Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

UAE’s Finablr weighs London stock market IPO

Company could raise $200m in proceeds through the offering

Founder and co-chairman of Finablr, BR Shetty. He is also founder of the NMC Healthcare. Ravindranath K / The National
Founder and co-chairman of Finablr, BR Shetty. He is also founder of the NMC Healthcare. Ravindranath K / The National

Finablr, the UAE holding company for businesses including Travelex and UAE Exchange, is planning to sell shares on the London Stock Exchange as it seeks to fund its expansion and reduce debt.

The payments and foreign exchange company would seek $200 million (Dh734.5m) in proceeds from the initial public offering (IPO), it said in a statement on Tuesday. The offer would include a combination of new shares and existing shares sold by some of its investors, which together would total at least 25 per cent of its issued share capital.

"Based on our recent growth and number of opportunities available to us we feel it is an opportune moment to consider bringing new investors on-board through a potential IPO," Promoth Manghat, chief executive of Finablr, said on a conference call with reporters. "We had some very encouraging early interactions with investors and the response was quite encouraging."

Finablr, founded by Indian-born billionaire B.R. Shetty, handled more than 150 million transactions or $114.5 billion in volumes as of December 2018, according to the company. Last year it served more than 23 million retail customers and 500 corporate clients spanning 170 countries. Mr Shetty is also the founder of NMC Health, which raised about £117 million (Dh562m) in an IPO in 2012 on the London Stock Exchange where it now trades and is part of the benchmark FTSE 100 Index.

Mr Manghat said it was "premature" to comment on the valuation of the business, the number of existing shares to be sold or the price per share as the company has yet to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the IPO.

The group's adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) reached $210m in 2018, up 12 per cent over the year before.

Its net debt totaled $564.2m last year compared to $587.4m in 2017. Net debt is currently 2.5 times the EBITDA, a level that the company is "quite comfortable" with, Mr Manghat said.

Finablr sees potential for growth in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and some parts of America and Europe.

The company has hired Barclays Bank, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Securities as global coordinators and joint bookrunners, it said. EFG-Hermes, Merrill Lynch and Numis Securities will be joint bookrunners if the offer proceeds.

Finablr hired Evercore Partners International as a financial advisor.

The Finablr network includes Unimoni, Xpress Money, Remit2India, Ditto and Swych.

UAE Exchange and Unimoni partnered with US startup Ripple to offer cross-border remittances to Thailand via blockchain, which it plans to expand to other countries.

Finablr, which focuses on money transfers and currency exchange services, is competing for a piece of the global remittances market. The World Bank estimates that remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached $466bn in 2017, an increase of 8.5 per cent from 2016.

Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, grew 7 per cent to $613bn in 2017, from $573bn in 2016, according to World Bank data.

Updated: April 9, 2019 03:30 PM