By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Sebas Bastian raised nearly $19m from investors to finance the acquisition of an e-commerce platform that he yesterday said will become an “Amazon like” presence in The Bahamas and region.
The Island Luck co-founder, unveiling the arrival of his Aeropost purchase in this nation, pledged that it will offer the “lowest bar entry” for businesses looking to sell their products and services to Bahamian consumers via the online portal it offers.
Documents seen by Tribune Business reveal that Mr Bastian acquired Aeropost in October 2021 via Click Partners LP, a British Virgin Islands (BVI) domiciled limited partnership described in promotional material as a “digital, e-commerce, logistics and operations expert”.
And filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the US capital markets regulator, disclose that Click Partners raised some $18.737m from 20 unidentified investors in late September 2021 to finance the purchase.
The ‘Form D’ filing, which gives notice of an “exempt” securities offering, said Click Partners had sold equity ownership interests in “a pooled investment fund” to raise the necessary capital. The BVI partnership had initially sought to raise $24.273m, but ultimately settled for a sum some $5.526m below this target - a development that did not affect its plans.
The offering’s proceeds were to be passed on to a Click Partners subsidiary, and employed “to acquire a business” - namely Aeropost. Click Partners LP’s address is listed as No.1 University Drive, Nassau, Bahamas, and the partnership’s contact number is Mr Bastian’s personal cell phone.
The Island Luck co-founder, speaking at Aeropost’s official launch, said the “Amazon like” e-commerce marketplace will focus on the Caribbean and Central American region, and be a vehicle that allows small businesses to sell their products online through its portal.
Describing what differentiates Aeropost from its competitors, Mr Bastian said it will direct sell as well as acting as a middleman between other vendors and consumers. The Bahamas has become the latest addition to the 38 territories it already services.
“We have our own catalogue where we have direct seller relationships,” he added. “We also have an integration with some of the major retailers; one is Amazon. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for on our catalogue and our search bar, you can copy and paste the link from any website.
“So if you’re browsing on Google or Amazon, when you see a product you can just copy the product link, paste it in Aeropost’s search bar, hit the search button, and in seconds you will be presented with a fully landed price of that actual item. So, in that short space of time, it is actually calculating the shipping costs, the duty costs and the delivery costs into those regions.”
Aeropost will allow merchants to post their items on the platform’s catalogue, and arrange for their shipping and delivery to purchasers. Consumers will be able to pick up their goods from Aeorpost’s main fulfilment centre, or any Esso service station.
Asked if he intends to use Click Partners to acquire further businesses in the digital and technology space, Mr Bastian said his “eyes remain open” but did not confirm any upcoming deals. He added that Click Partners was incorporated in the BVI, and not The Bahamas, because it is a “global company and not a Caribbean-centric company”.
Mr Bastian added: “We operate in 38 countries, and for the ease of doing business across all those regions, we picked the jurisdiction for our parent company accordingly. Currently, Aeropost employs 700 employees throughout our entire company, and in The Bahamas, we have about 20-plus currently, and that’s going to continue to grow as we expand.”
The global supply chain crisis has also hit Aeropost’s business, with Mr Bastian lamenting: “As you can imagine, operating in 38 countries, we are experiencing delays in certain regions. The Bahamas isn’t one of them.
“Fortunately for us we are 183 miles from our headquarter logistics hub, which is in Miami, Florida, and there has been no reported supply chain delay or shipping in the supply chain into this region.”
A release announcing the Aeropost purchase identified a Canadian, Toronto-based entrepreneur called Adam Arviv as Mr Bastian’s partner in Click Bahamas. Research by this newspaper indicated that the two men come from similar backgrounds, with Mr Arviv named in Internet reports as one of the founders of Bragg Gaming, a gaming technology and content provider.
He was said to have left that company last year. Meanwhile, Mr Bastian was said to have been advised on the Aeropost deal by Simon Legge, who was identified on the SEC filing as a “director of the general partner”. A person of the same name is identified as Bragg Gaming’s head of mergers and acquisitions on their LinkedIn page.
The release said: “Click LP’s mission is to revolutionise the online shopping experience for retailers and consumers in Central America and Caribbean, building one of the largest e-commerce marketplace and smart-locker networks in the region and optimising last-mile delivery and service.
“Click was co-founded by Bahamian entrepreneur, Sebastian Bastian, and Toronto dealmaker, Adam Arviv, with Simon Legge acting as lead advisor to Bastian and Arviv, and stepping into the chief financial officer role at Click. This all-star team is in place to launch a massive smart-locker platform that will service 60m customers desperately in need of last mile e-commerce solutions.”
Aeropost was billed as having payment methods that allow consumers to buy US-sourced merchandise, with the acquisition combining its logistics and shipping operations with Click Partners’ smart locker technology. It was also said to be handling $400m worth of cross-border commerce annually.
Click Partners bought Aeropost from Nasdaq-listed PriceSmart. “In discussions with the Aeropost team, we quickly saw the great strategic fit with our business and the fantastic opportunity to build shareholder value that the combination represented,” said Mr Arviv, Click Partners’ founder.
“Putting Aeropost’s cross-border logistics and e-commerce capabilities together with Click’s marketplace technology and smart-locker network creates a comprehensive solution that will transform the market.”
“Our vision is to provide Caribbean and Central American vendors and consumers with an end-to-end solution, allowing them to access millions of products from around the world at affordable prices,” said Mr Bastian, named as Click Partners’ executive chair.
The deal also involved the purchase of 100 percent of Click to Collect West Indies, a smart-locker and marketplace technology provider, from Wyyse Technologies Group in a related party deal. Mr Bastian is Wyyse’s founder and co-chair, with Philip Simon, ex-Chamber of Commerce executive director, listed as one of its directors.
The Aeropost purchase is likely a further example of how Mr Bastian is using Island Luck’s web shop gaming profits, and market-leading status, to help finance expansion of his business empire. He has previously launched Brickell Management Group and Vandoff Construction, entering real estate and construction, as well as launching into financial services and insurance via Investar Securities and BMG Insurance Agents & Brokers.
The Click Partners move, together with Wyyse Technologies, takes Mr Bastian back into the digital economy, with the former likely to be employed as a private equity/venture capital style investment vehicle.