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UAE Exchange To Expand Global Footprint Through Travelex Synergies

Promoth Manghat in a one-on-one interview with Gulf News talks about the brand’s expansion plans.

Home grown financial services firm UAE Exchange has business operations spanning 31 countries which it built over the past 35 years mostly through organic growth. The company expects to see faster global expansion, during the next few years, Promoth Manghat, chief executive officer told Gulf News in an Interview.

UAE Exchange’s new global strategy is closely linked to the $1.2 billion (Dh4.4 billion) acquisition of Foreign Exchange firm Travelex by its shareholders last year. While both Travelex and the UAE Exchange will continue to remain as two independent brands, the group is working on strategies to utilise synergies of both businesses to gain foothold in newer markets.

“Shareholders of both the UAE Exchange and Travelex are the same. They are working on initiatives to fully realise the synergies. So far, the UAE exchange has been expanding organically, but the arrival of Travelex to the group will certainly give a big boost to our global aspirations,” said Manghat,

As a stand-alone entity, the UAE Exchange is already big in the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia. Though the company is present in Europe and UK markets, it is not a dominant brand. But with Travelex coming into the fold, the equation is set to change dramatically.

“UAE Exchange is the leader in remittances. We have a share of more than 6 per cent of the global remittances market. When it comes to Travelex, they have a leadership position in foreign exchange business. So the group now has market leadership both in terms of remittance and foreign exchange business,” Manghat said.

Customer Base

The group is currently working on strategies to fully utilise the complementarities both businesses share. While the UAE Exchange largely caters to low to middle income customers, Travelex’s customer base constitutes mostly of Middle to high income strata. At the group level, the combination of both these business have access to a wide spectrum of customer base.

While greater integration of businesses of UAE Exchange and Travelex are on cards, Manghat said it will be a relatively long process as both companies operate in varying jurisdictions are regulated by a number of regulators. Thus a number of initiatives will be subject to regulatory clearance.

“The intent of the shareholders is to bring both businesses under one single umbrella. Right from the time the acquisition was announced, the management has maintained that there will be greater integration and eventually, it will go for an initial public offering (IPO),” said Manghat.

Following the acquisition of Travelex, the group has announced plans to bring both business under United Global, a holding company which is expected to go public by the end of 2016 or early 2017, subject to regulatory clearances and market conditions.

Streamlining Operations

Keeping with the strategy to go public as a unified entity, the business integration process has already begun. In markets where Travelex and the UAE Exchange have overlapping businesses, such operations are getting streamlined to achieve maximum efficiency.

Going forward, the group wants to be a globally dominant player in foreign exchange, remittances and payments. At ancillary level, the company has plans to engage in other businesses such as banking.

“The acquisition of Travelex has come with two banking licences in countries such as France and Brazil. We are making attempts to get a banking licence in India too. Depending on markets we may look at such businesses but from a global perspective it is remittances, forex and payments that will be the core business of the Group,” said Manghat.

Factbox: Remittance leadership

  • UAE Exchange handles more than $13 billion plus from the UAE and $26 billion globally.
  • It handled $25.40 billion forex volume globally in 2014.
  • Out of the $414 billion remittance flows to the developing world, UAE Exchange has 6 per cent market share.
  • UAE Exchange handles 10 per cent of remittances to India.
  • From 1980 to 2014, the remittance business of UAE Exchange has grown by a whopping CAGR of 33 per cent.
  • The brand handles over 13.2 million customers worldwide through its 800 branches across 31 countries in five continents.
  • In 2014, UAE Exchange remitted $6.80 billion to India, $1.64 billion to Pakistan, $1.27 billion to Bangladesh, $1.25 billion to the Philippines and $1.07 million to China.

 

The article was published in Gulf News dated: January 24, 2016.