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Sebas Raises $19m For E-Commerce Purchase

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Sebas Bastian.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

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.

Comments

Sickened 5 months, 2 weeks ago

from zero to hero with just a few illegal gaming houses. Living the Bahamian dream. Congratulations on helping to destroy our once proud nation!

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Emilio26 5 months, 2 weeks ago

It sounds like you're jealous of Mr. Bastian.

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tribanon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

And you sound like the little creep you are.

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truetruebahamian 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Bastian has his hands in anything slimy. New name Slimy (C) Bastian .

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realitycheck242 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This New venture by Bastian will cause the death of many local retail shops and Freight forwarder companies.

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Emilio26 5 months, 2 weeks ago

realitycheck242 well too bad to sad besides people here in the Bahamas and around the world are coming up with new technology and ideas to give the old school businesses competition. That's just the way it is.

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tribanon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yup, you've certainly revealed yourself to be the little weasel of a creep many of us always suspected. LOL

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ohdrap4 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Not likely. The difference in price will be marginal as there us no escape from custons duties.

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Moca 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I checkout out the site too. You're right customs and duties you can't avoid. They have some good freight prices that seem to undercut the competition. I was quoted about $35 for shipping for a 32 or 40 inch TV. That's really good. But most likely it's a volume play as they can afford to do that ro gain market share. The other smaller players can't afford to go head to toe with a multi million dollar back company sadly. Especially with several locations across just Nassau for mow

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ohdrap4 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I did visit the site and searched for the exact item I just received from amazon through a local courier.

Their landed price was 1.20 more than what I paid,

You just run the risk of paying extra for volume weight when amazon places it in a bigger box.

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donald 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank God! If that is the case, he can get goods to the people for less. God knows it is ridiculously expensive in The Bahamas

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ohdrap4 5 months, 2 weeks ago

In the early 1990s, when amazon was incipient, there was a business that offered catalogues from Sears across from St Thomas Moore school. Did not last long because they would just add percentages corresponding to customs duties.

Even when Avon was around, you would pay the catalogue price plus 40%.

Maybe this will be special and offer duty free prices.

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Moca 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The biggest potential for this aeropost play is sending freight to various islands throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean. Aeropost or ClickBox has lockers in about 30 plus countries or so. Think of FedEx or USPS for our region. I can go to a locker location with a package or envelope and send it to Abaco the same or next day. Lockers locations are open sometimes 24/7. No need to go to FedEx or to the airport or ask someone to send something over the next flight. Thats a game changer. Not only freight forwarders but FedEx, DHL, UPS have competition in the Caribbean

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realitycheck242 5 months, 2 weeks ago

In addition, come the first quater next year. Ordinary Bahamians who have products to sell will be able to upload and sell their products locally and internationally from the website. No other local company offers that service This will help the many creative artist.and ordinary bahamians who make foods products sell them around the world. Thats game changing.

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ohdrap4 5 months, 2 weeks ago

That would be difficult, as local manufactures pay 40% duty on packaging.

When you visit the local food store , you see locally made jellies and jams, and often they cost 8-9 dollars, while you can even get tropical fruit jam from the caribben for half that. I recently saw a bottle of jam all the way from Greece for 4.45 on the shelf. Why 8 or 9 dollars? I assure you the bottle alone costs about 3 dollars, so your profit margin tanks.

Even if you were to knit sweaters to sell to the richer crowd, your cost of materials is subject to duties and the chinese make their own wool and hardly pay workers anything.

It is more likely that individulas will import items and put it up for sale on the site.

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Who knows where this will eventually land on the scale of progress. But someone needs to exercise some oversight on this conglomerate. It will not be a good thing if one man swallows the whole economy. Bank, hotel, construction, commercial property, car company, rental cars, road paving, marijuana? Look at what years of white monopoly has already done to the population. Not to mention too big to fail

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tribanon 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Bastian, Flowers, Fox, etc. are all big time criminal thugs unleashed on Bahamian society by the corrupy PLP political elite and equally corrupt former senior government officials who held positions in financial and other regulatory areas.

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 1 week ago

I get that. But that horse is out the barn, both the FNM and PLP appear to be beholding to these people. Yes we should try to corral it but there's signs of things that havent happened yet that we should prevent.

The other day the governor of the central bank made the Bloomberg top 50 for the Sand Dollar. Which is great John Rolle is a brilliant man and very deserving. But what would Bloomberg think of the moratorium placed on innovation to give an unfair advantage to 2 or 3 companies inclusive of Sand Dollar? I believe progressive societies view competition as a positive thing to better economies? Why hasnt the moratorium on gaming been removed? Havent they already recouped their investment 10 times?

Im talking about what happens to a society when one man or company owns everything. The entire society will eventually become a sweat shop. Its not like this phenomenon hasnt popped up repeatedly to the north of us and been deliberately cut off with intention because of the danger it poses to the economy. Im not sure if in their greed and love for the paper bag filled with money, they realize the piper will eventually have to be paid and since they the only ones with money, it coming to their gated community door step

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realitycheck242 5 months, 1 week ago

Even if the moratorium on gaming is removed, Sebas has an established brand in Island luck that is not likely to ever fail. It will remain the number one web shop company in the Bahamas. I do however support the creation of a national lottery so that the gamming funds that bahamians always seams to have money for can be put to better use by the government for infastructual project in all the islands. Then the country will not have to be borrowing so much money. Sebas empire is expanding every year, is he still the buggy man people make him out to be or is he a visionary. At this point in time i think we as Bahamians should give him the credit for his achievements for his accomplishments or risk loosing his future investments to other countries.. .Too big to fail is a fallacy in his case. He is diversified.

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 1 week ago

And what happens if he2s caught up in a scandal like Nygard, all his assets get seized and his business ventures come to a halt? Swiss secrecy and fronting wont save him. Its not impossible. It is a very dangerous thing for a chunk of an economy to be placed in one basket as we all witnessed quite clearly with tourism. I remember before COVID one very prominent and well respected financial expert saying emphaticatically that talk of diversification and moving away from tourism was rubbish because that industry had supported us for decades no end in sight. Vision is a serious thing. The US has very clear laws to prevent this type of market domination. And those laws are based on experience, experience with entire economy crashing on failure of one thing. Not perfect, but they attempt to exercise control. But here it seems we just love whistling past the graveyard

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 1 week ago

You have to wonder who Fox gave up to get such lenient treatment...

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carltonr61 5 months, 1 week ago

Are you saying both leaders admitted to accepting bribery?

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