x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Xerox looks for Middle East acquisitions in $900m buying binge

Xerox is on the hunt for acquisitions in the Middle East as it looks to boost its outsourcing services across the region, according to the company's chief executive Ursula Burns.

Xerox already has a presence in all the GCC countries, including offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Above, the company's headquarters in Connecticut. Douglas Healey / AP Photo
Xerox already has a presence in all the GCC countries, including offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Above, the company's headquarters in Connecticut. Douglas Healey / AP Photo

LONDON // Xerox is on the hunt for acquisitions in the Middle East as it looks to boost its outsourcing services across the region, the chief executive of the US-headquartered firm told The National.

The company, which has been shifting its focus away from printers and photocopiers, has put aside up to $900 million to buy businesses this year.

Ursula Burns, the chairman and chief executive of Xerox, said most of that money would be spent outside the US, adding that her firm “will acquire companies” in the Middle East.

“I won’t tell you any of the companies we are looking at but we are looking at spending $900m on acquisitions,” she said. “So if there are good ones in the Middle East, we will buy them.”

Xerox already has a presence in all the GCC countries, including offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

But it is looking to boost its service operations in the region, given the global decline in its photocopying and printing business – something that has also played out in the Middle East.

“The primary areas that we’re looking at are transportation, commercial health care … finance and accounting,” said Ms Burns.

Examples of regional business Xerox has won in the past include a contract to supply an automated system to sell public transport tickets for Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority and a similar deal struck in Abu Dhabi in 2011.

Outsourcing of other government services spells a major untapped opportunity in the Middle East, Ms Burns said.

“In developing economies around the world, outsourcing of this type is totally new. And they are highly interested in this – there’s not any way they don’t want to do it. And now we have to provision our offers to actually serve them better,” she said.

Xerox recently cut its profit outlook for the year, with lower sales in its “document technology” division weighing on its attributable net income for the last quarter of 2014, which came in at $156m, down from $306m a year earlier.

But the company grew its services business in the last quarter to $2.7 billion, more than half its total revenue for the period.

“Six years ago if you came to Xerox and said ‘what do you do?’ I would say that I provide document technologies,” she said. “Now, more than half my business is [in services such as] HR outsourcing, customer care, financial and accounting outsourcing, managing transportation infrastructures.”

Another area is health care, in which Xerox offers administrative support services such as patient identification, billing and communications.

“We haven’t quite got those offers to the Middle East yet, but they will come,” Ms Burns said.

business@thenational.ae

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