operates Cayman’s first and only special economic zone, also said that outgoing CEO Jason Blick will remain a shareholder and director of Cayman Enterprise City and take on a new role as chairman of the Cayman Commodities and Derivatives Exchange.
Cindy O’Hara, chairwoman of Cayman Enterprise City, said the board of directors was pleased with the transition and its timing.
“It was always our intention for Jason to impart his special economic zone expertise as CEO whilst getting CEC launched and fully operational,” Ms O’Hara said. “Now that we are developing some critical mass as far as clients, systems, processes and offerings are concerned, and our world-class team is fully trained, the timing for this transition is perfect as we approach the New Year.”
Mr. Kirkconnell became involved with Cayman Enterprise City as a shareholder in late 2011 and then began working for the company on a full-time basis in January 2012. He initially served in an operations role before becoming the company’s chief strategy officer.
“It has been an incredible journey over the past year and a half, learning the special economic zone business licensing model and this industry from the ground up, working alongside Jason and the team to develop the operations of our unique zone,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.
Given the small size of Cayman Enterprise City’s staff, Mr. Kirkconnell doesn’t foresee major changes in his duties with the company.
“Jason, Cindy and I were functioning as the executive team already.”
One aspect of his role that will change involves Cayman Enterprise City’s dealing with the Cayman Islands government.
“I’ll now take the face-to-face lead on that relationship,” he said.
Mr. Kirkconnell said his new role wouldn’t be the only change in the Cayman Enterprise City team in the New Year, noting that there are plans to add new staff members.
“We’re looking to add some business development managers to augment our current sales efforts,” he said.
In its first 11 months of business, Cayman Enterprise City signed up 43 new companies to move into its gateway buildings. It said there were another 130 active prospects in the sales pipeline. Once it hits a specific threshold of tenant space rented, Cayman Enterprise City will commence construction on permanent home on a yet-to-be specified site in the Savannah area of Grand Cayman.
Cayman Commodities and Derivatives Exchange
Ms O’Hara praised Mr. Blick for his contributions to Cayman Enterprise City so far.
“It was Jason’s great vision that conceived Cayman Enterprise City and his tireless effort and tenacity that have helped make CEC a reality,” she said. “Over the past two years, we have worked together cohesively to create and launch what we intend will become the finest special economic zone in the world.”
Mr. Blick will focus his energy on launching the Cayman Commodities and Derivatives Exchange, something Ms O’Hara said was a critical platform for the Cayman Enterprise City’s Commodities and Derivatives Park – one of six industry specific sectors of the special economic zone.
The Commodities and Derivatives Exchange, which is a separate entity with a different ownership structure than that of Cayman Enterprise City, will be the trading structure in which the tenants of the CEC’s Commodities and Derivatives Park operate.
Mr. Blick said the Commodities and Derivatives Exchange, which will also be a tenant of Cayman Enterprise City, will not compete with the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, but instead will complement that entity. He added that a commodities and derivatives exchange was something that was noticeably missing in Cayman.
“The Cayman Islands is the only top-50 financial services jurisdiction that doesn’t have a commodities and derivatives exchange,” he said. The formation of a commodities and derivatives exchange was always a part of the overall plan for Cayman Enterprise City, Mr. Blick said, adding that although efforts were concentrated on other areas up to now, the timing is right to push for the creation of the new exchange.
Not only has there already been a lot of interest in Cayman Enterprise City by commodities companies, but imminent events in the United States were likely to increase that interest, he said.
“We would like to leverage the opportunities being created by Dodd-Frank,” he said, referring to US legislation that affects financial services companies and is forcing many commodities traders to seek domiciles outside the US.
Mr. Blick said that Cayman’s commodities and derivatives exchange would be the only one not in the Middle East that is in a special economic zone, which would make it attractive to traders on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Having these traders established in Grand Cayman would give various professional firms here business that normally stays in New York and London, Mr. Blick said.
Provisions for the commodities and derivatives exchange were part of an overall agreement the Cayman Islands government signed with Cayman Enterprise City, but Mr. Blick said it would still take some legislative amendments before it could be opened.
“We’re keen to move forward as early as [the second quarter of 2013], but that all depends on the government,” he said.
Although he will no longer function in a executive role for Cayman Enterprise City, Mr. Blick said he would still be involved in various ways.
“I look forward to remaining as a director and shareholder of CEC and continuing to develop business channels and opportunities together with the CEC Sales team,” he said. “Now that CEC is well and truly off and running, I am pleased to be able to focus on the Cayman Commodities and Derivatives Exchange, which will bring tremendous opportunities to the Cayman Islands.”