Aramex CEO Hussein Hachem has said his company is very eager to accelerate its expansion into Sub-Saharan Africa, as it plots up to $200m in acquisitions in the continent this year.
“We’re very bullish in our acquisitions. You will see us in 2014 scaling up a bit more and we’re raising debt to facilitate those acquisitions,” he told Arabian Business.
Hachem said that Aramex was targeting companies that broadly fit in with its strategy of facilitating trade between the African continent, which he described as “underserved”, and regions such as the Middle East, China, and India.
He continued: “We have a big appetite for big acquisitions if it makes sense. The price of that acquisition it might cross $100m or $200m. We have an appetite to go and do those if it fits our strategy and allows us to go into new territories.”
Aramex could raise the finance for such acquistions either by tapping the Islamic debt market by issuing a sukuk or via a syndicate bank loan, Hachem also revealed.
“Syndication from banks is available, the technical process of going through a sukuk is available,” he said. “What we’re saying is that once we’ve focused on a target then we will engage in raising debt.”
He added: “The window is within a year and a year-and-a-half, we’ll be deploying all of our energy to have successful acquisitions. The cost of debt is cheap, and it’s available from the banks, we’re not leveraged on the balance sheet. It’s time to scale up more.”
Aramex already has a strong presence on the African continent following its acquisition of South Africa’s Berco Express and Kenya’s Oneworld Courier and In-Time Couriers.
The company is also present in Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, and has franchising agreements that cover further countries, including Nigeria and Ghana.
In its most recent fourth financial quarter, profits rose 16% in Q4 profit to $20.8m, fuelled by growth outside of the company’s traditional PGCC markets, with business in the Middle East and sub Saharan Africa cited as growing particular steadily.
Overall revenues for 2013 were up $906.6m, or eight percent from $835.8m in 2012, while net profits hit $75.69m, an increase of 14% compared to $66.43m in the previous year.