Finablr bidders hire Alvarez and Marsal to advise on restructuring and acquisitions

Prism Group and Royal Strategic Partners agreed to buy the foreign exchange group in December but the deal is awaiting regulatory approval

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, August 30 – 2018 :-  Indian expats sending money back home from UAE exchange at the Al Quoz Mall in Al Quoz Industrial area in Dubai. Indian rupee hitting another record low of 19.22 against the UAE dirham on Wednesday.  ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For News. Story by Ramola

The consortium that agreed a deal in December to buy the UAE's foreign exchange and digital payments group Finablr has hired Alvarez & Marsal Middle East to advise on the company's restructuring and on future acquisitions.

Alvarez & Marsal has already provided Switzerland-based Prism Group and Royal Strategic Partners with an assessment of Finablr's current state and business planning advice.

It will also work on a turnaround programme to improve Finablr's operational performance and efficiency, including strengthening its management team, the consortium said in a statement on Tuesday.

Former Deloitte partner Robert Miller was appointed as Finablr's new chief executive in December.

“We are pleased to confirm that our initial due diligence on the acquisition of Finablr is complete and we are looking forward to winning regulatory approval for the deal so that we can stabilise the business and implement our ambitious expansion plans," Prism Group chief executive Amir Nagammy said.

"We are delighted to reappoint Alvarez & Marsal to assist with the restructuring of the company and bolster our efforts to appoint a management team that will deliver on the company’s potential”.

Finablr comprises a group of foreign exchange and digital payments companies such as UAE Exchange, Xpress Money and Unimoni that was previously owned by billionaire BR Shetty. The group floated on the London Stock Exchange in April 2019 in a deal that valued it at £1.23 billion ($1.7bn), but its shares were suspended in March last year after problems emerged at a number of Mr Shetty's companies, including the UAE's biggest private healthcare firm NMC Health, which was placed into administration last April.

The UAE Central Bank also moved in to undertake direct supervision of UAE Exchange while investigators who were called in to look at Finablr's books found previously unreported debts of $1bn in May last year, sparking a restructuring that led to its Travelex subsidiary being taken over by its lenders in July.

The consortium agreed to buy the remainder of the group in December for a nominal fee of $1, plus up to 25 per cent of any funds recovered from "third parties in respect of possible historic wrongdoing" up to a maximum of $190 million.

Alvarez & Marsal, which is handling NMC Health's ongoing administration, is "looking forward to extending our engagement with the consortium of Prism Group and Royal Strategic Partners and helping it to complete the proposed acquisition of Finablr", managing director Asad Ahmed said.

"The consortium has an exciting vision for the company and we will also be the leading advisers in connection with the due diligence process related to selected acquisitions that the consortium is planning to explore,” he added.

The bidders said last month that they were in advanced takeover talks with Bahrain's BFC Group Holdings, a remittance company whose brands include BFC Forex and BFC Payments. A deal would combine the two businesses, making it the biggest currency exchange group in the Middle East and North Africa with licences to operate in more than 30 countries, the consortium said. A deal is expected to be finalised during the current quarter.

The consortium also recently hired US-based Matrix International Financial Services as a compliance adviser in February and investment bank Moelis & Company in January.

"We have assembled an advisory team that is well-placed to help us realise our plan to build a major regional FinTech company, which will play a pivotal role in the regional economy,” Hamad Al-Ali, chief executive of Royal Strategic Partners, said

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