Adeeb Ahmad Image Credit: Courtesy: Lulu Exchange

Dubai

Lulu Exchange, the Abu Dhabi-based remittance firm, announced on Tuesday it will fully acquire Al Falah Exchange Company in the UAE.

In a statement, Lulu said it has entered into an agreement to acquire 100 per cent ownership of Al Falah — a deal that will make Lulu the second largest exchange house in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), without disclosing the value of the deal.

However, a source close to the matter told Gulf News that the deal was estimated at Dh55 million.

With the acquisition, Lulu Exchange’s total outlet count will go up by 30 to reach 73 branches in the UAE and 170 globally.

Adeeb Ahmad, Managing Director of Lulu Exchange, said the acquisition will help the company increase its footprint around the world and capture greater market share.

“The market for exchange houses in the UAE will get into a phase of consolidation in the next few years. Eventually, digitisation will disrupt the market, and we are very much part of this movement,” he told Gulf News via email.

Ahmad added: “We are in the final stages of testing our mobile app that encapsulates many services that are available in our branches, and are awaiting approval from regulators. We are also on track to move nearly 30 per cent of our transactions on to the digital platform by 2020.”

As part of the acquisition, Al Falah’s 30 branches will be rebranded to Lulu Exchange. The acquisition is expected to increase Lulu’s volume of business by 50 per cent and have “significant cost savings,” Ahmad said.

Outside the UAE, Lulu Exchange currently operates in Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Seychelles.

“Our short-term goal (i.e. three years) is to expand our footprint across South East Asia, followed by Europe. We are also looking to tap newer markets both regionally and globally,” the managing director said.

He added that acquisitions were integral for Lulu Exchange to grow over the coming years.

“…Our level of acquisition activity has picked up in the past five years, during which time we have added more than 80 branches to our portfolio and we are constantly on the lookout for opportunities that will further bolster our reach and network,” Ahmad said.

Lulu Exchange operates under the umbrella of Lulu Group International, the Abu Dhabi-based retail chain. The Group is currently in the midst of finishing preparations to launch a hotel in London after it acquired the Great Scotland Yard building in mid-2015. The group acquired the building, home of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, for £110 million (Dh528 million) with plans to transform it into a hotel, which is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2018.