There are still some buyers in the financial services sector. Anil Ambani led Reliance ADAG which has been striking international deals in the brokerage and commodities exchange business, is now looking at a bigger play on cross border money transfer activity. It is now close to acquiring 50% stake in a UK-based currency exchange and money transfer firm for an undisclosed amount. This will enable the Indian company to sell its financial products including mutual funds to the 1.4 million NRI population in the UK, says this report.
There are a number of large money transfer and currency exchange firms in the UK with Travelex (which was acquired by a consortium led by Apax Partners three years back). The target company is said to have more than 250 outlets. Some of the prospective names in the field who could be under the radar of Reliance ADAG include TTT Moneycorp and No1 Currency.
TTT Moneycorp is a retail, wholesale and commercial foreign exchange services firm in the UK owned by the Shlewet family trust and backed by the Royal Bank of Scotland while No1 Currency was formed in 1996 and is owned by its two founding partners David Hale and Mark McElney.
The deal will be routed through Wall Street Finance, an Indian public-listed firm that Reliance ADAG acquired recently to enter the money transfer business. Consequently Reliance Money CEO Sudip Bandyopadhyay had joined the board of Wall Street Finance.
Reliance ADAG's plans to buy the UK company is in sync with its strategy for a wider distribution of the group's financial products. Reliance Capital which operates the largest asset management firm in the country is also involved in other businesses such as retail brokerage, distribution of insurance products and lending.
In 2008, Reliance-ADAG had been actively picking equity stakes in international financial services firms, despite the financial services business being the worst hit in the wake of the global credit crisis. The group has picked a minority stake in the upcoming commodity exchange in Hong Kong and is in advanced stages of negotiations to pick more than 50% stake in a new commodity and currency trading exchange in Nigeria. Besides, the group is also in the race to acquire the Asian assets of US-based insurance firm AIG which was bailed out by the US government in October to prevent it from going bankrupt. AIG has been looking to sell parts of its businesses and assets to focus on the core general insurance business.