190416 aramex delivery
Freight forwarding side of Aramex's operational portfolio helped with the first quarter 2022 results. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Aramex has increased its foreign ownership limit to 100 per cent from 49 - this makes it the 'first onshore UAE company listed on the Dubai Financial Market to allow for full ownership of its free-floating shares by foreign investors'.

On Friday (May 27), Aramex confirmed that the country’s regulator – Security and Commodities Authority – has given the formal approval for foreign investors to own up to 100 per cent of the company’s stock.

“With a clear strategic roadmap to support our growth ambitions, Aramex is seeking to further connect the world and facilitate global trade,” said Capt. Mohamed Juma Alshamsi, Chairman. “This is why we believe is it the opportune moment to offer investors from all around the world an equitable opportunity to invest in Aramex’s journey towards sustainable growth.

Through investment in Aramex, investors will gain exposure to one of the most critical sectors in the UAE, a strategically located country connecting East to West.

- Capt. Mohamed Juma Alshamsi of Aramex

"Aramex is a constituent of the FTSE Emerging Market Index and the MSCI Small Cap Emerging Market Index," said a statement. "The change in foreign ownership is expected to increase the stock’s available foreign room, which would result in an increase of the stock’s weight in these indices, followed by an increase in passive money flows."

The Dubai logistics firm had good tidings from the first quarter, with net profit marginally higher by 3 per cent to Dh47 million, while revenues inched up 2 per cent to Dh1.45 billion.

Helping the cause was a ‘strong’ performance on the logistics and freight-forwarding side. For now, Aramex reckons that the numbers will hold up despite the ensuing concerns from the Ukraine situation and the steady march of inflation. Aramex had last year initiated changes to its operating model, to be a far more nimble business.

“We are starting to see a stabilization in our profitability margins,” said Othman Aljeda, CEO. “This is predominantly attributed to the strategic decision to boost contribution from the freight-forwarding and logistics business to our revenue mix. It is also driven by improving global operating conditions, as well as the realization of cost and operating efficiency enhancements in the courier business.”

The logistics and freight-forwarding revenue was up an impressive 28 per cent to Dh503 million. Freight forwarding alone surged 36 per cent to Dh391 million in the first three months, ‘predominantly driven by solid demand from SMEs and strong recovery in business activity in the oil and gas sector’. Aramex also made strides with an organizational restructuring, including ‘hiring more specialists’.

Offset courier

This did help offset to an extent the 9 per cent drop on the courier business, to Dh911 million. This was caused by a slowdown in cross-border business. “This is attributed to an increased level in consumer travel which impacted demand for e-commerce,” said a statement. On the positive side, domestic express revenues ‘held firm’ with Dh353 million.

"Over the past three months as most countries reopen and the majority of consumers return to normal shopping habits, we inevitably saw a softening in volumes in cross-border express," said Alaa Saoudi, Chief Operating Officer – Express. "However, in the domestic express business, we are encouraged by the volumes. Achieving near Q1-2021 volumes is impressive and suggests that despite a resumption to life as normal, consumers have adapted to a new way of local shopping, and we believe this will continue to drive sustain growth in this segment."

Supported by a robust balance-sheet, low leverage and healthy cash position, we are ready to pursue value-accretive acquisitions over the course of the year to ensure we deliver on our global growth strategy. We are also looking forward to exploring and unlocking greater synergistic opportunities with our strategic shareholders, GeoPost/DPDgroup and Abu Dhabi Ports

- Othman Aljeda of Aramex