Michael Lee-Chin

By: Errol I. Mars
Born: Port Antonio, Jamaica, 1951; Net Worth (2017): $3.14 billion; Company: Portland Holdings Inc.; Position: Founder, Executive Chairman; Industry: Financial Services; Country: Canada, Jamaica

Michael Lee-Chin, is Chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., his Canadian based investments holding company. His investment holding company Portland JSX Ltd. raise J$1.23 billion (US $9.8 million) in a June 2016 IPO which was oversubscribed by 23.5%, making it the largest IPO of ordinary shares ever seen on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

Mr. Lee-Chin stepped down as Chief Executive Officer of AIC Limited on October 4, 2006, then sold AIC's Canadian retail investment fund business to Manulife Financial on August 12, 2009. His largest single investment currently is a CAD $560 million stake in National Commercial Bank (Jamaica).

He is ranked as the 20th richest Canadian on Canadian Business magazine's 100 Richest Canadians 2018 list, his Net worth is estimated at USD $3.14 billion (CAD $3.95 billion), as of November 9, 2017.

Mr. Lee-Chin is not currently listed on the Forbes Billionaires list since most of his current assets are privately held. His last appearance on the Forbes Billionaires list was in 2009 as the 937th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $1 billion but has been dropped from the magazine's billionaires list since 2011.

Robert L. Johnson and Michael Lee-Chin were the first black people to be listed on Forbes magazines annual ranking of the World's Billionaires in 2001. Forbes mistakenly listed Mr. Johnson as the only black billionaire not recognizing Mr. Lee-Chin as being black.

Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica in 1951, Mr. Lee-Chin immigrated to Canada in 1970 to study civil engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. After beginning post-graduate studies, Mr. Lee-Chin decided to explore career opportunities within the mutual fund industry. At the age of 26, Mr. Lee-Chin became a financial advisor and, with growing success, progressed to the position of branch manager.

In 1983, at the age of 32, Mr. Lee-Chin borrowed money to purchase $500,000 of Mackenzie Financial stock. After four years, this stock appreciated seven-fold, and Mr. Lee-Chin used the profits to make his first acquisition, a small Ontario-based investment firm called AIC Limited. At that time, Advantage Investment Counsel (a division of AIC Limited) had assets under management of just $800,000. Within 20 years, assets under management for this 1987 acquisition had surpassed $4 billion. AIC Limited was to become the first in a series of acquisitions for Mr. Lee-Chin, Chairman, Portland Holdings Inc.

Mr. Lee-Chin has distinct beliefs regarding wealth creation, role models, and his firm's investment strategy. AIC's goal is to create long-term wealth for investors. To achieve that objective, Mr. Lee-Chin looked for role models – those business people who created wealth in society by owning one or two businesses. For this reason, Mr. Lee-Chin established AIC's investment philosophy of buying few excellent businesses in long-term growth sectors and holding these businesses for the long term in order to help AIC investors prosper by preserving and growing their capital and minimizing taxes.

As a result of his investment philosophy, AIC stands today as one of the largest privately held mutual fund companies in Canada. Mr. Lee-Chin was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1997. In 2002, he earned the Harry Jerome Award for a decade of achievement. Mr. Lee-Chin has been profiled in Forbes, Fortune, Canadian Business, Black Enterprise, National Post and Time magazines.

Following the acquisition of AIC Limited in 1987, Mr. Lee-Chin set about developing the Berkshire group of companies’ comprising an investment planning arm, a securities dealership, and an insurance services operation. Under Mr. Lee-Chin's stewardship, Berkshire was able to amass more than $12 billion of assets under administration by 2007. At that time, Berkshire had also grown to form a network of 750 financial advisors operating in 250 offices across Canada. In 2007, Manulife acquired Berkshire from Portland Holdings in exchange for shares, making Portland one of the most significant shareholders of Manulife.

In 2002, Portland’s interests expanded internationally with the acquisition of National Commercial Bank (NCB) Jamaica Ltd. and its subsidiaries. Since becoming part of the Portland group, NCB profits have increased to approximately US$100 million from US$6 million. NCB today stands as Jamaica's largest bank with 45 branches, 2,400 employees, and offices in the Caymans and the United Kingdom. NCB was awarded the LatinFinance 2007 Bank of the Year Award.

In April 2006, Portland acquired an 85% controlling stake in the United General Insurance Company, the largest auto insurer in Jamaica, and renamed the firm Advantage General Insurance Company. A controlling interest in CVM Communications Group (consisting of radio and television stations and newspapers) was purchased at the same time. Portland partnered with Risley Group to form Columbus Communications Ltd., a Barbados corporation that holds controlling interest in a number of telecommunications providers in the Caribbean including Cable Bahamas Ltd., Caribbean Crossings Ltd., Merit Communications Ltd. and FibraLink Jamaica Ltd.

In the tourism sector, Mr. Lee-Chin has guided Portland through a number of acquisitions in the Caribbean. Among them, the Trident Villas and Spa in Jamaica, Reggae Beach and Blue Lagoon.


The first Portland acquisition in the healthcare industry sector was announced by Mr. Lee-Chin in July 2006, when Medical Associates Limited, a privately held hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, joined the Portland group.

In November 2003, Mr. Lee-Chin received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from McMaster University in recognition of his business success and philanthropic initiatives, and in July 2004 was honoured by Time magazine as one of Canada's Heroes and one of the country's most intriguing and inspiring citizens. In 2008, Mr. Lee-Chin received one of Jamaica's highest national honours "The Order of Jamaica," for his significant contributions to business and philanthropy.

On Oct. 28, 2011, the self-made billionaire became the chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

"If you aim at nothing you'll hit it with amazing accuracy."



Latest Profiles

  • Richelieu Dennis

    Richelieu Dennis

    Born: Liberia; Position: Founder, CEO; Company: Sundial Brands; Industry: Personal Care; Country: United States

  • Steve Stoute

    Steve Stoute

    Born: June 26, 1970, Queens, New York City, New York; Position: Founder, CEO; Company: Translation LLC. ; Industry: Marketing and Advertising; Country: United States

  • William James Adams


    Born: March 15, 1975, Eastside, Los Angeles County, California, USA; Position: CEO & co-founder; Company: i.am+ ; Industry: Information Technology and Services; Country: United States

Latest Articles

  • Kenneth I. Chenault to join General Catalyst

    Kenneth I. Chenault

    Ken Chenault to join General Catalyst as chairman and a managing director, making him one of the most powerful venture capitalists. Mr. Chenault spent the last 17 years as Chairman and CEO of American Express and was recently...

  • Kenneth I. Chenault to Join Airbnb's Board

    Kenneth I. Chenault

    Former American Express CEO, Kenneth I. Chenault will be joining the board of directors of Airbnb. The announcement comes one week after Facebook appointed Chenault to its board of directors. Mr. Chenault will be the first and...

  • Ken Chenault to Join Facebook Board of Directors

    Ken Chenault

    Ken Chenault, the outgoing CEO of American Express, is joining Facebook’s board of directors. The technology industry has come under fire in recent year because of their lack diversity. Mr. Chenault joining Facebook’s board is...

  • Richelieu Dennis' Sundial Brands to be Acquire by Unilever

    Richelieu Dennis' Sundial Brands is being acquired by Unilever, a British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands and London, United Kingdom. Its products include Dove soap and Ben...

  • Richard Parsons, Former Time Warner CEO Launch New VC Firm

    Richard Parsons

    Richard D. Parsons, senior advisor to Providence Equity Partners, former chairman of Citigroup, and the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner and business partner Rachel Lam who founded the Time Warner Investments group...