Puerto Rico Investment Summit Draws Strong Interest

Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:45pm EDT

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Puerto Rico Investment Summit Draws Strong Interest

Two-Day Event Highlights Incentives, Talented Workforce, Pro-Business Policies

An overflow crowd of more than 200 investors and investment advisers received a clear and consistent message at the first Puerto Rico Investment Summit on Thursday: Puerto Rico is a land of opportunity.

That was the theme of the day as leaders from government, business and the investment community discussed the advantages of living and working in Puerto Rico. The informative sessions included a panel of investors who have moved their businesses and their families to the island, as well remarks from prominent investors John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Nicholas Prouty of Putnam Bridge Funding.

“A growing number of hedge funds and other savvy investors — people like you — are finding good business and investment opportunities in Puerto Rico,” Alberto Bacó Bagué, the Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development (DDEC), told the summit attendees. “The smart money knows that Puerto Rico’s financial future does not hinge on what has happened in the past, but on what is happening now.”

Representatives from UBS, Amgen, HP, Microsoft and other companies with operations in Puerto Rico offered strong endorsements of the commonwealth’s workforce and other competitive advantages.

“The talent is not only at the professional level, but also at all the support levels that are important,” Carlos Ubiñas, CEO of UBS Financial Services Puerto Rico told the visiting investors. “The talent in Puerto Rico is as good, if not better, than what you would find any of the major financial centers in the world.”

Governor Alejandro García Padilla opened the summit by outlining his administration’s economic strategy, which combines government spending restraint, targeted investment incentives and initiatives to support existing businesses.

“In terms of government spending, we are days away from presenting the first balanced budget in more than twenty years,” the governor said. “But our plan is not just about keeping government spending in line, but it is about generating wealth in Puerto Rico – jobs, investment, and trade.”

Some of the most passionate testimonials for Puerto Rico’s business attributes came from investors who have found opportunities in Puerto Rico. The commonwealth offers tax incentives for investments in a wide range of services, including insurance, IT, asset management and financial services. Incentives are also available for wealthy individuals who resettle on the island.

Prouty said Puerto Rico is "in the process of a great reinvention" that is creating enormous opportunities for investors. He said the tax incentives were just one factor that led to his family's decision to move from New York to San Juan.

"I've never made an investment decision based solely on taxes," he said. "Puerto Rico has everything we thought we would miss."

Paulson, who delivered the concluding address on the summit’s opening day, said Puerto Rico is on the cusp of an economic transformation that could make it “the Singapore of the Caribbean.”

“We are just starting to see that happen. Everyone here will be at the beginning of that,” he told the summit participants. “We investing here because we think we’re getting involved on the ground floor.”

The investor summit, co-hosted by DDEC and Paulson & Co, will continue on Friday, with sessions on the investment incentives; the construction and residential markets; and other aspects of working and living in Puerto Rico.

Keyla Rodríguez, 787-505-5517